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How to Throw a Tea Party

Updated on January 22, 2021
Laura335 profile image

I am the author of three middle-grade children's books, and I blog on the side. My favorite topics are movies, writing, and pop culture.


Throwing a tea party

Want to throw a party that's all about food and conversation? Try a tea party. I love to throw tea parties in those late winter months when everyone needs a pick-me-up. Below are some tips for throwing your own tea party.

A table set for a tea party


Planning a tea party

I like to keep things simple when I throw a party. So I didn’t require my guests to dress up, and I use my everyday dinnerware for my place settings.

Tea sets are expensive, and it’s hard to find a set that will serve more than four people. I like to invite more than four people to my parties, and I don't want to leave anyone out of the privilege of eating off of the good stuff. But I still like to dress up the table more than I would on an ordinary day. So, I push two tables together and set them with:

  • decorative table cloths
  • antique serving plates
  • a pot of fresh flowers
  • brand new candles

An assortment of tea bags.


The tea

I like to set out a variety of different types of tea at my parties including bagged, loose leave, and K cups along with hot chocolate packets. Also, don't forget:

  • milk
  • sugar (regular and artificial sweetner)
  • lemons

Also, be sure to have containers to put them in. I bought a cow-shaped milk dispenser just for tea parties.

Also, you need to have a lot of hot water ready. A kettle of hot water will go fast as your guests down one cup after another. Fill your kettle, and try to have it boiling before your first guests arrive.

I like to keep a tea pot on the table for easy access, but keep some hot water in thermoses or extra kettles on standby, and continue boiling water throughout the party.

The food

My tea parties have consisted of everything from appetizers and desserts to full soup and sandwich lunches. Plan your menu in advance so that you have all ingredients in advance and have time to prepare everything.

Make your cookies, muffins, and breads in advance, and freeze them so that you're not scrambling to bake everything the night before or the day of. Give yourself time to make sandwiches or cut up fruit, vegetables, and/or cheese the morning of your party.

Here are some of the foods I've put out at my tea parties:

French bread



Your guests will go right for the breads. I like to buy a loaf of French bread or make a loaf of the Pillsbury brand. French bread is small so your guests won't fill up with it, but they can try out different spreads and eat a few slices while still leaving room for the other food on their table. You can even make little finger sandwiches with the slices.

Strawberry shortcake


Strawberry shortcake

I like to serve a pretty-looking, light cake at my tea parties. So, I tend to make a double-layered shortcake. I top half with strawberries and half with Oreo cookies, for those who don't like fruit in their desserts. Then, I cut them into pieces small enough to fit into a large, paper baking cup. That way, they're not too big to pass up for dessert, and if they want more, they can always take another slice.

Strawberry shortcake recipe

2 pints strawberries (4 cups), sliced

½ cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup milk

1 large egg, slightly beaten

1 tub of Cool Whip

  1. In large bowl, stir strawberries and ½ cup of sugar until well mixed. Let stand about 1 hour so strawberries will become juicy.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease bottom and side of 8 or 9 inch round pan; lightly flour.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter using pastry blender or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in milk and egg just until blended. Spoon into pan; spread evenly.
  4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes.
  5. Place serving plate upside down on pan; turn plate and pan over and remove pan. Fill and top each wedge with Cool Whip and strawberries.
  • If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt
  • 1 serving: 375 calories
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Chol. 5 mg
  • Sodium 650 mg
  • Carbs 62 g




Pizzelles are light and go well with tea. They also look pretty on your table.

This pastry requires a pizzelle iron. So if you don’t have one, just pick up a package of pizzelles from your local grocery store or bakery. If you do have an iron, get to work using the recipe below.

I like to dye mine different colors. They look prettier on the table with a little powdered sugar on top. Sometimes I mix in chocolate chips to create a batch of chocolate-flavored pizzelles as well.

Classic pizzelle recipe

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large eggs

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup unsalted butter, melted (I’ve used salted butter, and it doesn’t seem to make a difference)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract or anise extract

  1. Preheat your iron. Place flour and baking powder in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Place eggs and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute until thickened.
  3. On low speed, add butter and vanilla in a steady stream and mix until combined about 15 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds; do not overmix.
  5. Brush the hot iron with vegetable oil before baking. Drop a spoonful of dough onto the cookie grids. Makes 36-40 pizzelles.

Calories: 60

Carb 8 g

Pro. 1g

Fat 3g

Sat. fat 2g

Cho. 22 mg

  • Variation: For chocolate pizzelle, add ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 ounces of finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Use 1 cup of sugar and only 1 ½ cups of flour.

Shortbread cookies


Shortbread cookies

These are another crumbly, tea-friendly cookie. I like to cut them into different shapes using cookie cutters and dip the corners in chocolate.

The dough is not easy to work with. So I suggest sticking the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting them out and baking. They were probably the plainest cookie on the table, but they received a lot of compliments from my guests.

Shortbread cookies recipe

Makes about 2 dozen cookies (1 ½ in.)

¾ cup butter or margarine, softened

¼ cup sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl, stir butter and sugar until well mixed. Stir in flour. If dough is crumbly, mix in 1 to 2 teaspoons more butter or margarine, softened.
  3. Roll dough ½ inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into small shapes with knife or cookie cutters. ON ungreased cookie sheet, place shapes ½ inch apart.
  4. Bake about 20 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
  • Do not use self-rising flour.
  • Tip: Dip edges in melted chocolate and chopped nuts if desired.
  • 1 cookie: 100 cal.
  • Fat 6g
  • Chol. 15 mg
  • Sodium 40 mg
  • Carbs 10g

Chocolate chip mini muffins


Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

I use a mini-muffin pan and make a standard batch of muffin mix. Again, keeping each food small allows your guests to sample everything and to eat multiples of their favorites. They also bake quicker than regular muffins.

I go with chocolate chip version to make it more cookie-like. I also make them about a week in advance and freeze them. You don't have to put them all out either. Just a few per guest will do. The rest, you can save for later.

Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins recipe

¾ cup milk

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease bottoms only of muffin cups or line with paper baking cups.
  2. In large bowl, beat milk, oil and egg with fork or wire whish until well mixed. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (there may be more batter than can hold the mini-muffin tray. If so, you may need to bake another tray.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. If baked in greased pan, let stand about 5 minutes in pan, then remove from pan to wire rack. If baked in paper baking cups, immediate remove from pan to wire rack. Serve warm if desired.
  • If using self-rising flour, omit baking powder and salt.

After dinner mints.



I buy the melt-in-your-mouth, pastel mints that you take home as a party favor at bridal and baby showers. Stick them in a candy dish or jar, and put it in the middle of your table. Guests love to use them to cleanse their palette or to signal to themselves that they have eaten enough.

My first tea party.
My first tea party. | Source

A successful tea party

You can judge a tea party's success by how much food is left over and how long everyone stayed at the table, talking, eating, and hanging out. My guests always go home with full stomachs, and there are always left overs for them to carry home or save for another day.

In an era of multitasking and fast-paced leisure, taking the time to sit down with tea and desserts can give a much-needed break from the rush of our busy days, even though the preparation can be rigorous.

If you are looking to plan a day with the girls or searching for a fun, theme party, I highly recommend trying a tea party. If you have ever had a tea party (even one with your Fisher Price tea set and stuffed animals), leave your comments below. Share what you made, what kind of tea you served, and who you shared the day with.

  • Note: All recipes come from the Betty Crocker Cookbook: Heart Health Edition except for the Pizzelle Recipe which came from the Cuisinart Pizzelle Press instruction manual.


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