I think what really elevates afternoon tea to a grand occasion is the setting and attention to detail. A coffee and slice of cake with a friend is just fine but I love spending time planning what I'm going to bake and really going to town with the table setting. The cost of hosting a tea party could really run away from you but I always make everything myself and on a tight budget.
Setting the scene
Get your best table cloth out, if you own a tiered cake stand, dust it off and use it as the centerpiece of your table. Otherwise, use your best china and make it a little more special with doilies, folded napkins and homemade name place settings. I've been collecting tea cups and cake stands from charity shops for years and you could mix second hand things in with more modern pieces. I really like the mismatched look and I've never payed more than a couple of pounds for any of the items featured below. Finally, string up some bunting and you're feeling ambitious, make your own. You can get some great free printable bunting online and I even found cute cake bunting which you can print at home.
I made bunting with doilies and the materials cost under £2. The doilies came in a pack of 60 from Poundland and the embroidery string cost about 35p each. Bargain!
They are so easy to make, just fold the doilies over the string and glue down.
A standard afternoon tea comprises a layer of sandwiches, a layer of cakes and a layer of scones but don't feel constrained by this. You can add little pastries, more savoury food and maybe some biscuits. I try not to make too many fiddly items as it can be hard to get the timing right and tea parties are suppose to fun, not tiring.
If you're going to make little sandwiches prepare your fillings in advance and assemble just before your guests arrive to avoid the dreaded soggy sarnie. Scones don't take long to whip up, I rely on this Good Food recipe to make mine. You really can't go wrong with that recipe and I don't think I would go back to shop bought after eating my own creations still warm from the oven.
because they were nice and light which was a good call because eating loads of cake and sandwiches can leave you more than a bit weighed down.
I hope this post has inspired you to host a little get together. If you have any afternoon tea tips for me please do let me know. I would love some savoury food ideas for my next one so links to recipes would be much appreciated.