Are you stumped for an idea of how to make this holiday season special? We invite you to consider one of our favorite holiday celebrations. The Holiday Tea Party. Even though we’re well into the holiday season and Covid issues are raging, there are ways to plan a tea party – even if it’s small or virtual. It may be that this year’s holiday season may need an additional event to help us get into the real spirit of the season. No matter how we celebrate the end of this year and the beginning of the next, it’s nice to find some common ground to come together. And with tea parties, there are dozens of ways to design a celebration to fit your dream. Here are a few reasons why you might want to choose tea and then suggestions to guide the process. Some of them can easily be organized in just a few days. Or even spontaneously!
Holiday tea parties may be the easiest and most economical way to host a tea event. Your home or event space is likely to be decorated. Using the tea party idea can give structure to a general holiday party. People in your life are likely to be looking for fun and healthy festivities. It’s multi-generational. A way to avoid excessive drinking. An afternoon event so that people aren’t out driving late at night.
Easy to make it an annual event. Built on many different cultural traditions. What is popular in large hotels and tearooms, you can replicate at a fraction of the cost. It’s an opportunity to bring out all the best china and silver to make everyone feel special. And it’s like giving a memorable holiday gift to every one of your guests.
Popular Holiday Tea Party Themes:
These are just a few suggestions to get you started.
12 Days of Christmas
Sing-Along Holiday Tea Party (or Caroling)
Santa Claus & The Elves
Mrs. Claus’s Tea Party
Dicken’s Tea Party – A Christmas Carol
Night Before Christmas
Wreath Making Party
Formal “Dress Up” Tea Party
Pajama Tea Party
Sugar Plum Fairy
Holiday Flowers Theme
Cookie Baking and Decorating
Many people make their seasonal plans well in advance. While it’s pretty easy to put a tea party together at the last minute and with some simple preparations, your guests may have conflicts. Certainly, a phone, email or text invitation is fine for most, but receiving a themed invitation in the mail holds special meaning. There are several free online graphic programs that help you make wonderful projects for both email and printed invitations. My personal favorite is Canva. You don’t have to be a graphic designer. It’s really the thought that counts.
The best advice is to start as early as possible, make lists and check them twice, then do as much ahead as possible so that you can enjoy the party. One of the most important parts of your plan is to ask for help. Invite someone to come early and a different helper to stay late for clean-up. Guests usually enjoy being able to contribute something to the party. Look for ways to include them in the plan.
Decorations & Tablescapes:
The most important decoration for any tea party is the table setting. This is now called a “Tablescape”. Setting the table in advance is a great idea – even a day or two ahead if that’s possible. And your tablescape decorations can include small gifts that each guest takes home. A favorite gift is the teacup they use and perhaps a sample of the tea(s) you served. When you choose a theme, consider how you want to decorate. Some are more challenging than others. But choosing a theme for which you already have items on hand, is always a good idea.
A Thematic Menu:
When you select a theme, even if it’s just Christmas, add a little extra fun with your menu. It’s easy to adapt some standard recipes with designs and names to fit your event. Pinterest is a great source for party food ideas and we even created a “Holiday Tea Party” board to inspire you. But TeaTime Magazine has published holiday tea party ideas every year and remains one of the best sources for creative cooking.
One menu tip: try to balance things that can be made ahead and frozen (cookies, cupcakes, gingerbread house walls) vs. things that must be assembled fresh (salads and fruit).
A Virtual Tea Party:
Now that we’ve had almost 2 years of honing our Zoom skills, you can host a virtual tea party. You can send the menu to your guests so that you can simultaneously sip and snack. Or you can create a tea-party-in-a-box gift kit to all your guests.
We’ve also become more experienced with designing safe spaces. So, even though virtual events are one way to deal with Covid, you can also make other adjustments for live events. Allow enough space and keep the group small. Let guests know your plan and the guidelines you’re setting. Keep food simple and served on individual plates rather than sharing a 3-tiered tray or setting out a buffet.
What To Do Ahead:
As much as possible. Make lists and diagrams. As part of your initial plan, mark everything that can be done ahead of time vs. what needs to be done the day-of. Create a schedule for the week before and the actual party day. Sketch out your table setting. Make all the handcrafted ornaments or favors. Map out the room if you need to move furniture. Purchase or collect supplies as soon as you choose your theme. Prep and freeze some of your menu items so that they can be popped into the oven in the hour before the party starts. Arrange trash cans with an extra bag in the bottom. May a “Day-Of” to-do list to tape on your refrigerator door.
Assign someone to be the photographer for the day. Consider one or two locations that make the best backgrounds for photos. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to take a picture. And take a group photo about midway through the announced party time; after everyone has arrived but before someone has to leave.
Ask for help! And make clean-up part of your master plan. This might include decorations and tablescapes that can be reused vs. discarded. Have enough trash cans and liners to make it easy to deal with garbage. Make sure your helpers know your clean-up plan in advance.