30th Anniversary Afternoon Tea

My first attempt at hosting a tea party was a humble tea for two.  My second attempt was a more ambitious one …

With the help of Lady T. and Lady J. (ever encouraging me to cultivate my interest in afternoon tea!) and a team of 14 women, we spent 3 months organizing a tea party for 60 guests to celebrate the 30th anniversary of a philanthropy organization of which I’m a member.

We rented a space and hired a caterer to provide the food and tea but we did all the decorating ourselves.  We also organized a fashion show for the guests featuring unique clothing from the Cotton Cottage.  We charged $40/person, which was just enough to break even.


Invitation designed by Andrew Moss (graphic artist from Birmingham, England)

Table decorating is an art that really adds to the visual pleasure of a dining experience.  The first time I ever had the pleasure of dining off of real china was in Finland in April 2006.  Our friend J.’s mother was a collector of Russian Lomonosov china and she insisted on hosting a Karelian dinner for us at her house.  Not only did I fall in love with china (it was so fine and delicate, it was translucent!) but it was my first introduction to the art of table settings.  Since that day, every table setting I see is a work of art!

A.’s table setting with Russian Lomonosov china

Inspired, I finally acquired my own set of tableware and received gifts of napkin rings several years ago.  I may yet splurge on a set of proper china someday!

For our table decorating “showcase,” members brought their own china, tableware, and decorations which included napkin rings, napkins, tea caddies, and centerpieces.  Here were some of the themed table settings:

Most of the tables were rose themed with dusty rose as the main color.

This is my table. My theme was sunflowers with hues of orange, yellow, and red.

DSC00804 (Small)

This is Lady J.’s beautiful purple theme. She’s crazy for purple!

This is S.’s Mardi Gras theme. Her table really stood out from the rest of the tables.

And look at the backs of the chairs too!


For the tea favors, we gave out silver-plated demi teapot teaspoons tied with a ribbon and tag with the name of our organization and event.  We sold extras for $5 each.

I love tea caddies!  Here are 2 caddies stacked with the sandwiches, savories, and fruit courses.


(Clockwise, left to right) Egg salad on wheat bread, fruit cup with yogurt dressing, tropical Hawaiian ham on sweet bread, chicken walnut salad on potato bread, asparagus quiche, and apricot brie puff pastry (center).

Dessert and scone filled tea caddy

(Left to right) White chocolate raspberry cheesecake petit four, cherry almond scone, and strawberry bar.

Organizing this tea event was a learning experience and I’m happy to report that everything went off without a hitch.  It was a lovely and fun afternoon and everyone had a great time.

“A great idea should always be left to steep like loose tea leaves in a teapot for a while to make sure that the tea will be strong enough and that the idea truly is a great one.”

― Phoebe Stone, The Romeo And Juliet Code

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One thought on “30th Anniversary Afternoon Tea

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