Hosting a Valentine Tea Party
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I love tea parties, and there are few activities more fun than Hosting a Valentine Tea Party! Hearts, roses, pink, red, or white dishes–or a combination of all three. And food so luscious and pretty you hardly dare to eat it!
If you’ve never planned a tea party before, please don’t be intimidated. I’m going to walk you through the steps, so you can plan your next party with ease. These tea party ideas are perfect for Valentine’s Day, but you can host this party anytime in February, or change it up for a tea party in the spring, for a special birthday, bridal shower, or even a baby shower. Be sure to download and print off the Tea Party Checklist I’ve prepared at the bottom of this post for easier planning.
These party details are for Afternoon Tea or what is also called Low Tea. Low Tea has a lovely table laid out with scones, little tea sandwiches, and beautiful, individual desserts, often served on a three-tired stand. See a more detailed explanation for Teatime Etiquette Here.
Be sure to start planning your tea weeks (or months) in advance so you have plenty of time to work out all the details. For me, at least 50% of the joy is in the planning, so, without further ado let’s begin!
Begin with Invitations
Who, What, When, and Where. One of the first things to consider when planning a tea party is who you will invite. Will this be a large gathering or small? When will it begin?
Low Tea may be served anywhere from 2-5 PM. I always go with Tea at Two or Three. This gives me plenty of time to finish up any last minute food preparation and table setting.
Lastly, where will it be held? In your dining room, a church fellowship hall, or some other location?
A small party requires less planning. While a larger party, such as a bridal or baby shower, may require renting a space or holding the party at your church. If a larger party, you’ll also need to consider what tableware you’ll use, the menu, and how you’ll serve the various courses and teas. See my post about our daughter’s English Tea Bridal Shower Here for ideas on planning a larger tea.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick with a smaller number for this Valentine Tea Party, which in my case served 5. Any number under 8 is relatively easy to plan and may be held in your dining room.
Other details you may want to include is the dress code for the party. Some tea parties require dresses, hats, gloves, (and even boas), while others are less formal. When I held a Back to School Tea Party for our granddaughter, I suggested that she bring her favorite doll or teddy bear. Or you may want guests to bring a tea cup and saucer to use at their place setting. Any such request should be mentioned in the invitation.
You may Purchase Tea Invitations Here, make your own, or hire a graphic designer to make them for you. If making your own, you might try using Canva, which is a wonderful way to create lovely invitations as well as menu designs. Our youngest daughter designs our invitations and tea party menus, which are always beautiful and creative! If interested, I would be more than happy to share her contact information with you. Just message me!
Tea Party Tableware
Next, consider how to set the table. What tablecloth will you use? And what about dishes, glassware, flatware, and napkins? For our party, I decided on an ivory tablecloth covered by a simple lace cloth. There is something very sweet and special about a lace tablecloth. I found mine on Amazon for under $15 Here.
Since this was a Valentine party, I went with pink as my main color and planned everything around that. I used my pink depression glassware, along with a set of Schumann Empress Dresden Flowers china tea cups and plates (Bavaria, Germany). This is a set that I began collecting a year or more ago that I really love because the colors match so many themes.
Then when choosing napkins, I went with pink linen and white chicken napkin rings. Last year, my daughters and I jokingly named ourselves the tea party hens when we gathered for tea. So began my search for chicken napkin rings–which were quite easy to find. I love collecting anything with chickens, so this was no hardship on my part!
If you have cloth napkins, please use them for your tea party. But if not, go with a pretty paper napkin. The same goes for your dishes. If you have china–maybe handed down from your mom, grandmother, or great aunt, then please take this opportunity to use it. And if not, shop for some pretty floral or colored disposable tableware. I found some really pretty ones Here for our Bridal Shower Tea Party.
As mentioned earlier, another fun option I’ve seen many times, is to have your guests bring their favorite tea cup and saucer to the party. Not only does this alleviate some of the strain of providing tea service, but it’s a great way to involve guests in the party planning. If you choose to do this, be sure to include the request in your invitation.
Consider collecting small-sized demitasse spoons for your tea table. You might look for some at thrift or antique stores. I found small sets of lovely Michelangelo designed spoons by Oneida on Amazon that would go with any table setting. See the Michelangelo Demitasse Spoon Set Here. Another option is to buy plastic demitasse spoons and forks, especially if serving a large group.
Flowers, Decorations, and Party Favors
The next item on our list is choosing a flower arrangement, and if desired, table decorations and party favors. For flowers, you may go with an artificial arrangement or a fresh bouquet.
Since this was for Valentine’s Day and my wedding anniversary falls on that day, I treated us to fresh flowers that I could also enjoy for our anniversary weekend. I purchased the rose bouquet from our local florist at Carol’s Plants and Gifts. If you decide on fresh flowers, I recommend shopping locally to support your area businesses.
Always consider the height for your bouquet, as you’ll want to be able to see over the arrangement to visit your guests. This floral arrangement measured less than 12″ tall, which was the perfect height. Pretty and large enough to be a centerpiece, yet short enough to see your guests on the other side of the table!
Table decorations are not necessary, but for this party, I wanted to sprinkle the table with “hearts.” I considered heart confetti, Dove heart chocolates, and even conversation heart candies. In the end I decided on these sweet little Mercury Glass Heart Ornaments. I’m sure I’ll be able to repurpose them for other occasions, or at Christmas.
Another optional item is party favors. This can be something as simple as a Valentine card (purchased or handmade), chocolate candies, or even a rolled napkin rose, all of which I’ve offered in the past. And while favors are certainly not necessary, it gives your guests something to take home to remember your fun afternoon together.
If desired, consider music to play softly in the background during the tea. Classical music works well for this, and Pandora is a great place to find it. This is actually something I usually forget to do, but it’s a nice touch for party planning.
Planning the Tea Party Menu
Finally, we’ve arrived at planning the menu! This tea party is for Afternoon Tea or Low Tea, which means I planned three courses–Savories. Scones, and Sweets, in that order. I almost always begin a tea by first serving savories, although you could also serve scones first and therefore, fresh and warm straight from the oven.
Sweets I save for last as I like to end the tea with dessert! Sometimes, I plan a fourth course as a grand finale, such as a beautiful teacake, tart, or even a trifle. This is especially applicable when you’re celebrating a special birthday, bridal or baby shower.
Course #1 – Savories
Having hosted numerous tea parties the past few years, I have my favorite tried-and-true recipes that I tend to reach for. That said, I also like to offer at least one new item on the menu to surprise my guests. When it comes to savories, I usually serve three items that include small sandwiches and/or canapes.
If you are hosting a small party with two to four people, it is perfectly acceptable to serve one or two items for each course. To make things even easier, you could purchase tea cookies or cakes to blend in with a few homemade recipes. Aldi Grocery Store offers a wonderful selection of items that are perfect for tea parties.
As you select items for your savory course, it’s important to consider guest’s preferences or food requirements (if you have that knowledge). For instance, I know that my daughters do not especially like salmon, so I try to stay away from such recipes, even though salmon is a wonderful choice for tea. If a guest is gluten intolerant, you will need to offer items for her to enjoy as well.
Don’t forget to add fresh herbs as garnishing elements. You may also want to add “extras” on your table, such as celery with peanut butter, baby carrots, sweet gherkin pickles, or green and black olives.
Course #2 – Scones
Scones are one of the most treasured items on your tea party menu. If you’re serving a plain scone, such as my English Scones, be sure to offer Lemon Curd, clotted cream, and strawberry jam to go with them. This is not necessary if your scones are sweet, such as the Pistachio Scones with Raspberry Rose Icing that I served at our Valentine Tea.
A nice addition to go with the Scone course are nuts, such as chocolate covered almonds, roasted almonds, pistachios, or Glazed English Walnuts.
Course #3 – Sweets
When considering the desserts to serve at your tea party, think small, individually-sized items. Mini tarts, cakes, shortbread cookies, madeleines, or macarons are perfect choices. The fancier the better.
For this final course, I selected three new recipes to go with my Lemon Raspberry Tarts. The new additions were: Raspberry Macarons with Vanilla Butter Cream, Pistachio Cream Eclairs, and Belgian Chocolate Raspberry Truffles.
I can say now that these three were great hits at the party and will return to my tea menus in the future! Watch for these new recipes in the months ahead!
Selecting Beverages for the Tea Party
Last, but certainly not least, you must decide which teas to serve at your party. Now that you have your menu planned, you will have a better idea of the teas to serve.
I highly recommend serving loose leaf teas at your party. Tea bags are convenient when you’re by yourself, (or hosting a large tea party with many guests,) but you will find that loose leaf tea is much more flavorful. Be sure to offer at least one tea for each course, as a way to experience as many tea flavors as possible.
Choose between black, green, white, and oolong teas, or herbal tisanes. A few classics for afternoon tea are Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Darjeeling, or a scented tea with jasmine, lavender, or rose. Good herbal choices are mint, chamomile, or hibiscus.
If you live near a tea shop, I encourage you to shop there and ask questions about their recommended or specialty teas. Since that is not an option for me, I purchase my teas online. So far, my favorite online tea shops are Tealyra, Harney and Sons, Twinings, and the London Tea Merchant.
For our Valentine Tea Party, I went with a Rose Theme and served Organic Rosy Earl Grey (Tealyra) with the Savories Course, Windsor Royal Wedding (a white tea with rose and lavender from the London Tea Merchant) for the Scone Course, and Luscious Hibiscus Rose (Tealyra) for the Sweet Course.
Be sure to purchase your tea weeks in advance so you have time to try them before the big day. Try serving them with a scone, cookie, cake, or sandwich to get an idea of which foods compliment the tea best.
Then, when it comes time to serve tea, be sure to take note of the heating and steeping times for each tea, which should be listed on the container. Brew teas at the proper temperature to get the best flavor from your tea. Heating temperatures can range anywhere between 165-205 degrees F. And yes, it does make a difference.
Here is a general rule of thumb for steeping time: Black Tea (3-5 minutes ); Green Tea (1-2 minutes); White Tea and Oolong Tea (2-3 minutes); and Herbal Tisane (5-6 minutes).
Items Needed to Make Tea
You will need a few special items to heat and brew your tea.
- water kettle
- teapot for steeping and serving the tea
- a tea strainer for the loose leaf tea (2-3 for ease of use)
- digital thermometer to gauge water temperature
- timer for brewing the tea
It’s nice to offer a cold beverage to help cool you down between courses. In the past I’ve served Mint Lemonade and sparkling drinks with pomegranate or cherry juice. This time, I chose to serve a Sparkling Prosecco with Frozen Raspberries in it.
Adding frozen fruit to drinks helps keep them cold without adding ice to the drink.
And for the kiddos, I like to serve strawberry ice milk, which they love! Served in a special footed drinking glass, of course.
Learn by Studying – Learn by Doing
So how and where do I get all these ideas for hosting a tea party? I learn online by following and studying other people who host parties. Pinterest is a great place to start. Just type in the kind of tea party you want to host and hundreds of ideas will pop up. But do more than pin the idea. Visit the author’s site and learn more about her and her tea parties or foods.
I gather many tea party ideas from TeaTime Magazine, which arrives in my mailbox six times a year. My daughters and I devour this magazine from front to back, looking at recipes, table settings, and tea services. If you have any interest in tea or tea parties, I cannot recommend this magazine enough! It gives me pure joy.
Finally, as many a good teacher says, the best way to learn something is by doing it. So, host a tea party for a friend or family member. Try a few recipes on them. Learn about loose leaf tea. Practice setting a pretty table. And if having tea parties turns into something fun and amazing for you, start collecting tea settings and serving ware for your table. My daughters and I rarely pass up an opportunity to visit an antique mall or shop, where you can find lovely vintage pieces, sometimes for only a few dollars. It’s a wonderful way to build your collection.
I know that I have barely touched on teatime practices here, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten many things. But hopefully I’ve offered enough information to get you started on your tea journey! To make things even easier, I’ve made this Tea Party Checklist for you to download and print off. May you enjoy and gain pleasure from tea as much as we do!
See more Tea Party Ideas Here.
“The spirit of the tea beverage is one of peace, comfort, and refinement.” ~ Arthur Gray