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How to host a high tea party

Sarah Megginson is a freelance writer, journalist and editor. She currently edits Ultimate, Australia's highest-circulating entertainment magazine available nationally through Sanity stores and writes for magazines including Cosmopolitan...

An afternoon tea celebration

From SheKnows Australia
An elegant afternoon tea is one of the easiest ways to entertain guests and it’s the perfect way to celebrate a birthday, hen’s party, baby shower or anniversary. With these fabulous tips on everything from high tea invitations to sandwich filling ideas, hosting an elegant high tea has never been easier.

High tea

Traditionally, high tea has been a bit of a stuffy affair, but these days the elegant event is a little bit more casual and a lot more fun!

Guests nibble on finger sandwiches, delicious cakes, scones, and fresh whipped cream while sipping hot beverages (or if you want to liven things up, champagne!) and enjoying a chat. What could be more fun than that?!

Follow these steps and you'll be well on your way to being crowned the high tea hostess with the mostess…

1The invitation

First up, you need to decide whether you'd like to throw a formal high tea or a more casual event. The type of invitation you send will set the tone. An e-mail invitation, for instance, indicates a casual get together. If you go to the effort of printing lovely, delicate invitations and posting them individually, guests will assume a more formal tone. Make sure you include a dress code if you expect your guests to dress up!

2Preparing the food

High tea catering is all about finger food. People generally expect sweet treats such as cookies, cupcakes, fruitcake, banana bread, and friands. If you're not too much chop in the kitchen, you can head to the bakery and load up on baked goods; there's no need to sweat it out in the kitchen if that's not your strong point.

You may also want to provide finger sandwiches for your guests. Cucumber and cream cheese, egg and lettuce, and ham and swiss cheese are all great options, while scones are a delicious addition! Serve scones with fresh jam and cream and have plenty of serviettes on hand as finger foods can be messy.

3Setting the tea table

It's best to start with a plain white linen or lace tablecloth. Arrange platters of scones, finger sandwiches, cupcakes, slices and macaroons on simple white platters with bowls heaped with cream and strawberry jam.

This is the perfect opportunity to use that teapot you've had tucked away for years! Prepare two warm beverage jugs – one for tea and one for coffee – and set them at one end of the table. Also, pop some lemon wedges in a jug of iced water and arrange near the hot beverages with some glasses.

4High Tea decorations

To simply and elegantly decorate your tea station, head to your local florist for a bouquet of fresh flowers. A bunch of daisies sprouting from two tall glass vases looks sweet, while a posy of fragrant red roses add a little glamour to the occasion. You may also want to use brightly hued napkins to inject some colour into your food set up.

5Serving the hot beverages

Although it's called High Tea, it's perfectly fine to serve coffee to your guests if that's their desired beverage. Your cups and saucers should be placed to the left of the tray, so it's easy for the person pouring the tea to reach the next cup.

For a more formal affair, brew the tea prior to serving; for something more casual, you can offer a range of teabags for guests to choose their preferred brew and make it themselves. Make sure you have an empty bowl for people to discard their used teabags and spoons.

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