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How to Throw a Tea Party

Updated on November 16, 2014
My first tea party.
My first tea party. | Source

Introduction

I liked to throw theme parties. I also really like tea. So, last year, I threw my first tea party. It was a great success, with at least six pots of tea drunk and several pounds of cakes and breads consumed over the course of six hours. Below is a list of the steps that I took in throwing my successful tea party.


Planning

I like to keep things simple when I throw a party. So I didn’t require my guests to dress up, and I used 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 didn’t want to leave anyone out of the privilege of eating off of the good stuff. Still, I wanted to set a pretty table. So, I bought new table cloths (I placed two tables together so that everyone could sit together), a pot of flowers, and confectionery-scented candles to place on the table to brighten up the cold, winter day (obviously, tea is best served in cold weather).

Multiple teas are nice to have but aren't necessary.
Multiple teas are nice to have but aren't necessary. | Source

The Tea

I had a lot of tea at my party. A lot of tea. Too much tea, in fact, but better too much than too little. I actually didn’t have to buy any tea. I set out my everyday Lipton tea bags along with a box of flavored tea that I get every year for Christmas. I also set out hot chocolate packets, which went untouched, and a guest brought some loose tea from the local grocery store.

In the end, there were about 30 flavors of various brands to choose from. If you don’t have a lot of tea sitting around, I don’t suggest that you go crazy buying a ton. Most people just like plain, Lipton tea. If you want more of a variety, though, go ahead and buy a box of flavored tea as well (especially a box that contains multiple flavors), but keep it a small box, especially if it’s a small party, which most tea parties tend to be.

Also, don’t forget about milk, sugar and lemons. I sliced up fresh lemons and set them on a plate, bought a cow-shaped dispenser for the milk, and made sure to set out regular granulated sugar as well as artificial sweetener, (for those who aren’t spooked about the Internet’s claims that Splenda gives you Lupus).

French Bread.
French Bread. | Source

The Food

I both made and bought a lot of food for my party. Pinterest had a lot of good ideas for tea party foods, such as cucumber sandwiches and fancy cakes, but I knew that my guests had simple tastes. So, I planned a menu of foods that I knew they would like. In the end, I didn’t make any finger sandwiches because I know some picky eaters who don't like anything fancier than peanut butter and jelly, and it seemed like a food that would go untouched when there were so many sweet things to choose from. So, I stuck to desserts and breads. Again, I went a little overboard on the food. Below is my menu, separated by store bought and homemade foods.


Store Bought

French Bread

I just picked up a loaf at my local grocery store, cut it into slices and stuck the cute little pieces in a basket. I then set out bowls of butter and jelly to spread on top. You could also set out cream cheese or other bread-friendly dips, but again, it’s best to keep it simple. Nobody even touched the jelly that day, but it still looked good on the table.

Cheese and Cracker tray.
Cheese and Cracker tray. | Source

Cheese and Crackers

Cheese and crackers are a good idea for any occasion. I bought a few different types of cheese in blocks at the grocery store, sliced them up, set up a few different kinds of crackers (Wheat Thins, Keebler Club Crackers and Ritz) and made up a cheese tray. Easy.

Set out some mints.
Set out some mints. | Source

Mints

The mints were actually a big hit. I bought the soft, pastel mints that you take home as a party favor at bridal and baby showers and stuck them in a candy jar. I had to refill the jar at least once. It was nice to pop one into your mouth every so often in between snacking on all of the desserts.

Strawberry Shortcake.
Strawberry Shortcake. | Source

Homemade


Strawberry Shortcake

I wanted to have a nice, light cake as my centerpiece. I also wanted something fancy, but I’m not the best decorator, or the neatest. So, I made mine a double layer cake (by doubling the recipe and using two 9” pans). Once they had cooled, I set them one on top of another with the filling in between.

Not everyone likes strawberries. So, I crushed up some Oreo cookies and sprinkled them on top of one side of the cake after applying the Cool Whip, giving my guests two flavors to choose from. Once the cake was finished, I cut it into pieces (too large, as it turns out, Keep your portions small so that everyone can sample everything without filling up too much on one food), set them into large, baking papers, and placed them onto a serving tray for everyone to grab at their leisure.


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

Pizzelle
Pizzelle | Source

Pizzelles

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 chocolate-flavored pizzelle (see below). Either way, they go well with a cup of tea.


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 patterend cookie grids. Makes 36-40 pizzelle

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 | Source

Shortbread Cookies

These are another crumbly, tea friendly cookie. I like to cut them into different shapes using cookie cutters. For my tea party, I cut them into stars and dipped the tips into chocolate. The dough is not easy to work with so I suggest sticking the dough in the refrigerator for awhile 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 | Source

Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

My final menu item was mini-muffins. I went out and bought myself a special muffin tin, made my usual muffin mix, threw in some chocolate chips, and tossed the finished muffins into a serving bowl. I kept them small so that my guests could snack on them without filling up on one thing.


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.

The finished product.
The finished product. | Source
A modern day tea party.
A modern day tea party. | Source

Conclusion

In the end, a tea party is a fairly easy and very fun party to plan and execute. Most of our time was spent around the table, eating and talking. My guests went home with full stomachs. It was a fun afternoon. We were just doing what we like to do, eat and talk. In an era of multitasking and fast-paced leisure, taking the time to sit down with tea and cakes can give a much needed break from the rush of our busy days.

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.

Comments

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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Cool idea Laura. It's a great way to make new friends and meet new people too. Voted up!

    • Laura335 profile image
      Author

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Thanks!

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 3 years ago from Kansas

      Wow, I think you covered everything. Excellant.

    • Laura335 profile image
      Author

      Laura Smith 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Good idea! One of my guests did wear a hat with rabbit ears. It really added something to the mix.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      It sounds like a fun afternoon. Fancy hats would be cool while taking tea and would make some nice photos for FB. Gotta document your fun.