The cultural tradition of an Irish tea party makes a great theme party for adults and children. A strong cup of Irish tea mixes well with up to 1/3 cup of rich milk, according to Old Fashioned Living's article, "Irish Tea Traditions." In Ireland, drinking Irish tea, or "cha," is a daily tradition. Once you know how to throw an Irish tea party, you can incorporate it into any occasion.
Create a list of teas to serve at your Irish party. Include the strong black tea blend of Irish Breakfast Tea or traditional Indian Assam tea blends. Consider the tastes of your guests. Provide a variety of selections, including Earl Grey, Chamomile, or organic herbal teas. Write your choices down on a sheet of paper to start your party shopping list.
Decide what food to serve. Choose traditional and modern recipes for your desserts, like Irish shortbread cookies, Irish Oatmeal cookies or Irish Soda Bread. Try a savory or sweet scone recipe, like Irish Herb scones or Honey Buttermilk scones. Select finger foods, such as cucumber tea sandwiches, tea cakes or Irish tea bread.
Make a list of what you need to buy. Go shopping. Purchase teas, ingredients and any foods you will not make yourself. Taste the store samples to select the best choices.
Set a traditional time for your Irish Tea Party. The Irish typically serve a simple tea at 11 a.m., a fancy afternoon tea between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and a "high tea" at 6 p.m., which serves as the evening meal.
Decide on the location for your Irish tea party--it can be indoors or outdoors. Ask someone to move your table to this location if you need help. Select decorations, utensils or napkins that are green or feature traditional Irish symbols, like shamrocks. Add more novelty decorations, like shamrock-shaped serving bowls, green sectional trays and an Irish Flag table cover.
Select a guest to act as tea server for the first 30 to 60 minutes of your party to keep with Irish tea party tradition. Choose a second or third server if the party will last longer than an hour. Call each prospective server, explain the duties and ask them if they will agree to do the job.
Gather names, addresses and phone numbers of people you plan to invite. Place a star or number next to tea servers' names on the guest list, according to the order in which they will serve tea. Make Irish-themed invitations. List contact information, location and time of the party. Include the names of your designated Irish Tea party servers on the invitations as a way of saying thank you.
The Day of Your Irish Tea Party
Bake any Irish tea cookies or pastries early in the morning. Allow them to cool in clean, dry containers. Wash any utensils and tea service pieces and take care to dry them so they sparkle. Pick up any fresh foods and last-minute items from the store.
Set the table. An Irish tea tray includes teacups and saucers, sugar bowls, milk jugs and a slop basin to discard used tea leaves. Provide lemon tongs, forks and lemon slices (instead of lemon wedges). As an Irish courtesy, supply cups with larger handles for male guests or for those who prefer them.
Thank your guests for coming when they arrive and help them to find a seat. Tell each guest about the choices in desserts, finger foods and teas. Give a traditional Irish tea party welcome to help the guests feel comfortable. Announce the designated tea servers, and let them begin to make their rounds.
Play traditional and modern Irish music, including traditional Celtic music, Irish lullabies or bagpipe music. Ask guests if they like the volume of the music. Play traditional Irish party games, like the Pot of Gold Toss, Irish Hot Potato or the Shamrock Relay. See Resource 1 for game details.
Thank guests for coming to your Irish tea party. Mention a special thank you to servers once more. End the party with a traditional Irish song or Irish blessing.
Leah Logan was born in East Palo Alto, Calif., and currently resides in Austin, Texas. She is an international author, certified diversity consultant and the founder and president of The Purple Heart Institute, a consulting and coaching business for self-esteem, transition, recovery and empowerment.