Tips for Throwing the Best High Tea Party Ever

A few months ago I hosted a High Tea/Afternoon Tea (depending on who you ask) in my living room for ten of my friends. It was such a fun afternoon and to be honest, it was almost as much fun getting everything decorated and prepping all the food. It’s also one of those occasions that’s appropriate any time of the year. Birthday, mid winter, because you are a finger sandwich enthusiast – anytime!

Tips for throwing the best high tea EVER:

  • Make your decorations and be clever with where you spend your money. I bought a cheap table cloth, napkins and bunting from Look Sharp. Snagged 2x three tier serving plates from the Warehouse downtown just before it closed ($10 each!) and went up the road to my cheap and cheerful florist to buy yellow roses. I used old tea containers for the vases and didn’t worry too much about matching tea cups (bc my friends were more focused on the champagne anyway).

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classesthrowing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Ask everyone to bring something, but be specific. I was all over savoury and asked everyone else to bring two sweet items each, and this translated to, two full size sweets each. So we had enough cake/slice/macaron to have satisfied Marie Antoinette for one hundred years.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Music! I have Apple Radio and just turned it on to classical – so it was continuous and I didn’t have to build my own playlist. Plus classical = fancy. I just set up a small speaker as I didn’t want it loud.
  • If you have the time, give yourself time. I had an entire day to prepare and all my family was away so I had a glorious uninterrupted day of making decorations, scones and mini sandwiches. It was bliss.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classesthrowing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Ask if there are intolerances. It honestly took an extra 5 minutes to make gluten free sammies and it meant one of my friends didn’t have to go hungry. Also you can’t go wrong with fillings but I stuck to traditional: cucumber, salmon, roast beef/watercress, egg salad and ham/brie.
  • Start it mid afternoon. This means one of two things. Either you can still go to bed at a reasonable hour, or it gives you a lot longer to have all the fun. Plus it’s nice to have daylight when setting a fancy tea party.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Provide a variety of tea. (I’ll pretend my friends actually drank the tea). Make a couple big plungers, one herbal, one black – or even easier, get fancy teabags (Libertine Blends, Harney & Sons) and just have hot water on hand.
  • Provide most of the bubbles. If anyone asks to bring some, certainly don’t stop them, but you’re the host. I bought a magnum of Lanvin on sale and then downgraded to sparkling wine/cava after the first couple bottles.

 

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

Me in my jammies the night before, contemplating taste testing the Lanvin.

  • I made cupcakes, rather than a giant cake. Easier to eat, less mucking around cutting it, and they were soooo cute.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Following above, make easy food choices. Cupcakes. Easy. Scones. Easy. Sandwiches. Easy. If I had attempted a croquembouche I probably would have been slightly more stressed out.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classesthrowing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Invite a couple groups of friends. I invited my foodie friends to mingle with my normal (lolz) friends. Everyone got along great and it was a fun mix of people.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

  • Create a fun Facebook invite and ensure your friends RSVP. Although this sounds anal retentive, it’s a small gathering and you want to have all the place settings arranged ahead of time, so it’s best to know how many people to expect.
  • If you make several hundred tiny finger sandwiches, this does not mean you need to eat them all in one night, or you will need to be rolled to bed. Also you need to save room for all the scones. And all the cakes. And all the champagne.

throwing a high tea party - auckland cooking classes

Have you hosted a tea party? Any other good tips to share? (I can’t wait to throw my next one!)

All photos are the authors own.

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  1. Best high tea ever. I was glad to pop my high tea cherry at your place.

    You set the bar so very high and I’m not mad at all that we didn’t drink any tea. I’d never made tiny sandwiches before but the wasted bread cutoffs was insane. Next time I’m going to plan something with the offcuts, whether it’s croutons or something else.

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