How To Host A High Tea Party At Home

How To Host A High Tea Party At Home

One of the best ways to enjoy time with your friends is during a high tea or afternoon tea party - but who's going to step up and host high tea at home, and what is high tea exactly? If you are going to be hosting your own high tea, then you've come to the right place for advice on how to host a high tea party, and we'll also offer you some beautiful afternoon tea ideas!

At Spotlight we have a gorgeous selection of tea cups, saucers, platters and tiered cake stands, as well as beautiful home and party decorations you can use to elevate the high tea at home experience for your guests and bring your high tea party ideas to life. This guide will go through everything you'll need to host high tea at home, including decorations, tableware, afternoon tea food and dress, to ensure you can create the perfect high tea set up at home for your friends and family.

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What Is High Tea And What Is Afternoon Tea?

While many people use the terms 'high tea' and 'afternoon tea' interchangeably, there are differences between the two that make them quite distinct from one another. Both originated in the United Kingdom and involve a type of meal eaten later in the day that is served with hot tea, but that is where the similarities stop!

  • What is high tea? High tea is named because it was traditionally eaten at a high table, with formal high-backed chairs. It was a filling, hearty meal eaten by workers when they finished their days at 5 pm, and is the equivalent of what we would call dinner today.
  • What is afternoon tea? Afternoon tea is eaten at low tables in comfortable seats and was eaten between lunch and dinner as a filler between meals. Afternoon tea consists of small, savoury sandwiches, scones and sweet treats like cookies, macaroons and slices, served on formal china and in a formal setting.

In the southern hemisphere, high tea is the term used to refer to describe a formal afternoon tea, even though it is historically incorrect. Countries like Australia and New Zealand also have 'morning tea', which is similar to high tea but taken in between breakfast and lunch.

In this article we will be referring to 'afternoon tea' as 'high tea', even though it is technically incorrect, as that is the popular term most are familiar with. So now that that's settled, let's get into how you can throw a beautiful high tea party at home!

How To Decorate Your Home Or Garden For High Tea

You can create your high tea set up at home indoors or outside - there are plenty of beautiful decoration options for both.

Indoor decor for high tea at home

If you choose to host your tea party indoors, you have the advantage of a climate-controlled space without rain or wind to worry about - so you can go all out when decorating and solidify all your favourite high tea party ideas! Vases full of fresh (or even faux) flowers in the space are a great place to bring some colour to your room and hang a few garlands or buntings from the roof to help create that formal, floral atmosphere high teas are known for.

Candles are another great way to create a relaxing atmosphere indoors, as well as providing light and some warmth to a space - choose scented candles with floral or sweet scents for a high tea party.

Outdoor decor for high tea at home

Any decorations you choose for an outdoor high tea party need to be picked with the current weather in mind, so be aware of potential wind and rain on the day of your event.

Fairy lights are a wonderful way to add warmth and ambience to your outdoor space, and can even be swirled down the middle of your table for a little extra decor.

An outdoor umbrella or shade is perfect if it is a warm day and you will be dining in the sun, plus they will keep your food from spoiling in the heat.

If you have an outdoor dining area already set up, make it comfortable with some stylish outdoor cushions that match your dainty, afternoon-tea theme.

How To Set The Table For High Tea At Home

Setting your table is a really fun chance for you to go all in with your decorating, as there are many elements you can include to create the perfect high tea party spread.

Start with a simple but elegant tablecloth - the lacier, the better! A floral tablecloth can also look beautiful, particularly if the colours complement those of your tea or dining set.

Speaking of, bring out your best dinnerware for a high tea set up at home! This includes china plates and bowls, tea cups and saucers, teapots, platters and tiered cake stands, as well as dessert forks and spoons for sweets. Doilies are a lovely choice for popping on the plates of your tiered stand or underneath cups, and set cloth napkins on the table for each guest to use as needed.

Hosting A Fancy High Tea Party At Home

What To Wear To High Tea At Home

The dress code for high tea at home isn't super clear, so how do you decide what to wear to high tea at someone's home? Because what we're doing here is technically 'afternoon tea', you want to dress in your best daywear or summer finery - if we were going for traditional 'high tea' clothes, it would be your sweaty, worn end-of-work day clothes instead!

If you are going out to have high tea at a specialised establishment, then you may need to go all out on your gloves, long dress and fascinator - but hosting at home means you can relax the dress code a bit (if you want). Long, floral summer dresses, stylish sandals and classy jewellery are enough for your at-home afternoon tea party, plus simple headwear like scarves, headbands, claw clips and flower crowns.

If the weather is cold, opt for a knee-length skirt, a cute sweater and a wool beret to keep you warm while also looking great!

What To Serve At A High Tea At Home

Certain foods are a staple at high teas, with a good mix of savoury and sweet options available for you to choose from. If you are wondering what to serve at a high tea, here are some interesting ideas you can try:

  • If you are wondering what to serve for afternoon tea, start with the titular drink. Black tea with milk and sugar (or sugar cubes if you really want to go all out) is an easy choice - varieties like French Earl Grey or English Breakfast are favourites, but you can also go for floral or herbal teas for a more pleasant aroma and sweet taste. Green tea is one of the more unusual afternoon tea ideas, but you can find flowery and exotic blends to fit your theme if you really want to serve it.
  • Finger sandwiches - small, dainty and without crusts, finger sandwiches will be your main source of savoury food during high tea. While there are plenty of traditional filling options like crab and cucumber, egg and cucumber and salmon, you can add your favourite fillings as well if you want. What's important is the size, as you want your finger sandwiches to only take a few bites to eat, and a single hand to hold.
  • Scones - ideally warm and fresh from the oven, scones are a traditional part of high tea served with clotted cream and jam, in your order of choice. Never use a knife to cut open your scone. Instead, break it open with your hands before adding your toppings with a knife.
  • Sweets - the last type of food on your tiered cake stand will be sweets! Fruit, slices, small cupcakes, chocolates, tarts and cake can all feature here. Make sure to include a variety of colours across your sweets so your photos really pop.
Enjoy A High Tea Party In Your Own Home

Enjoy A High Tea At Home With Spotlight

Know that you have plenty of afternoon tea ideas to work with, it's time to grab the high tea essentials from Spotlight! You can find everything you need in our kitchen and dining section online, as well as our outdoor dining collection. Buy online and have your order home delivered, or visit your nearest Spotlight store to choose your afternoon tea supplies in person.

Love hosting at home? Check out our blogs on throwing a masquerade party, a 1920s party and the ultimate kid's birthday party for great party ideas and inspiration. And don't forget to read our buying guides on party tableware and party decorations to ensure you are making the right purchasing choices for your needs.




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