I often get the urge to create an afternoon tea party for my friends or family, but time isn’t always on my side.
And, if you didn’t realise, afternoon tea baking and creating can take up a lot of your time, although a dainty and ladylike mealtime, it can take hours to bake, make, create, lay the table, clear up and (without a washing up fairy) get those china plates clean again at the very end.
So, if you have the urge to host a tea party, why not ask your food-loving friends to bring along a treat or two, this way they can show off their signature bakes or add something to the table to alleviate some stress from your own shoulders.
For this event, I personally handpicked my guests, inviting them along with this concept in mind so that they knew where they stood from the beginning – no surprises for them later on when it comes to the “bring & share” concept.
Once they had accepted my invitation, I created a dedicated and private Facebook event page so that we could easily communicate with each other, share our menu ideas and ensure that everything was covered to put together a full afternoon tea menu – it worked perfectly.
This was entirely up to my guests to decide on what they wanted to bring and I simply added the bits between where required, such as the finger sandwiches and freshly baked cherry scones – I made these as my guests arrived so they were hot from the oven – the scent of scones from the oven is always a winner!
Bring & Share Tea Party Menu
Selection of finger sandwiches, including egg mayonnaise & cress, cucumber & cream cheese and cheese & ham bites with tomato bread.
Homemade sausage rolls and miniature cheese & onion rolls
Freshly baked cherry scones, served with Rodda’s clotted cream and mixed berry preserve
Mini cakes including chocolate brownie bites, strawberry jam doughnuts and chocolate truffle cake pops
Chocolate dipped strawberries, strawberry pops, passionfruit marshmallows and blackberry truffles.
Ice cream bar, including gelato in various flavours – allotment rhubarb, mint choc, cookies and cream, vanilla, elderflower and lemon sorbet with varied sauces & sprinkles
Needless to say, we weren’t stuck for food, there were plenty of leftovers to take home for seconds later on – it worked perfectly. I especially loved the ice cream bar, as it was a hot day and although it melted fairly quickly, it was a refreshing course.
Hosting this within my own home meant that I could set up the night before, laying the table, preparing the mis-matching china and having empty plates and cake stands awaiting my guests made life so much easier on the day. My guests loaded up their chosen crockery with their own treats, helping to take them up to my tea salon between them.
Preparing as much as you can the night before helps to keep you relaxed as a host and I was given the next piece of advice early on in my afternoon tea hosting days… get dressed up and put your make up on before you do anything else, then you look fabulous and don’t need to rush it nearer the start time – works every time!
I had forgot to source some freshly cut flowers, of which I would normally pop into teacups or spouts of my teapots, but it didn’t matter. I currently have a garden full of herbs, so I picked handfuls of fresh herbs, popped some water into my favourite teacups and milk jugs, dotting them around my table for some greenery instead.
Not only do these look great, but they smell fantastic too, give it a go.
I don’t tend to go overboard on decor, but popping a purple gingham tablecloth on before laying the table instantly adds a block of bold colour, the rest is always then a bonus.
My lovely friend Ally brought along a corner table to set up her ice cream bar, so she set it with twinkly fairy lights and faux candles in mason jars entwined in mini floral bunting, it looked so inviting and was the perfect addition to the room for this afternoon.
I invited some local and creative new friends, all of whom I have met in or around Cambridge over the last few years, the guest list consisted of:
Debbie Wallwork a local and talented photographer at Debbie Wallwork Photography who has taken many of my own promotional photography over the years, she’s just fantastic.
Janet Marsh of Sweetie Factory, she creates stunning and bespoke candy or dessert buffet tables all over the country. She’s always tempting me with her delicious afternoon tea treats, she’s a great baker & creative genius!
Bex Waldron, my lovely friend and fantastic non-religious celebrant at White Rose Ceremonies – she’s your lady if you ever need somebody to provide a memorable baby naming, wedding or even funeral ceremony.
Suzzy Smith, a local and very talented interior designer at Suzzy Smith Interiors – she was brutally honest on my request on how to improve my own afternoon tea boudoir and I just lover her blog guide to surviving Ikea, she was a brilliant tea guest.
Ally MacKenzie of Sweet Ally Scoops – owner of “Lottie”, the most stunning ice cream van you’ll ever see, she’s available for hire to scoop away at your own celebration or event – her selection of ice creams & sorbets are locally sourced and simply stunning!
Not forgetting, Eddy, my gorgeous 11 year old Collie cross, he was beautifully behaved and gave my guests lots of cuddles on the sofa towards the end of the afternoon, he guilt tripped us into letting him join in the fun – just look at that face, how could we not?!
Please do check out my video blog from this bring & share tea party, I think my guests enjoyed it just as much as I did.
Now, to decide on the next theme and guest list… puppy tea party perhaps?!
Read my new “About Me” page here!
To find out more about my afternoon tea etiquette tips, take a look here.
Please note – This post is simply for fun, with plans for more of these events in the future to help me develop my baking skills and enjoy some good food, tea and great company with my afternoon tea-loving friends and contacts along the way.
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All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.