How to set up a table for a tea party

A simple tea party with friends doesn't require strict rules of etiquette, but it's still useful to know how to present the sugar, milk, and other tea options, and to get the right table materials to set it up.

Tea Party

A classy tea party with Asian-style ceramics.


1. Decide what kind of Tea Party you are hosting

Most people hosting a tea party think of an afternoon event that takes place between mealtimes and provides small snacks, such as small sandwiches or scones. If you are hosting a formal evening event, you will likely need several more implements depending on what type of food is served. Either way, be sure to read the steps below carefully so you can determine what is necessary for your tea party.

You can also theme your tea party, either in an era such as a classy Roarin’ Twenties Tea Party that would fit right in at The Great Gatsby, or have a story as your theme such as the Alice and Wonderland’s Mad Hatter tea party.

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Easy set up for a Mad Hatter Tea Party.


2. Time to get the right table for the Tea Party 

The table should be large enough to fit the tea service, tableware, and food. If it is not large enough to also seat the guests, remove the chairs and host a buffet-style tea party where the guests help themselves. This is less formal than a seated tea party, and is most suitable for a light afternoon tea rather than an evening event.

If you use a buffet-style table, use judgement because if space is a concern you can push the table up against the wall. It is important to note though this will mean that the table is not accessible from both sides so there may be some queueing to get their tea!

Have a look at our tables below, which we think could be perfect for your tea-party:

£90.30 £136.50

3. Ensure all the chairs are matching

It would be a crime to have chairs that clash with the table. If you are having a seated tea party, it is essential that the chairs fit in with the table. This does not mean that all your chairs need to be the same shape or even colour, it just means that everything needs to fit your theme.

If your tea party has a Scandanavian style table we think these chairs will match it:

£48.30 £62.30

4. Cover the table with an attractive tablecloth

For a sit-down tea party, the table or tables must be able to seat every guest at once. For most tea parties, the food should all fit in the centre of the table. We would suggest getting a long table cloth, and possibly a table runner to add the final decorative touches.

Tea party table cloth

A vintage floral tablecloth like this can be a cheap option and is a safe bet!


5. Time to layout the cutlery and ceramics

You may only need to provide one or two utensils per guest, depending on what food is served. At minimum, place a small spoon on the right of each plate for stirring tea. If you are serving sticky cakes or messy foods, also provide a small fork on the left of each plate, and one or more knives between the plate and the spoon, with the blades facing the plate. Provide butter knives for each guest when serving jams or other spreads. Note that each spread should still have its own serving spoon.

Tea Party Cutlery and Ceramics

Having cutlery and ceramics that match the color scheme and theme is very important.


6. Set up coffee, hot chocolate, or an additional tea tray on the other end of the table

Unless you have a small number of guests, you may wish to set up two stations for guests to serve themselves hot beverages. Coffee or hot chocolate are appreciated by some guests who do not enjoy tea, but if you know your guests are all tea-drinkers, you may simply provide a variety of tea options instead.

Provide all the necessary tea additions on both ends of the table. If serving coffee, only sugar and milk are necessary at the coffee station.

Hot Chocolate

Not everyone is a tea lover!


7. Use a side table

It is a very good idea to have a side table to hand. That way the table will not get too cluttered, and anything you aren’t using for the time being can be placed there. Our Scandinavian side tables and coffee tables will fulfil your every need.

£27.30 £80.50


You are now ready to host the perfect tea party!



1. What are suitable events to hold a tea party for?

There are many events to hold a tea party for, these include: baby showers, hen nights, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations.

2. What tea should I serve at a tea party?

The best classic black teas to serve inclue: English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Ceylon, Assam, and Lapsang.


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