My Perfect Tea Party: The Art of Hosting and Service

Anna R.
June 27, 2024

I love entertaining! It’s one of my favorite things to do, especially when it’s themed or coordinated. The great thing about entertaining is that it’s the one time when all my neurotic tendencies and attention to detail are encouraged. I love to host big (10+ people) holiday and Greek Easter dinners. However, I've started enjoying more intimate gatherings that still allow me to create a beautiful space.

For my first small event, I hosted a traditional English tea party. Here’s a breakdown of the day and some hosting tips!

Feel free to shop all my picks and some of the items I use when hosting here

The image is divided into two sections.  The left section shows a top-down view of a tea table set for a gathering. The table is covered with a white tablecloth and adorned with red roses in a vase. There are leopard print teacups and saucers, black plates, and black napkins. The food includes a plate of cucumber sandwiches, a bowl of mixed berries, a platter with various pastries and cookies, and a croissant wrapped in a white lace napkin.  The right section provides a closer view of part of the table. It highlights a bowl of mixed berries, a plate with assorted pastries, a teacup and saucer with a leopard print design, and a bouquet of red roses. The lace napkin with a croissant is also visible.


I stuck to traditional English tea, swapping croissants for scones. I bought desserts from a local Italian bakery, including cookies, brownies, lemon squares, carrot cake, and cannoli. Next time, I’d skip the brownies and go for a fruit tart. Seasonal and guest preferences should guide your choices. If I were doing a fall or winter tea, I would likely rely on a different flavor profile for treats, maybe a chocolate mousse or apple tart.

The sandwiches were the part I was most nervous about! I love tea sandwiches, but I was scared they wouldn’t be good. This time, I went with chicken curry with chopped celery, egg salad, and traditional cream cheese cucumber, all on milk bread. In the future, I think I’d play around with the type of base these are put on. The chicken curry could have been really good on a different type of crispy toast or cracker. Cutting the bread, as you can see, was a bit of a struggle for me. I promise next time I’ll have cleaner edges.

A little tip for the cream cheese sandwiches: thoroughly drain the cucumbers after cutting them up. I placed them between two paper towels with a pinch of salt.

For the chicken curry salad, I found that the easiest way to do this is to buy a rotisserie chicken, lightly shred it, and then cook it over medium heat with light olive oil for a few minutes before mixing it with the mayonnaise. I added celery this time, and it gave it a really nice crunch.

For the egg salad (as well as the chicken curry), I used vegan mayo. I prefer vegan mayo because regular mayo kinda grosses me out. In the same way, eggs creep me out if I think about them for too long. But again, we’ve established I’m unwell. Also, make sure you always use paprika in your egg salad sandwich; it makes it!

The image is split into two sections.  The left section shows a black teapot pouring tea into a cup. The cup and saucer have a leopard print design with a gold rim. A gold spoon with a flower design is placed on the saucer. In the background, there is a white tablecloth, a glass of water with red roses, and a plate with cucumber sandwiches.  The right section displays three colorful tea packages from "Madame Zuzu's." The packages have vibrant designs: one is green with an image of a tea plantation, another is pink with cherry blossom illustrations labeled "Sakura Kyoto Cherry Blossom Green Tea," and the third is red with berries and leaves labeled "Lemon Berry Meritage."
Tea from Madame ZuZu's

For tea, I went with Earl Grey from Madame ZuZu’s, one of my absolute favorite tea shops. All of their teas are exceptional quality and are made with ingredients from independent farmers.

Madame ZuZu’s is owned by designer Chloe Mendel and her husband Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. They sell all their teas online, but they also have a full cafe in the Chicago Northshore suburbs.

The tea was so good that we broke into some of their samples and did a whole tea tasting! As mentioned, we started with the Classic Earl Grey, then moved to Sakura Kyoto Cherry Blossom, and ended with the French Kissed Moroccan Mint.

I already own a number of their teas, but will be making room in my cabinet for the Sakura Kyoto Cherry Blossom. It’s light and sweet, but naturally sweet, not that overly manufactured taste.

I always make sure when I’m hosting to send my guests home with leftovers. Personally, I encourage them to bring their own tupperware as it’s more environmentally friendly, but also because I know I’m crazy enough to spend an obscene and unnecessary amount on restaurant-grade tupperware. But with all that, send your guests home with something. Bonus points if it ties to the theme. Today, I sent them home with leftover pastries and additional loose tea samples from Madame ZuZu’s.

The image is divided into two sections.  The left section shows a close-up of a dessert arrangement. There is a glass bowl filled with mixed berries, including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and yellow cherries. Next to it is a tiered tray with an assortment of pastries and cakes, including a large canelé, a chocolate-covered dessert, and various small squares and cookies. In the background, a leopard print teacup and saucer are visible.  The right section highlights another part of the dessert table. It features a tiered tray with a variety of pastries, including canelés, cookies, and squares. A croissant is wrapped in a white lace napkin and placed on a leopard print saucer. There is also a bowl of mixed berries and a small vase with a pink peony. Black napkins and a white tablecloth complete the elegant setting.

Hosting Tips from Yours Truly

  • Guest Comfort: Prioritize comfort with blankets, appropriate temperature, lotion in the bathroom, and a never-empty cup. Be attentive and watch for nonverbal cues.
  • Atmosphere: Create a welcoming atmosphere with a nice playlist, dim lighting, and candles (scented if you like, here are my favs). Consider doing a cleanse before and after the event. Seriously babe, you’ll need it. Be intentional about the space and energy you want to create as well as the energy you want to exude in that space. 
  • Cleanliness: Clean your house a day or two before, with a light pickup on the day of. Deep clean areas you might not think need it, like the shower. No one wants to visit a messy home.
  • Preparation: Set your energy by relaxing a few hours before guests arrive. Prep 80% of things the day prior, such as setting the table, making floral arrangements, and cleaning. This allows you to enjoy the day of the event more.
  • Guest Inclusion: Ensure guests feel included. Find common points of interest between them in conversations. If using place cards, seat people with common interests next to each other. Mix introverts and extroverts to balance the table. Introduce guests to one another to make everyone feel welcomed.

Hosting is a serious responsibility—at least in my heart. It can be an act of love and service, so take your role seriously. If you don’t take care of your guests, they’re never going to want to come over again. Also, take time to enjoy the moment of hosting, and remember, it’s a skill you’ll improve over time. Happy hosting, and send me tablescape pics!


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The image is split into two sections.  The left section shows a tea setting with a black teapot, a glass bowl filled with sugar cubes and a pair of tongs, a leopard print teacup and saucer with a gold spoon, and a vase with red roses. A plate with cucumber sandwiches and a glass of water are visible in the background.  The right section highlights a close-up of a hand holding a gold spoon with a sugar cube over a leopard print teacup filled with tea. In the background, there is a bowl of sugar cubes, a vase with red roses, and a plate with cucumber sandwiches. The hand has long, manicured nails painted in a pink shade with decorative accents.