How To Throw The Perfect Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is definitely one of the most quintessentially British ways to celebrate any occasion. It has been said that afternoon tea was invented by the Duchess of Bedford in the 1840s, when she asked for something to eat with her cup of tea. Nowadays anyone can enjoy a brew at home, making hosting a tea party an accessible and low cost way to celebrate any occasion.

Scones, clotted cream, cakes and a cups of tea, help to make up a mouth-watering afternoon tea. With King's Coronation this bank holiday weekend, we thought that it would be the perfect time to share our favourite ways to make the perfect afternoon tea for your family and friends.

Choose a Theme

No tea party is complete without the music, place settings, food, and ambiance. The idea is to create a calm, relaxing atmosphere that makes your guests feel special. When hosting a tea party for a special occasion, consider a theme and plan your menu and decorations accordingly. For instance, when celebrating the King's Coronation, you could prepare his favourite sweet treats like traditional fruit cake, or serve Victoria Sponge with lashings of purple plum jam with Union Jack plates and napkins. You could celebrate a birthday with a theme such as Alice in Wonderland, Bridgerton, or maybe host a fun potions tea party if they are Harry Potter fans.

The Basics

Nothing says afternoon tea quite like a three tiered cake stand. You can create the most stunning cake displays that add height to any delicious cakes, cheese and hors d'oeuvres you have. We love this three tiered classic white stand that we purchased during lockdown to celebrate VE Day, which is perfect for our home-baked treats. You can also choose a cardboard or plastic as alternative, or perhaps even have a go at making your own.

Not forgetting that a tea party wouldn't be complete with cups, saucers and plates. We have a set that my husband's Nanna gave to me, but you can always find some lovely vintage cake stands, sets, teapots in local charity shops, if everything is a bit mismatched so much the better! Unfortunately we don't have a vintage tea pot or milk jug. But we have a cream coloured tea pot that we picked up from the charity shop and actually had a cute milk bottle that we used for our milk. It worked out pretty well.

Setting the scene

For our afternoon tea parties, we always begin with a fresh, crisp white tablecloth as a foundation. You could leave the tablecloth smooth and straight or angled and a little rumpled. When it comes to setting your table for an afternoon tea, you really can go all out; just remember to keep on theme. So if you're celebrating the King's Coronation, make a decision as to whether you want to go all out and bright with Union Jack bunting and tableware or go for a style that’s a bit more subtle and decorate accordingly. You could add a floor-length cloth and top it with draped white linen, then decorate with flowers, greenery, and bunting for a celebratory tea party. Remember to leave plenty of room for teapots, jugs, and cake stands.

No afternoon tea is complete without some good old fashioned bunting. If you're anything like me, you will have party bunting at hand for any occasion - decorate your table, room or perhaps the garden. However, if you have some fabric or card hanging around the house you could have a go at making your own bunting. We wanted to make our own Union Jack bunting which was easy and so much fun to do. All you need to do is cut out some triangles making sure you leave a small tab measuring about 2-3cm enough to fold over, colour them in with either felt tip pens or paint. Using a long piece of string or ribbon evenly space out of triangles, fold the tabs over the string and secure with sticky tape. Ta-dah... you have made your own bunting!

The Food

There aren't any rules when it comes to the food, but a standard afternoon tea menu comprises a tier of sandwiches, a tier of cakes and one of scones or teacakes. But you could also throw in pastries, petits-fours or biscuits in there too if you want to.

The bottom tier is reserved for the sandwiches and often called the savoury course. It is always a good idea to have plenty of variations of sandwiches on your tea party menu, whether you wanted to keep it traditional with cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayonnaise with cress or go for something a little more adventurous like radish rose, or prosciutto, apple and brie. Whatever you decided, don't forget to find out if your guests have any allergies or dietary restrictions before hand!

We like to keep our afternoon tea parties traditional and choose three to four different types of sandwiches for our guest these are normally cheese and cucumber, cured ham and mustard, chicken, and egg cress. As most afternoon tea sandwiches are crustless, they are often cut in half or into finger sandwiches or triangles. It is so much easier to fill the sandwiches before removing the crusts and dividing into smaller pieces — it will be easier to assemble, and you'll end up with neat edges.

The middles tier is for scones, breads and pastries. Scones or teacakes are easy to whip up the day of your afternoon tea party and are typically served alongside clotted cream and jam, or homemade preserves. Some prefer to send the scones to the table separately when the sandwich course has been finished so that they are served warming meaning the clotted cream gently melts into the gorgeous fluffy scone. If you prefer this, you could choose to add an assortment of savoury pastries likes sausage rolls, pin wheels, mini quiches or tartlets.

Top is for the sweet treats. You could includes a mixtures of pasties and cakes. You could begin with a traditional checkerboard cake, fruit jam tarts, macarons, or a variety of mini cakes or cupcakes. My preference when it comes to the top tier is always mini cupcakes. A Victoria sponge is always a safe bet, as well as a carrot cakes or chocolate cake for those with a real sweet tooth If you’re feeling particularly confident, you could also try your hand at making fondant fancies or macarons.

The Teas

No afternoon tea is complete without the TEA. Now, I like to think myself as a tea connoisseur and in my opinion a good staple tea with milk is always the way to go. But choosing the right cup of tea and pairing it with traditional teatime foods will lead to a beautiful and delicious afternoon with friends. A good place to start is with one of the most popular black teas, Earl Grey which has a citrus flavour and pairs so well with the sweet treats in an afternoon tea. Assam tea is more of a robust tea that pairs well with milk and sugar making it ideal with savoury foods, finger sandwiches, quiche, as well as teatime sweets. A classic afternoon tea are Darjeeling which are especially nice with sweets like pastries, chocolate, and fruit-based desserts.

Unless you are more of a green tea drinker that are particularly well suited to pairing with savoury sandwiches, while mint green tea pairs nicely with sweets. As well as herbals such as lavender, chamomile or mint.

Whether you choose to go for a more formal afternoon tea, or a family style buffet tea party, the most important thing is to have fun! Enjoy the food and your company, and in our case celebrate the first coronation for many.

What are you doing for the King's Coronation? A picnic in a park? Afternoon tea with your family? Whatever you do, it is a moment to remember. 


  1. That is so much fun! I have to do this with my kids. That's such an adorable setup!

  2. Having a relevant theme is best way to throw a perfect afternoon tea party. Love your set up for the coronation.

  3. As a tea lover myself, I found the tips and ideas you shared to be very helpful and inspiring. It's always nice to have a fun and elegant way to gather with friends and family. Y

  4. We had afternoon tea whilst watching the Coronation, it was nice to eat different food.

  5. This is us while watching the coronation, this is awesome! I love afternoon tea.

  6. Afternoon tea is really one of my favorite meals. I would like to throw my own one day!


  7. I haven't attended a tea party in years. Sounds like a nice way to make your guests feel special.

  8. Oh my goodness what a precious setup! It looks like you had a fantastic time celebrating the coronation! Tea parties are always so much fun.

  9. It looks amazing! I can't wait to try your recipe at my next tea party!