You do not have to be named Alice and accompanied by a white rabbit with a pocket-watch, and you certainly do not have to be the Queen of England to throw your own tea party... everyone can do it, and I am here to make your organization a tad bit easier so that by the time your tea party is about to take place, you will be able to enjoy it as well! After all, that is the intent of throwing a party, isn't it?
Make the list.
Whatever occasion it is that you are throwing your tea party for, it is important that you first make a list of guests that you will invite to attend your tea party. When making this list, keep in mind the following things:
- What is this tea party for? For example, if you are throwing a tea party in honor of someone's birthday, you might want to invite this person's friends and/or family members, rather than random friends of your own
- The number of guests. The scene you are trying to create when trying a tea party is a feeling of comfort, a cosy afternoon with a couple of wonderful people, in the quite personal setting of your home. My tip is to keep the number of guests quite small, so that the intimate intent of this whole party remains. I would say about between 4 and 8 friends is a good aim. This makes plenty of room for conversation to take place while still remaining a small, intimate group.
- Combining of guests. If you are throwing a tea party just for the sake of having a lovely afternoon with friends of your own, select people wisely; if you know that two friends of yours are not on good terms with each other, your tea party is not going to be the right time and place for them to get back on better terms. Select guests that you know or sense will get along. Your tea party can be a great way for you to introduce people to each other, just make a good selection of what people you think will go well together. You want a party for people to enjoy and go home feeling happy to have spent such a lovely afternoon with tea, cakes and great company - you certainly don't want the animal rights activist and the hunting enthusiast to have gotten into a big row over rights and wrongs, just to sketch a scenario.
You can go about inviting people in several ways - of course we have telephones, text messages, email and instant messengers on the internet. But may I just suggest, when throwing a tea party, something that in essence is quite old-fashioned and has that charm about it - that you rediscover the handwritten invitation. I know some of you out there have not written and sent out a handwritten letter, let alone invitation in years, or maybe even ever! Well, there is not a better occasion to get started than a tea party! I promise you, if you manage to write out a simple but personal invitation, this will make your tea party infinitely special before it has even started! Exactly because it is so rare these day! It really does not require that much effort, and the result is double worth it.
You do not have to spend much money on it either. You can buy nice thick colorful paper, and write your short sweet invitation on this, perhaps decorate it with a little ornament or such, and place it in a nice envelope. Another way to go about it is cards; there are packets of little unprinted cards available at bookstores or warehouses, that can be used as thank you cards, invitations, whatever cards! These are lovely to use, and if you have cards left after writing out your invitations, these cards are always handy to have in case you need to write someone a thank you note or just want to send them a message. Again, don't underestimate the power of a handwritten message!
You want to keep the message nice and short. Tell them they are invited to your tea party, inform them about the date, the hours of your party and disclose the location. If you want to give it a fun touch and feel that your guest might appreciate it, you can even advise upon a dress-code; this of course, is purely optional and only adds to the allure of the whole tea party experience.
Then, ask for an RSVP. You need to ask your guest to respond to your invitation, this is also known as an RSVP. This is important for you so you can be properly prepared, for many reasons ranging from the amount of food to be served to the fact you might have to reschedule or invite some new people, in case most people won't be able to make it.
They RSVP by email, phone, written card... give them a few options, but I would advise to definitely leave your phone number and email, as we live in a fast world, where not everybody is prepared to write a handwritten note back.
Setting the theme.
Now that you have selected your guests and sent out those invitations, it is time to get down to serious party planning... this sounds more stressful than it is, honestly!
The theme of a tea party can of course, as it is your party, be anything you want, from a traditional Victorian tea party to a Japanese tea ceremony. This is up to you, what you find most appealing and how much time and effort you want to put into this tea party.
Say you are going for a traditional Victorian tea party, you will want to work with ingredients that will bring forth this feeling. From the type of tea served to the snacks that accompany it. This can be as complicated as you want, but it certainly doesn't have to be a very expensive party. You can make some very nice simple old fashioned typical british cucumber sandwiches, and I will provide you a recipe for them, as well as several other tea party food recipes.
If you were to go with a Japanese theme, you can serve sushi and japanese candy, which you can find at Asian markets. Japanese candy is a special and out of the ordinary look that will be a nice different touch to the ordinary tea biscuit or chocolate chip cookie.
Preparing the beverages and foods.
I would suggest buying your fresh foods within 2 days before the party, so that the day of the party, you do not have to rush around shopping, preparing and getting the whole setting ready! That is just too much, you want to be well prepared and have all the ingredients ready.
This does not have to be a complicated mission, like I said, you can make this as complicated as you want. You can throw a party with herbal teas, some brownies and muffins, a plate scattered with a selection of cookies - home baked or store bought, whatever you desire!
You can follow your theme and go Japanese or British, and put much detail in decoration, use of tea cups and tableware.
An hour before your guests arrive, prepare the fresh foods (sandwiches, fruit salads, anything that has to be eaten remotely fresh) and keep them aside in the kitchen or in the fridge.
Make up the place at which you will be sitting. A tea party can be nice on the floor, with pillows scattered around, as if enjoying an indoor picnic, or it can be more formal, at a table, all set to look like a real Victorian tea party experience. This all is personal preference.
Put cookies and cakes on plates or draped in little baskets, decorate the setting with some flowers and be sure to have napkins placed for everyone to serve themselves.
Be a great host/ess.
The glue that will keep your tea party together, is you.
You are the host/ess, and you invited the people that are coming over, so it is important that you divide your attention between your guests and make all of them feel welcome. You are not expected to carry the entire conversation during your tea party; if you have chosen your guests wisely, this will all work out and in no time people will be interacting just fine, and topics will flow freely, but just to kick off this tea party, be the initiator. Welcome your guests warmly and serve them the tea that they came for, as this is a tea party. Offer them the cookies and cakes, and then after the cookies, go on to the sandwiches or the sushi, or whatever delicacy you have in store for your guests! There are no rules for tea parties, other than to be a lovely host and to enjoy yourself, enjoy your cakes and your guests!