Featured Image - Birthday Celebration Tea Party

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Spring is a wonderful time to host a Birthday Celebration Tea Party. Or a celebration of any sort, such as a bridal shower, baby shower, anniversary, etc. What better way to celebrate than with delectable bite-size foods, pretty flowers and table decorations, all together with family or friends? Plus, the fun is in the planning. So let’s get started!

I’ve been hosting tea parties for our daughters for many years. Most of them were small and intimate with two or three of us at the table. Afterall, a tea party is wonderful no matter how big or small. For this post, however, I want to focus more on milestone birthdays. Something you really want to celebrate, with beautiful flowers and decorations, table display, and food for at least six or more attendees.

A few years ago, my daughters and I hosted an 80th Birthday Tea for my mother-in-law. It was held in April, so we focused on spring flowers–tulips and pink peonies in abundance. And lots of tasty treats, concluding with a Strawberry Fraisier Cake for the guest-of-honor.

Low Tea, or afternoon tea, as it’s known here in the States, is comprised of three or more finger courses–savories, scones, and sweets. For a celebration tea, however, you may want an additional dessert attraction such as a spectacular show-stopper cake!

Teatime Explanations

Have you ever wondered about the different times to take tea? First, recognize that there are various times for serving tea. There is Elevenses (also known as cream tea), Low Tea (sometimes called afternoon tea), and High Tea. Here in America, you’ll mostly see afternoon tea, especially in tea rooms.


Tea Party Icon

Elevenses is equal to a late-morning snack with tea and scones or biscuits. Something to hold you over until lunchtime.

Low Tea is what most people think of with a lovely table laid out with scones, little tea sandwiches, and beautiful, individual desserts, often served on a three-tired stand. In the past, this tea was often served in a parlor on a “low” table such as a coffee table or stand, anywhere from 2-5 PM.

Low Tea is believed to have first started with Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, England in 1840. Apparently, the Duchess would become hungry around three or four o’clock in the afternoon because the evening meal wasn’t served until eight. The Duchess would ask for a tray of tea, bread and butter sandwiches, and cake to be brought to her room. Her friends and ladies-in-waiting would often join her for this tea, forming the first “tea parties!” 

High Tea is held early evening (between 5 and 7) and came about by the “working class” who may not have been able to take an afternoon lunch. Thus they would eat a hearty meal after work with tea, sandwiches, and soups. So, this tea is more like a meal and is served on a “high” table or a regular kitchen table.

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 party with ease. These tea party ideas are perfect for a milestone birthday, but can be easily adapted for any special party, bridal shower, baby shower, or even an anniversary. Be sure to download and print off my Tea Party Checklist for easier planning.

Plan Your Tablescape

When planning a tea party, one of the first things I like to do is consider the theme, which will include colors, flowers, dishes and tableware, along with table linens.

For a Birthday Celebration Tea, think of the guest-of-honor, and her favorite colors and flowers and, if possible, try to plan around those.

Last summer, I hosted a combination birthday tea party for our youngest and oldest daughters. Since it was held in August, I focused on wildflowers and the colors of summer — orange, blue, yellow, and pink, which both of our daughters were fond of. If possible, try to use fresh flowers for your centerpiece. If that’s not an option, there are lots of great choices for artificial flowers online or at Hobby Lobby.

Invitations and Printables

Be sure to send out invitations for your tea party, at least two weeks in advance. If you are ambitious, create name plates and menu cards for your guests to take home. Or your could also purchase pretty templates or items online. Etsy is a wonderful place to shop for such items.

Hats, gloves, and pretty dresses were encouraged for those who attended. Many of us purchased tea party hats on Amazon. You might be surprised at how many inexpensive options there are, available in all shapes and colors.

Choose Table Linens and Dishes

A celebration tea is the time to bring out your fine linens and dishes. For our parties, I opted to use my Schumann Empress Dresden Flowers dishes from Bavaria Germany along with Pink and Green Depression Glass plates, goblets, and servers that I purchased on Ebay and at local antique shops.

The pink and green rose tablecloth was purchased on Amazon with linen napkins that I found on Ebay. If you’re planning a large gathering, consider the tips below.

Tips for Large Gatherings

Cloth napkins are considered appropriate for a tea party, but if you are inviting a lot of guests, feel free to use pretty paper napkins (or even disposable plates.) Or borrow dishes from your mom or grandmother. I’m sure they would be quite pleased to help you out.

Another option is to use pretty disposable plates and napkins for your party. Right now, you should be able to find pretty floral patterns or go with a simple pastel option.

If you shop at Walmart, their Pioneer Woman line has lovely “Blooming Floral” tableware options that are perfect for a spring celebration.

Select Party Favors and Games

Party favors are not necessary when hosting a tea, but they are always appreciated. Something as simple as a piece of chocolate, a paper or cloth napkin formed into a rose, or even a menu card will make your guests smile. (See how to make a napkin rose HERE.) Give your friends something to take home as a remembrance of their afternoon tea with you.

After planning so many tea parties the past few years, my daughters and I have learned that it often helps to have little “table party games” to keep the conversation moving. For my mother-in-law’s Birthday Celebration, we made little cards with tea trivia for each place setting. Then we took turns reading the cards between each course. This not only taught us more about tea, but it kept our conversation lively and fun.

For our daughters joint birthday party, we went even deeper and made handouts for participants to write on for the following topics: How Well Do You Know Her, and Would She Rather. A simple Google search will give you lots of ideas for tea party games.

I always try to offer a Menu keepsake for everyone. You can make your own on Canva, or find similar items on Etsy or Amazon. Simply search for Tea Party Menus or Decorations.

Planning the Tea Party Menu

When planning the menu for your tea, again, consider your guest(s) of honor, and whether she has any favorite tea foods. Plan for three courses, with a final show-stopper dessert. If possible, try to test out your foods ahead of time, or you could even freeze them once they are made and approved. Tea scones and desserts often freeze very well, which makes final preparations even easier.

Savories

We always enjoy tea sandwiches, but it’s good to include at least one savory item that isn’t a sandwich for variety. Consider canapes, tarts, pinwheels, or even simple vegetables such as carrots and celery, or celery with peanut butter.

1
Recipe for Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
This egg salad tea sandwich is easy and delicious. Perfect for your next tea party savory course.
Check out this recipe
2
Recipe for Classic Chicken Salad Spread
Classic Chicken Salad Spread
We love this Classic Chicken Salad that's perfect for spring or summer lunches, picnics, or even tea parties! Serve with sliced bread or crackers.
Check out this recipe
3
Featured Image - Recipes for Cucumber Sandwiches and Canapes
Cucumber Sandwiches and Canapes
Here are four of my favorite ways to make Cucumber Sandwiches and Canapes.
Check out this recipe
4
Featured Image - Cheesy Quiche Mini Tarts
Cheesy Quiche Mini Tarts
Cheesy Quiche Mini Tarts are lined with a pie crust and two types of filling. They are a lovely addition to any appetizer, brunch, or tea party menu.
Check out this recipe
5
Serve Ham Pinwheels as Savory Items at a Tea Party
Ham Pecan Pinwheels
I’ve been making Ham Pecan Pinwheels for many years now, especially for holiday gatherings and tea parties. Roll sliced ham in a delicious spread of cream cheese, pecans, minced onion, and olives. They are so yummy, you’ll want to eat more than one.
Check out this recipe

Scones

For the second course, choose a favorite scone or sweet bread, along with butter, clotted cream, lemon curd, and a jam that compliments the flavor of the scone. You might also offer nuts and fresh fruit, such as strawberries or grapes to go with the scone course.

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Featured Image - Recipe for Orange Cream Scones with Currants
Orange Cream Scones with Currants
This recipe for Orange Cream Scones with Currants is an adaptation of my English Scone recipe that is very similar. My daughters and I love the light orange flavor!
Check out this recipe
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Featured Image - Recipe for Sourdough Cherry Almond Scones
Sourdough Cherry Almond Scones
This recipe for Sourdough Cherry Almond Scones is so delicious, my husband requests that I make them often. The dried cherries and almonds compliment the sourdough and give the scones great flavor.
Check out this recipe
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Featured Image - Recipe for Glazed English Walnuts
Glazed English Walnuts
This is a recipe too good to miss out on. It's easy and our daughters love it served with fruit and vanilla yogurt or simply by the handful. Enjoy!
Check out this recipe

Sweets

Next choose at least three dainty sweets to serve for the third tea course. Consider flavors, colors, and textures to offer as much variety as possible. For instance, a shortbread cookie, macarons, and a tart, or miniature cake.

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Featured Image - Pecan Thyme Shortbread Cookies
Sliced Pecan Thyme Shortbread
Sliced Pecan Thyme Shortbread is one of my favorite tea cookies. Crisp and buttery with pecan crunch and just a hint of thyme. And so easy to make. Just slice and bake!
Check out this recipe
10
Recipe for Lemon-Thyme Pound Cake
Lemon-Thyme Pound Cake
I love making pound cake in the spring and summer. Here's a deliciously moist pound cake for you to try with some fresh thyme.
Check out this recipe
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Featured Image - Recipe for Glazed Lemon Madeleines
Glazed Lemon Madeleines
Glazed Lemon Madeleines are simply delightful to serve at your next tea party or possibly a Mother’s Day Brunch. They’re adorable. Sweet. And delicious.
Check out this recipe

The Finale Dessert

When planning a celebration tea, you may want to consider having a fourth tea course that includes a final show-stopper dessert, usually a cake.

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Featured Image - Recipe for Strawberry Fraisier Cake
Strawberry Fraisier Cake
This Strawberry Fraisier Cake is an amazing showstopper dessert to make for a special brunch, birthday party, or afternoon tea.
Check out this recipe
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Recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Tea Cake
CHOCOLATE BISCUIT TEA CAKE
I made it this Chocolate Biscuit Tea Cake for our youngest daughters 25th birthday, and we loved it! It's an easy no-bake cake to make that's rich and dreamy!
Check out this recipe
14
Recipe for Battenburg Cake with Homemade Marzipan
Battenburg Cake with Homemade Marzipan
This decorative sponge cake will please everyone at your next tea party, flavored with almond and strawberries and blanketed in homemade marzipan that tastes incredible!
Check out this recipe

Teas and Beverages

Finally, it’s time to pick the teas for your tea party, as well as a cooling drink such as lemonade, or a sparkling juice or wine. It’s always nice to offer your guests an icy drink to cool down between tea courses–especially for a spring or summer tea party!

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Featured Image - Recipe for Sparkling Raspberry Mint Lemonade
Sparkling Raspberry Mint Lemonade
My daughters and I have been enjoying this recipe for a few years now, tweaking it each time until it is now perfected! A sweet fizz of lemonade flavored with raspberries and mint. Try it and see what you think. 
Check out this recipe

For our Birthday Tea Parties, I selected the following teas: Apricot Brandy Black Tea (Savory Course); Milady Grey (flavored Earl Grey tea for the Scone Course); and Organic White Champagne Tea (Sweet Course). I like to buy loose leaf tea from Harney and Sons, Twinings, or Tealyra. My daughters and I always watch for specials offered during the year when buying tea.

I hope this post has given you many ideas for planning a Birthday Celebration Tea Party for someone you love. No matter what you decide, be sure to give yourself plenty of time for planning your party and testing out recipes. Feel free to browse my other tea party posts for even more ideas.

“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes.” – George Orwell

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