A tea party is a perfect choice for an afternoon entertainment, for adults or children of any age. What's more, the tea party concept is flexible and accommodating. Your event can be formal or casual; the setting elegant, playful, nostalgic, or chic and modern. Let your theme set the tone. Don't neglect the most important element—the tea. You can either offer a selection of teas appropriate to your theme, or craft your theme around the teas you'd like to serve.
Teatime in the garden is a classic party setting, perfect if you have your own yard or deck. Schedule this party for the spring and make alternate rain plans if needed. Decorate the table with daffodils and daisies. Offer seed packets as party favors. Serve a big bowl of spring greens, perhaps garnished with violets or other edible flowers. You can also make open-faced tea sandwiches of a cream cheese-based spread topped with nasturtium, calendula, chive blossoms or borage. This party theme is also easily transformed into an Easter time event—add blown pastel-dyed eggs to the decorations, and add egg salad or deviled eggs to the menu.
Iced Tea Party
Carry the outdoor theme into summer with an iced tea party. Feel free to serve several different kinds—a peach tea is a good choice and green tea coolers are increasingly popular. Use glass pitchers and highball-style glasses for serving. Stock the table with plenty of lemon slices and sprigs of mint. Serve fruit salad along with the tea sandwiches and such.
Cozy Winter Tea Party
For this theme, stay indoors. Set your table by the fireplace, if you have one. Serve spiced teas with plenty of milk and sugar, and weight the menu heavily in favor of baked goods—cookies and scones. Don't forget the lemon curd and put out good butter, perhaps European-style. Set the table in blues and whites, and use silver or gold serving pieces.
Other Seasonal Themes
If your tea party date falls in October, you could plan a witches' brew party. Use spooky table decorations and add fall fruits including pears, pomegranates and a few whole, shiny red apples. Incorporate apples and other fruit into the menu as well—perhaps an apple-cheddar spread, cranberry scones and pumpkin bread.
Consider hosting a Valentine's Day tea in February. This holiday isn't just for romantic love, but can be a celebration of friends and sensuality for everyone. Decorate in red, of course, and serve chocolates and petit fours, matched with an oolong tea.
Bring Your Own Tea Tasting Party
For a more casual affair, host the tea party equivalent of a potluck—have your guests bring their own tea for a group tasting. You provide the accessories, including cups and saucers, the kettle and the pots, sugar, milk, honey, and lemon. Have your guests bring one tea and one plate of treats to share.
Book Club Tea
Spend a leisurely afternoon with friends discussing books and drinking tea. This is another casual sort of affair, like a one-time book club meeting, unless it turns out your guests want to do it again and it turns into a regular event. Simply choose a book ahead of time with your guests, provide the place settings and the tea, and then you're set. You can also provide finger food or ask your guests to bring something to share.
Mad Hatter Party
Try this idea with kids, although the right group of adults will enjoy it just as much. The theme is from "Alice in Wonderland." Decorate the table with mismatched, even cracked and chipped cups and saucers. Use playing cards as place cards. If you have space, set up croquet in the yard—and add some pink flamingos. Tie a tag that reads, "Drink Me" to the handle of each cup. Encourage your guests to wear crazy hats. Serve Earl Grey or an English Breakfast blend.
Tea Around the World
People often think of tea parties as quintessentially English affairs, with cream scones and milk tea. But many countries all around the world have their own teas and tea traditions that you could base a tea party event around. Serve Moroccan mint tea in elegant glass cups and for food, set out a Mediterranean appetizer or mezze platter with stuffed grape leaves, hummus, olives and feta cheese. Or, serve a selection of smoky, fruity Russian teas—in some places, you might even be able to rent a samovar for your centerpiece. Serve the appetizers known as zakuski: marinated mushrooms, eggplant caviar, smoked fish, blini with sour cream and butter.