On Saturday I hosted a vintage tea party for my Mum's birthday, it's actually 2 weeks before her big day but it was a date that everyone could manage. It was a lovely, fun afternoon where we had many laughs as we reminisced about years gone by and ate lots of sandwiches and cakes. As it was such a success I thought I would share my top tips with you.
1. Decide on numbers: how many people can you comfortably seat at your table, no-one wants an elbow in their face when trying to put a piece of carrot cake in their mouth.
2. Set a date and time: as soon as you decide on the date let everyone that you want to invite know, bear in mind that not everyone may be able to attend as they may already have plans for that day.
3. Do you have enough vintage crockery for everyone or will you need more: Being a vintage lover I already have a couple of tea sets as well as cake stands, cutlery and teapots but if you don't then you can pick up tea sets or you could go for the mismatched look by buying different pieces at charity shops, car boot sales quite cheaply or you could even ask your older relatives if you can borrow theirs.
4. Plan your menu: is anyone attending have any dietary requirements such as gluten free, dairy free, etc? Keeping it simple works well, a variety of sandwiches, small cakes, scones with clotted cream and jam, etc; whether you want to buy them in or make them yourself depends on the time and money you have available. I made my own sandwiches using croissants and crustless bread (and gluten free bread for me), filling them with egg and cress, cherry cola ham with red onion marmalade and the "Tea Party Must Have" - cucumber. I also bought mini vol au vent cases and filled them with prawn marie rose but you could also use mini sausage rolls for another savoury bite. Although I have baked my own cakes and scones in the past I bought them this time around to save time.
5. Make your table pretty: vintage tablecloths work well if you have them, the embroidered one was made by my Gran but you can pick some up at car boot sales, eBay or in vintage shops. Alternatively using a plain white tablecloth (paper or fabric) is just as good. I bought pastel sugar hearts from an eBay seller instead of using sugar cubes as it added an extra pop of colour to the table. You could use jars of flowers for table decoration or old books to add height to your table and to place your teapot on.
6. Drinks: as its a tea party then the obvious choice would be tea but whether you want to stick to Tetley teabags or go for a loose tea that's up to you (remember a tea strainer if you choose the loose version, tea with leaves swimming around will put people off) but don't forget about the non-tea drinkers and provide coffee, juice or flavoured water. You could also provide a glass of Champagne or Prosecco for your guests on arrival or a mocktail for the non-drinkers.
7. Dress up: if you want to go the whole hog with the vintage theme then why not wear a pretty tea dress? Although we didn't dress up for this tea party I have in the past and wore a floral tea dress and pearls. Makes a change from wearing jeans and a top.
8. Enjoy yourself: no matter how organised you are there may be an unexpected hiccup that means things don't always go to plan but that doesn't matter, shrug it off and just enjoy the time with your friends and have a laugh. We had been chatting over the glasses of Champagne for longer than expected and the bread on my cucumber sandwiches had started to curl up and go hard :) Some fresh slices of bread, spread of dairy free cream cheese and the cucumber sandwiches were back in business.
Here's to your vintage tea party being the most talked about for all the right reasons.