Whether it’s for younger children or the preteen coffee club, a Victorian tea party is an elegant way to spend an afternoon and learn a little about a different era in history. All you need is a teapot, teacups and some Victorian delicacies. Throw in some kids dressed to the nines and you have yourself a tea party!
In Victorian England, “tea” was not only a drink – it was a whole meal! Invented as an afternoon snack between “dinner” (what we now call lunch) and “supper” (what we now call dinner), tea provided a break from work, a social event, and a chance to show off your elegant manners and superior hospitality.
Back then, tea was imported from India and China in speedy sailing ships called “clippers.” The first ship to make it back to England with the latest crop of tea was able to charge an extravagant premium on their goods, so it was a race across the world for Victorian tea-traffickers! Because of the high price, drinking tea was a sign of class, and the lady of the house was often the only one to hold the key to the “tea box” for fear that servants might steal some of the precious leaves.
Ready to sit down to your own family tea party? Here's how to make the event the toast of the town!
- Tea (hot or iced), raspberry lemonade
- Cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches with the crusts cut off (The reluctant eater may prefer chicken or egg salad.)
- Scones with clotted cream, strawberry jam and butter
- Small tea cakes, petit fours, pastries or cupcakes
- A linen tablecloth and napkins
- Teapot, cups, saucers and plates
- Serving dishes for butter, clotted cream and strawberry jam
- Creamer, sugar bowl and sugar tongs for cubes
- Utensils, including serving spoons
Tea Service Tips
To start the tea, the hostess should pour the tea for the guests. She is then free to sit down and enjoy the conversation while the guests help themselves. Since it is a tea, guests should feel free to use their hands to eat, but they should try to take small, delicate bites – there's plenty of food for everyone! To drink your tea like a pro, hold the saucer close to your chest with your left hand, and lift the cup with your right to take small sips. When putting sugar into your tea, be sure not to use the sugar spoon to stir your tea – this will leave it wet and sticky for everyone else! Instead, drop the sugar into the tea and then use your own tea spoon to stir. To signal the end of the tea, the hostess puts her napkin to the left of her plate.
For adults, a tea party consisting of tea, food, and conversation should suffice. But kids want to have fun! Let them enjoy the party by dressing up, playing games and making crafts. Here's how:
Victorians loved flowers. Many flowers had different meanings. Flower dictionaries were consulted in order to decipher the particular meaning behind a flower. We still acknowledge that red roses mean love, but did your know that to Victorians, basil meant hatred, daisies signaled innocence, and pansies symbolized thoughtfulness?
Here are some crafts that involve the use of flowers:
Tussie Mussie (a small bouquet)
What you need:
- Small silk flowers (have enough for everyone at the party to make a bouquet)
- Lace doilies (one for each person at the party)
- Silk Ribbon (1/2-inch wide cut into 8-inch strips)
What you do:
Have each child select flowers for their tussie mussie. Wrap the wire stems of the flowers around each other in order to form a bouquet. Wrap the doily around the entire bouquet and tie it with the ribbon.
What you need:
- Craft headbands
- Small silk flowers (enough for everyone to adorn their headbands)
- Silk ribbon (1/2-inch wide)
What you do:
Wrap the silk ribbon around the entire length of the headband. Secure the end of the ribbon by tucking under the wrapped portion. Select the flowers with which you wish to adorn the headband and wrap the wire stems around the headband. For more pizazz, add some flowing ribbons at the ends of the headband. Simply tie the ribbon around a flower stem and wrap the stem around the end of the headband.;
Lookabout - The host shows an item to the group. The group then leaves the room, and the host hides the item. The group returns and looks for the hidden item. When a person spots the item, he or she sits down. The last person standing then becomes “it”.
Name the Nursery Rhyme - A person says a line from a nursery rhyme without giving the name of the rhyme. The group then tries to guess the name of the rhyme.
Oh, Great Queen - The queen sits on a “throne” and her subjects, the children in the group, come up one at a time and stand before her. The subject says without laughing, “Oh, great queen, I worship thee and bow down before thee”. The queen then makes silly faces and goofy poses in an attempt to get her subject to laugh. When a subject laughs, he or she then becomes the new king or queen.
Potato Race - Two rows of 12 potatoes are put on the ground three feet apart. A basket is placed at the end of the rows. Two players compete against each other to be the first to place all of their potatoes in the basket using only a spoon. The players are not allowed to use their fingers to pick up the potatoes.
Want more themed party ideas? Take these great ideas out for a spin: