When you decide that you want to throw your “Tea Party”, you might be thinking…OH MY…I don’t have all that I need to have a special event. However…keep in mind “YOU DON’T NEED” that silver tea service with tray in order to have a lovely tea party. And besides that the cost and upkeep of silver teapot, sugar bowl, etc is intense and who wants to spend that kind of money or their time polishing? The most important thing is to have your party…if you enjoy it and your guests enjoy the party too, then is the time to consider if you want to do this on a regular basis…then you can take your time to shop for niceties for future tea parties.
So here’s some ideas of basic necessities:
A. Teapot – Porcelain China is your best choice for a tea pot as it keeps the tea hot for quite some time…however a ceramic tea pot with a cozy will keep your tea warm too and the cost is much less. I’ve found nice ceramic pots for 10-15.00 at TJ Maxx and Ross. They don’t carry them all of the time, but if you drop in now and then, you’ll get lucky.
B. It’s lovely when you have a set that all matches – tea pot, cups, saucers, sugar bowl, cream pitcher and dainty little plates…but to get started just use what you have available…as long as you have the means to place the tea, cream and sugar on the table, then you’re good to go…oh we mustn’t forget the cups…darling little tea cups are fun, but they’re certainly not needed, as any cup will do.
C. The preference of the hostess is to have cloth napkins, but paper napkins are just fine.
D. Silverware is the norm, but I’ve found very nice silver looking plastic utensils for a reasonable price at the Dollar stores and Costco.
E. I would always suggest that you have a table cloth for either the table or the buffet where you set up your tea and food, once again not necessary but does add to the ambience. If your table isn’t large enough for your guest to sit around, then you should serve from the table and allow them to find a comfortable place to sit. Keep in mind that it’s a juggling act to hang on to a tea cup/saucer and a plate of food, so don’t invite more guests than you can accommodate.
F. Choose a tea that you believe everyone will like and maybe have a different tea available for the more adventurous.
G. Depending on what time of day you plan your tea, keep in mind your food selection. If it late morning or early afternoon, you might want to include tea sandwiches as well as a nice scone or cookie. This could then be considered a luncheon tea. If it’s mid-morning or mid-afternoon, cookies, scones or cakes are all good choices.
H. If your guests are sitting at a table to have tea, it’s easiest for them as they don’t have to juggle their tea and food, however if it’s a stand up or find anyplace possible to sit, don’t serve any food that requires a fork or knife. Also keep the spoons where the guest can add sugar and cream to their tea, stir and walk away without having to worry about juggling the spoon too.