Hosting a Child's Tea Party
Tips, tricks and ideas to make hosting your child's tea party a success!
As the owner of a child's tea party business, I often get asked for advice on how to host a tea party for children that's fun for everyone - including the hostess! Here are some insider tips, tricks and ideas to make your tea party a success!
1. Have a Plan
The best advice I can give to you is to plan ahead! Every good tea party needs structure (idle time spells headaches and stress when children are involved). The more planning now, the more relaxed and fun your party day.
TIP: I recommend no more than 90 mins. for ages 3-4, and no more than 120 mins. for 5 and up. Children younger than 3 can only go for an hour or less and if you push them you will pay for it.
2. Recruit Helpers
If your tea party is for 5 or more girls, get help! A good ratio is 1 helper to every 4-5 girls. This can be a mature teen, an aunt, grandma - anyone you feel would help supervise and keep your tea party on track. Even Dad can put on his tux and be Prince Charming or the waiter for the day.
The good news is that most tea parties are intimate and small with 10 or fewer guests. Be sure and recruit your help several weeks in advance so if your first choice falls through, you'll have time to find others who can help.
3. Get a Jump On It
Many tea parties are hosted right in the dining room and a child's tea party doesn't have to be any different. Decorating should be done the day before. Spread out your table cover and set up your craft items (if you've purchased our tea party hat kits, set up stations with the hat, pile of flowers, leaves, tulle, feathers, etc.). If you have our Tea Party Box, look through the contents several days prior. Rinse teacups and teapot and have them ready to go in the kitchen.
If you are having a dressing area for the girls to change, set that up, too. Lay out the tea party dress up pieces behind the dress up area in sets for each child so they know exactly what to do. Set a large, paper bag with each child's name written on it for her street clothes after they've changed. No scurrying about later looking for lost shoes! If available, keep a floor-length mirror near the changing area for girls to get a look at their tea party outfits - keep a camera handy to capture this priceless moment!
Set up the fashion show area in another room (like the living room). An inexpensive roll of paper can be used for the runway, and keep your disco music queued up and ready to go!
TIP: Show your helper where everything is located and how you want it handled so it runs smoothly. BONUS: Get a disposable camera for each helper so you don't miss a moment!
If you are doing makeovers, have your station ready to go. Keep baby wipes at the station and a hand mirror for each child to get a look at her gorgeous face! Use cotton swabs to apply lip gloss and eye shadow for sanitary reasons. Keep it simple: lip gloss, a dusting of glitter on her cheeks and forehead, eyeshadow and possibly a spritz of watered-down perfume. It's a good idea to let the party helper run this for you while you're greeting your guests as the entry activity.
Inexpensive lace cloth over a pink plastic table cover makes a pretty tabletop and has a bonus - the pink table cover can be used during craft time and the lace tablecloth laid over it or replaced for tea time!
- White or pink sheers with white lights strung behind them create a soft, magical feel
- Play soft music in the background to set the mood prior to guests arrival.
- Use battery-operated tea lights in votives surrounded by silk flower rings.
- Drape pearls over your chandelier and photo frames.
- Hang inexpensive polyester lace curtains just for party day.
5. Tea Party Food for Girls
- Save the clotted cream and lemon curd for adults!
- Cheese cubes, small cupcakes, sliced fruit, pretty cookies are good tea party fare.
- Prepare tea sandwiches (pb&j is fine) cut out with heart, flower or butterfly cookie cutters (stay away from cucumber and cream cheese unless the children are much older).
- Allow the tea to steep a few minutes before tea time to allow it to cool enough for the children to drink.
- Serve sliced pound cake or mini cupcakes as opposed to a large cake. Saves on mess and avoids your having to cut, slice and serve a messy cake (kids just want the frosting, anyway!).
6. On to the Show!
As children arrive, have your helper lead them to the makeover area. This leaves you free to greet parents, thank them for coming and keep a mental tab of the head count. Try to wait until nearly all of your party guests have arrived before moving on to the dress up activity - but no more than 10 minutes past the party start time or you'll fall behind.
Have a helper keep a camera close by so you can snap a photo of each girl at the activities. Once half of or more of the girls have had their makeover, it's time to take control of the party. Announce a group welcome your guests and give them a brief overview of what you will be doing at the tea party.
"Thank you all so much for coming to ______'s Tea Party! We're so glad you're here and we're going to have so much fun! After your makeover, we're going to make our own tea party hats and get dressed up. Once everyone has finished their hat and has on their dress up things, we'll have a fashion show! After that, we'll have yummy tea party treats and tea! _____ will open each of your presents in the Birthday Girl Chair after we eat and I'll be taking lots of pictures, so I hope you brought your sweetest smiles!"
Children love to hear the party plan in advance and you've answered all of their questions up front - but still be ready to gently go over the plan again as small children like to know what's next.
7. Keeping The Fun Going
If you have a small group, everyone can do the same thing at the same time (hat making, dress up, etc). If you are having a large group - more than 8 - divide them into two groups - one adult per group. Tell the children which activity their group will do first and who to go with, and that they need to stay in their group . Assure them that they'll get to do everything at the tea party - little ones will worry that they won't get to do everything.
The dress up group can go change into their costumes while the tea party hat craft group gets started. Remind the dress up group about the bag with their name on it if you are using these.
If a child wanders away from her group, gently shepherd her to go back to her group.
8. Fashion Show
Once each group has had a chance to do both activities (dress up and Tea Party Hat Kits), it's time for the fashion show! I recommend that this is in another area of the house so that the helper(s) can be cleaning up the crafts and setting up the tea table, preparing the tea and food, ensuring the clothing is in the right bags, etc. while you conduct the fashion show.
Line up the girls and play some fun music while you announce them one at a time. "Check out Katie's gorgeous outfit! That hat is too fancy for words!" Clap and take a photos while they pose.
"Next, here's Cassie in her fabulous feathers - what a doll!" Continue until all girls have had a chance to show off their hats and outfits. Take a group photo for the Thank You cards and the scrapbook!
9. Tea Time!
About 30 minutes before the end of the party, it's time for tea! It should take about 15-20 minutes to sing Happy Birthday, serve tea and treats. Serve the Birthday Girl first - she is the guest of honor, after all!
Let her pour the tea if you think she is able to handle the tea pot on her own. Use demitasse cups - they're easier for little hands to manage. Most young children love sugar cubes - have her ask them if they'd like one lump or two....this is sure to bring giggles.
Children will most likely be too excited to even eat what's on their plate and will more than likely just lick the icing off of a cupcake and announce that they're done...not to worry, this is just part of the excitement of a birthday party. Try to keep children at the table until everyone is finished by explaining that little ladies have to use their best manners at tea time.
TIP: If spills happen, quickly clean up and reassure the child that accidents happen - make light of it and change the conversation to another topic to avoid hurt feelings. Keep a spray bottle of club soda and cloth nearby for quick cleanup.
Have your helper(s) set up the Birthday Girl chair and gifts in another room (probably where you had the fashion show) while tea and treats are being served.
10. Gift Opening / Party Close
About 15-20 minutes prior to the end of the party, usher the children into the gift opening area. Your wonderful helpers will have a decorated chair (this can be a dining room chair with a fancy, shiny cloth or big bow or both!) and another chair next to it, and gifts at the ready. Announce that Jenny will sit in the Birthday Girl chair and they may come and sit next to her one at a time. Tell them you'll let them know when it's their turn.
My advice is that you go in order from youngest to oldest to avoid the wiggles and wandering. If you have a child that simply cannot sit still, let a helper usher them into another room to change while the rest of the children watch the gift opening. Have your child thank each of her guests individually. After all gifts have been opened, allow the children to change back into their clothing. By now, parents should be arriving - have helpers watch the door and quietly show them where they can wait for their child.
During the gift ceremony, have the helpers get the favors ready if you are using them.
TIP: present gift bags as children are leaving - if given prior to that, they can't resist going through the bag, losing the bag, etc. This way, they can look through it on the ride home and be sure they've not forgotten anything.
If you are giving favors, simply let them stay in their tea party dress up so the parents can make a big fuss over them when they arrive to collect their child.
TeaPartyTreasures.com is a site dedicated to preserving tea party traditions for young and old! Check our site often as we update weekly with new favors, gifts, tea sets and more throughout the year.