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Pinkies Up! Hosting an Unforgettable Tea Party

There are few things more elegant than a hot cup of afternoon tea. Hosting a tea party gives you a chance to mingle with friends while enjoying treats you may not find anywhere else. Grab your top hats and your white gloves: here's what you need to know to host a tea party.

Hit the Shop: If you have a full tea service hiding away in your china cabinet, you're already in great shape. If not, it's time to do a little shopping. Check out antique shops, consignment sales, and thrift shops for tea cups and saucers, tea pots, sugar bowls, and cream jugs. There's no need to drop tons of money on high end china (unless that's something you want to do, of course). An eclectic blend of pieces can add visual interest to your party while allowing your guests to choose a cup that matches their tastes.

Choose a Dress Code: Afternoon tea is a chance to get more dressed up than you would for many other occasions. It can be a fun opportunity for your guests to try out accessories that they normally wouldn't wear. You may choose to set out hats, costume jewelry, and other pieces for your guests to dress up with as they enter the party. 

Set the Scene: An elegant tea party setup doesn't need to be extravagant. Draping your table with a crisp, clean tablecloth is an excellent way to start. Set each place with a tea cup and saucer, a small plate, a napkin, and silverware. Serve your guests water in unbreakable glasses to make sure accidental breaks don't ruin the party. Place cream jugs and sugar bowls at intervals on the table for easy access. As host you'll make and pour the tea, so keep the pot or pots near you. Finish your table off with a bouquet and (if you're feeling creative) name cards. 

Choose Your Flavors: Prepare several flavors of tea to ensure each of your guests has an option that suits their tastes. Consider offering caffeinated teas, such as earl gray, English breakfast, and green tea, alongside herbal options, such as peppermint or chamomile. Read the tea's packaging to determine how long to let each variety steep. 

Don't Forget the Nibbles: What's tea time without treats? One of the benefits of hosting a tea party is that afternoon tea isn't a full meal. The goal is to give your guests sweet and savory options to nibble on alongside their tea. Set out tea cookies, small cakes, scones, and other baked goods on an attractive tray. For savory options, try traditional tea sandwiches like cucumber, tuna, or smoked salmon and cream cheese. 

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