How To Throw An Afternoon Tea Party: Setting Up A Table

How To Throw An Afternoon Tea Party: Setting Up A Table

Afternoon Tea Party

Afternoon tea is a timeless tradition that offers an elegant and sophisticated atmosphere for friends and family to come together. Whether you’re hosting a formal gathering or having a casual get-together, setting the perfect afternoon tea table will make it all the more enjoyable.

From selecting the right dishes and arranging the food in tiers to choosing the ideal beverage accompaniments, follow these simple tips on how to set up an unforgettable afternoon tea party!

How To Set The Table For Afternoon Tea

Setting the table for afternoon tea catering can be an art form. Whether you’re having afternoon tea with friends or family, it should feel special. To achieve the perfect look, start by selecting an appropriate setting – a dining table or even a large coffee table in the living room would work well.

Place a white tablecloth on top, and dress it up with some colourful napkins or pretty placemats as desired. Place a selection of delicate china plates, cups and saucers for each guest, along with cutlery and glassware such as teaspoons and cake forks. Arrange the food neatly on tiered cake stands – finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, mini quiches and pastries are all great options.

Finish your spread with sweet treats like macarons, meringues and cupcakes decorated with edible flowers. Lastly, provide guests with a selection of hot beverages such as herbal teas, hot chocolate or freshly-brewed coffee alongside pitchers of cold drinks like lemonade or elderflower cordial. With these tips in mind, you’ll surely throw an unforgettable afternoon tea party!

How To Arrange Tea Party Food

The food is one of the most important components of a tea party. Whether you’re hosting a small gathering or a large event, it’s important to choose the right assortment of treats.

Start by selecting a few savoury items such as finger sandwiches, mini quiches and pastries. For something sweet, try scones with jam and cream, macarons, meringues and cupcakes.

Don’t forget about drinks! Provide guests with hot beverages like herbal teas and coffee, as well as cold drinks like lemonade or elderflower cordial.

To arrange everything neatly on the table, use tiered cake stands or platters that are easily transported around the room.

Finally, garnish your spread with edible flowers for extra colour and texture.

Traditional 3-Layer Tiers

The traditional 3-tier tier is a classic way to arrange tea party food. It features a top layer of sweets, a middle layer of scones, breads, and pastries, and a bottom layer of savoury bites and tea sandwiches. This tiered system creates an elegant look and allows guests to choose from various delicious treats.

To create the tiers, use cake stands or platters in descending sizes. Start by arranging the top tier with sweet treats like macarons and meringues. On the middle tier, display scones with jam and cream alongside mini quiches and other savoury items. Place finger sandwiches on the bottom tier for easy access. Finally, garnish with edible flowers for extra colour and texture.

What To Have For Tea

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is a great way to enjoy quality time with friends or family. There are numerous options for what you can have for tea. For a classic afternoon tea, you might opt for finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, cakes, pastries and macarons.

If you want to add something special, try an array of petit fours or bite-sized desserts. It’s also nice to include some savoury items like mini quiches or cheese puffs. Be sure to include a pot of your favourite tea alongside milk and sugar for a complete experience! With these tasty treats on the menu, your tea party will be sure to be a hit!


Sandwiches are a classic staple for afternoon tea. There are many different types of sandwiches you can make to serve at your tea party, from the traditional egg and cress club sandwich, to egg-less mayonnaise sandwiches, salmon club sandwiches and even vegetarian BLT bagels.

For something extra special, why not try some katsu sandos or paneer & cheddar sandwiches? 

Prepping your sandwich fillings in advance will help to avoid soggy slices of bread later on. You can find plenty of ideas for delicious sandwich recipes online that you can use to create the perfect spread for your afternoon tea.


Scones are a classic afternoon tea treat. Whether you opt for the traditional plain scone served with cream and jam, or something more adventurous such as rhubarb & custard or walnut scones, they all contribute to an enjoyable and memorable afternoon tea experience.

Teacakes & Buns

Teacakes & buns are a delicious indulgence and the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon tea. Whether you opt for traditional teacakes or something more adventurous, like Earl Grey teacakes or Ukrainian poppy seed buns, you’re sure to find something to suit everyone.


Biscuits are a classic treat for any afternoon tea and can be enjoyed with a hot cup of tea or coffee. Whether you opt for traditional favourites such as shortbreads, cookies and ginger nuts or something more adventurous like berry & chocolate loaded cookies or strawberry & cream roly polys, everyone is sure to find something they love.


Patisserie is the French art of creating beautiful and delicious pastries. Patisserie chefs are renowned for their flair, creativity and skill in combining flavours, textures and ingredients to create mouth-watering treats. From decadent éclairs to delicate tartlets, patisserie is a treat for all the senses.

For an indulgent afternoon tea experience, there is no better way than to serve up a selection of patisserie creations. Perfectly crafted macarons, exquisite tarts filled with seasonal fruit or creamy custard, delectable choux buns filled with salted caramel or freshly made canelés — the possibilities are endless.

The options might seem intimidating at first but if you take your time and plan ahead you can prepare a stunning display of patisserie treats with ease.


Cakes are the star of any celebration and a time-honoured favourite for afternoon tea. With so many delicious varieties, it can be difficult to choose just one. Whether you go for a classic Victoria Sponge, moist Chocolate Fudge Cake or light and fluffy Carrot Cake, there is sure to be something to delight all your guests.


When hosting an afternoon tea, the most important thing is to create a pleasant atmosphere

With all these tips that we shared, you will definitely throw an unforgettable afternoon tea party that everyone will enjoy!

Enjoy special moments with friends and family over an afternoon cup of tea – wonderful!

If you are looking for a little extra help figuring out your table spread for your afternoon tea event, contact us below or send us an email. Pearl Lemon Catering specialises in afternoon tea catering and we are more than happy to help.


What are three rules of etiquette for tea parties?

  1. Avoid too much food on your plate. Tea parties are intended to be snack treats, not a full course meal.
  2. Avoid placing the sugar spoon in your cup as courtesy for other guests.
  3. Avoid leaving a spoon in your teacup while drinking tea, that is just silly!

What is the dress code for an afternoon tea party?

Literally wear what makes you feel most comfortable, although dressing in white would be best. Please avoid pyjamas – it’s the afternoon, remember?

Should I serve alcohol at an afternoon tea party?

Serving alcohol at a tea party such as champagne or wine is nice for afternoon tea parties. But, not too much, it is not an occasion for getting drunk. Beer, Tequila and other strong alcoholic drinks are not ideal for this occasion.

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