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When thinking about tea parties, do you find yourself overwhelmed with thoughts of the British gentry, scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Victorian decor, blue haired ladies and pinky fingers stuck up in the air?

Tea Parties

Enjoying afternoon tea while perched on a gilded hotel armchair is a fine British tradition, but hardly sustainable as a regular pursuit. Throwing your own afternoon tea party means you can stick to your own budget, plus you can select your favorite finger food. We have some suggestions for throwing a soiree in style.

Tea Sets, Cup and Mugs, Glasses UrbanDazzle

  •  Select a date and send out your invitations. Depending on the reason for you party your invitation can range from a very casual e-vite to a formal invitation. Include a tea bag in a more casual invite for fun and to set the tone for your party.

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 Tea and Related Accessories UrbanDazzle

Try to provide a variety of tea – Earl Grey, peppermint, chamomile, fruit, herbal and, of course, English Breakfast.

Invest in some beautiful tea cups, salad plates, two and three tier stands, cake domes for a proper setup.

Tea Cups, Salad plates, Two and Three Tier Stands, Cake Domes UrbanDazzle

  • Review recipes for tea time sandwiches and treats. At most tea parties there will be a selection of both savory and sweet bites to satisfy both kinds of appetites. If your tea party is an in-between meal, you will only need a small selection of bites. If your tea party takes the place of a full meal, you’ll want to offer a greater selection.

Setting the three tier server

  • Scones go on the top tier

The protocol of placing the scones on the top tier is due to the fact that during the 1800s when the genre of Afternoon Tea first became popular, and modern kitchen conveniences did not exist, a warming dome was placed over the scones. The dome would only fit on the top tier.


  • Middle tier is for Savories and Tea sandwiches.


  • Bottom tier is reserved for Sweets

The savories and tea sandwiches, followed by the sweets, were placed on the middle and bottom tiers respectively. At the progression of each course, service would be provided to remove each tier.,/p>

  • Plan your menu. Include both savory and sweet food.
Tea Sets and Related Accessories UrbanDazzle
  • Brew and serve a proper pot of tea. Accompany the tea selections with cream, sugar and lemon slices to accommodate the varied tastes of your guests.


  • Relax and enjoy your guests while musing on the merits of tea. Try reading the leaves for amusement. Tea quotes under place cards is a great way to evoke conversations. 

The origination of the term Pinkies up

Originally, all porcelain teacups were made in China, starting around 620 A.D.  These small cups had no handles. In order for one not to spill the hot liquid onto oneself, the proper way to hold the vessel was to place one’s thumb at the six o’clock position and one’s index and middle fingers at the twelve o’clock position, while gently raising one’s pinkie up for balance.

In Europe, when the Meissen Porcelain Company, in 1710, introduced the handle to the teacup, the tradition continued. By placing one’s fingers to the front and back of the handle, called pinching the handle with one’s pinkie extended downward or to the side, pinkie up, again allows balance. It is not an affectation, but a graceful way to avoid spills.

Tea etiquettes

Etiquette and social protocols are not synonymous with morals or ethics. One has nothing to do with the other. A perfectly well mannered person may not have any morals, whilst in reverse a highly ethical person may not have the command of any social graces.

In addition, the term high class or upper class is often confused with one’s economic/financial status. The real definition of class is to be well mannered, considerate and to treat all others with dignity.

Afternoon tea was created to foster friendship. But there are some guidelines that one should adhere to.

Never loop your fingers through the handle, nor grasp the vessel bowl with the palm of your hand.

Do not stir your tea, with your tea spoon, in sweeping circular motions. Place your tea spoon at the six o’clock position and softly fold the liquid towards the twelve o’clock position two or three times.

Never leave your tea spoon in your tea cup. When not in use, place your tea spoon on the right side of the tea saucer.

Never wave or hold your tea cup in the air. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer.

If you are at a buffet tea, hold the tea saucer in your lap with your left hand and hold the tea cup in your right hand. When not in use, place the tea cup back in the tea saucer and hold in your lap.

The correct manner in which one eats a scone is the same manner in which one eats a dinner roll. Simply break off a bite-size piece, place it on your plate, and then apply, with your bread and butter knife, the jam and cream. A fork is not used to eat a scone. And Please, no dipping!

Do not use your tea to wash down food. Sip, don’t slurp, your tea and swallow before eating.

Never place used utensils on a cloth or table. When not in use rest the utensil on the right side of the corresponding plate.


Know your etiquettes but the best etiquette of all is to relax and have a good time without noticing the Faux Pas of others!

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