As spring blossoms and the rainy days linger, the perfect way to kick off the season of growth and beauty is with a tea party. A quintessential British practice, tea time is held in the middle of the afternoon, perfect for chatting with friends and refreshing yourself for the remainder of the day.

To host your own tea party, first set your guest list. Tea parties tend to be smaller get-togethers, ideally consisting of four to eight people. Once your guest count is established, it’ll be easier to prepare the menu and table setup accordingly.

Planning the Menu


Steven Huang

A customary tea time menu features assorted finger and snack foods, meant to hold one over until dinner. A good rule of thumb is to have two savory dishes and two sweet dishes available for your guests.

Steven Huang

For my tea party’s savory dishes, I chose a classic cucumber finger sandwich (a staple at any tea party) and a platter of mini veggie tarts. Additional savory snacks to consider include chicken salad finger sandwiches, veggie pastries, candied nuts, sliced veggies with dip, chips, and bruschetta.

Steven Huang

For my sweet dishes, I opted for scones and lemon bars. Scones are the second most important element of a tea party (after the tea). They are the standard pastry at the table, typically served plain and with clotted cream (which can be replaced with whipped cream) and preserves or jam. Additional sweet treats to consider include mini cheesecakes, Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, lemon bars, turnovers, mini Yorkshire puddings, fresh berries or sliced fruit, macarons, chocolate-covered strawberries, and Victoria sponge cake.

Steven Huang

#SpoonTip: For handmade scones, try experimenting with flavors! Whether adding fresh berries, lemon zest, or chocolate chips to the dough before baking, personalizing your scones can elevate the experience for your guests.

Tea and Beverages

Steven Huang

The star and namesake of tea time, tea is an essential element that sets the tone for a lovely afternoon. While Earl Grey and Assam are the two most conventional teas of tea time, you can truly mix and match based on personal preference. Offering a variety of teabags and simply filling your teapot with hot water allows your guests to tailor their tea experience. For those who prefer alternatives, iced tea and non-tea beverages can be wonderful additions!

Earl Grey

The popular choice for a tea party, it is usually served with sugar and a lemon slice. It can also be enjoyed with milk or cream. Earl grey is a black tea infused with bergamot, which gives it a hint of citrus.


Peppermint tea is a refreshing twist and serves as a caffeine-free option that still provides a nice energy boost.


A well-known floral tea, chamomile is known for its soothing qualities. Often sipped with honey, it promotes relaxation and serenity.


Another beloved classic, Assam was one of the Queen of England’s go-to teas to sip. As a type of black tea, it is often used as a base for milk tea or chai, providing flavorful depth.

Non-tea Ideas

While the focus may be on tea, it doesn’t hurt to have other options available. Refreshing drinks like lemonade, fruit punch, or even a sparkly alcoholic beverage (for those of legal drinking age) can enhance the overall experience. For those who prefer hot drinks, hot chocolate or cider offer warmth and comfort!

Setting the Stage

Steven Huang

The decor sets up the aesthetic tone for your tea party. While owning a full tea set is great for someone who has tea parties on the regular, it isn’t quite a household staple. Luckily, you can create the desired atmosphere without breaking the bank or having a perfect setup.

Table Setting

Steven Huang

In a perfect world, all the tea cups, plates, and silverware would match, and food would be presented on dainty three-tiered trays or delicate cake stands. Of course, such perfection isn’t required. For a more uniform aesthetic, stick within a particular color scheme, like white, creams, and pastels. Disposable tableware is a convenient option, and can often be found with designs that make them look a little fancier. Even a teapot is optional—an electric kettle works just as well. Remember, the beauty of a tea party lies in the company and the ambiance, not the specific tableware.

#SpoonTip: If you don’t have enough tea cups or mugs, make it a mug swap! Ask each of your attendees to bring a tea cup or mug to trade with someone else.

If you’re in need of a tablecloth, consider thrifting one or borrowing from your guests. Alternatively, a roll of butcher paper is a cost-effective choice. Tape it down to the table and provide crayons or colored pencils for guests to add doodles as the party goes along.

Candles, whether taper or jarred, add a warm but fresh ambiance and thematic scents to the room, enhancing the atmosphere. Flower arrangements are also a great addition, bringing vibrance and freshness to the table.


Steven Huang

While it depends on the size of your tea party, 1-2 vases of flowers are often more than enough. Affordable blooms can be found at Trader Joe's or your local grocery store. If you have access to a garden or flower bushes, you could even pick your own!

For a unique activity, ask each guest to bring a small bouquet of their favorite flower or bouquet filler. Then, allow everyone to create their own personalized bouquet with the assortment to keep as a party favor!


As a final way to complete the aesthetic of a tea party, ask your guests to come dressed in garden party attire. If this is too formal, you can request a dress code of a certain color palette or print, like florals. Open the windows, or, if it’s a nice day, host outside! Lastly, play some soft, relaxing music, whether on the classical side or more modern side.

Steven Huang

All in all, a tea party is the perfect way to bring some brightness into midterm season. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfectly fancy or sophisticated. As long as you enjoy conversation and food with company, it’s bound to be a delightful time.