Tea parties aren't just reserved for little girls and aristocrats. If a dinner party is too daunting, but you want to invite a group of friends over for a good time, why not invite them over for tea? Serving tea is customary in many countries around the world, but has long fallen out of practice in the United States and Canada due to time constraints and our busy lifestyles. Perhaps an afternoon tea party is just the thing to remind you of how enjoyable a more peaceful pace of life can be.
Tea Party Arrangements
Set up your tea arrangements much like a buffet. Or you can arrange your items in the center of a larger table if you've invited a smaller number of guests. A tea party is usually a smaller affair with six to eight guests, possibly fewer for a more intimate affair, and conversation is the primary focus of the event. Tea and food items are available only to supplement socializing.
Set your tea table with a full tea service including sugar, lemons and hot water. You'll also want to include artificial sweeteners and milk. The tea service should be placed near the head of the table where you will be serving, and the rest of the table should be laid with small foods such as tea sandwiches, tea cakes, fruit, scones and other simple items. You should likely avoid using full sized plates as your guests are not coming for a meal. Instead opt for smaller plates - perhaps those that match your tea set.
The Tea Party Greet guests warmly and be sure to make introductions between guests who are not already acquainted. As the hostess, you must speak to all guests and invite them to the table when it is time to serve.
Pour tea for each guest after asking how she prefers her cup. Add sugar, lemon and milk as desired and continue pouring until all guests are served. If you've opted for a buffet style set-up, you still pour tea for your guests, but you can do so as they arrive with less production and fanfare.
While you are preparing cups of tea, invite your guests to sample the food items and be sure you're keeping conversations going. The polite hostess finds ways to draw all guests into a conversation and to keep that socializing running smoothly throughout the party.
The Modern Tea Party
While throwing a traditional tea party can be fun, you might also want to add some modern touches to the occasion by offering more than a single black tea to guests. You might offer a traditional as well as herbal tea and there is no reason tea parties shouldn't be coed. Invite friends of both genders and all backgrounds to share a pot of tea and conversation in the afternoon.
Granted, most guests aren't able to come to a tea party on a Wednesday afternoon, but they might be free on a weekend. Find a schedule and set-up that fits your lifestyle and adapt the tea party to suit. After all, a tea party is a social occasion. It's all about having a good time.