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How to host your own afternoon tea

It’s not as hard as you think to host your own afternoon tea party. Believe me, I hosted my own, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!

If you’re celebrating an occasion like a birthday, engagement or baby shower, holding your own afternoon tea instead of going to a hotel or restaurant is a lot more flexible.

You can hold the afternoon tea anytime you want, decorate how you want and personalise the menu to suit the attendees and budget. Plus, it can be a lot more fun!

Tempted? I’ve put together some useful guidelines to help you plan the perfect party

Put your guest list together

The first thing is to work out how many people you want to invite. Remember, the more people you ask, the more food and drink you’ll need.

You’ll need to take any allergies or food preferences of guests into consideration, so everyone has something to nibble on!

Set the date and send out your invites

Once you have the date and time sorted, it’s time to invite people to your party!

If it’s a formal celebration, you may want to send out a pretty handwritten invitation. When I held my first afternoon tea, it was a casual affair, and I just invited people via Facebook Messenger!

The important thing is to get an indication of how many people are coming, so you know how much food and drink to prepare! I recommend setting a date for people to RSVP by so you don’t have to spend time chasing people up.

Plan what food and drink you’re serving

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to food for afternoon tea, but this is what I recommend you serve:


Serve three or four different varieties of sandwiches, ideally with the crusts off and cut into fingers, squares or triangles. Salmon and cream cheese, ham and mustard, cheese and pickle, cucumber, and beef and horseradish are all fine choices.

Either brown or white bread is fine; however I’d recommend a mixture as some people do prefer one over the other.
As an alternative to one of your sandwiches, you might opt to serve something savoury like a pie or quiche instead.


Scones make an afternoon tea! Try to serve at least one type, be it plain, fruit, cheese or something more exotic like cherry or date and walnut.

If you’re making the scones, bake them on the day, so they’re nice and warm. Serve sweet scones with jam and clotted cream, and butter with savoury ones.

Strawberry jam is the standard, but if you want to serve another type of jam, then go for it! Shop-bought jam is absolutely fine, but if you want to go all out, why not make your own?


Try serving three or four different types of cakes, macarons, pastries or biscuits.

You can either bake these yourself or buy them.


It wouldn’t be afternoon tea without a brew! Work out which type of tea you want to serve, whether it’s a traditional English breakfast or a delicate herbal or fruit tea.

Want to make your afternoon tea extra special? Why not pair your tea with the food you serve? For example, Earl Grey goes well with sandwiches, whilst Darjeeling is fantastic paired with sweet treats.

If you want to serve something a little more… adult, prosecco, wine, jugs of cocktails, or Pimm’s are excellent choices.

Prepare your food

Some food can be prepped in advance whilst some needs to be made on the day. Although sandwiches should ideally be prepared on the day, you can make your sandwich fillings ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. Nobody wants soggy sandwiches after all!

If you’re buying your food instead of making it… I won’t tell anyone!

Decorate and set up

The beauty of hosting your own afternoon tea is that you can decorate the way you want.

Want to serve cakes and sandwiches on delicate china plates on an exquisite lacy tablecloth? Sounds wonderful! Want to serve tea in mugs on a plastic tablecloth? Go for it! It’s entirely up to you how you decorate.

You’ll also want to think about your other decorations. Will you have fresh flowers on the table? Are you going to hang bunting around the room? Will you have a music playlist set up on Spotify?

Also… will you have enough chairs for everyone who is coming along?

Enjoy hosting!

Try and get as much prep done before people arrive as possible. This means you can relax and enjoy the party with your guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen!

If you’re able to, why not rope in a willing friend who can help?
When your guests arrive, offer them a drink. If you’re serving tea, you might want to have a teapot on the go to make things easier. When everyone has arrived, it’s time to tuck in!

So there you go… you’ve just successfully hosted an afternoon tea! So have a drink, relax… and leave the washing up until morning!

What the lovely people