How to Build Your Tea Party Pantry


So you’re convinced. You’ve read “The Top Seven Mistakes Tea Drinkers Make“. You want to begin brewing looseleaf tea and develop your first real tea party menu.  But where do you start?

My article, “The Secret to the Simple and Quick Tea Party” talks about the first ten items I recommend purchasing in order to have what you need for a simple tea party for four.

This article will give you the list of my favorite tea party food items to have on hand.

For more specific information on planning a full tea menu, click on my “Tea Party Food” category link on my sidebar. These items are great for the impromptu party menu or those who prefer minimal food preparation on a limited food budget.



  1. Boxed red pepper soup–easily garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche, some chopped candied nuts, and sprinkled chives.
  2. Candied nuts–to garnish a soup, salad, or both.
  3. Bite-sized frozen quiches and or Spiral Tea Sandwiches (also in cooler section)
  4. Cream cheese and bread–the staple of tea sandwiches. Add thinly-sliced cucumbers, chopped herbs, sun-dried tomatoes, apple butter, or whatever you have available. Cut off the crusts and into triangles or rectangles and garnish if possible for quick and simple tea sandwiches.
  5. Frozen scones–My favorite local brand are Fat Cat Scones. Research what might be available in your area. Many scones mixes are available, like Cupboard of Blessings, as well. The best way is to prepare from scratch and cut scones at your leisure, freeze them, and then pop them straight into the oven when needed.
  6. Creme Fraiche and Lemon CurdTrader Joe’s provides both. These are my favorite and quick accompaniments for scones.
  7. Chocolate Truffles --if you don’t bake and 90% of women I know want something with chocolate. I’ve seen boxes of simple chocolate truffles at Trader Joe’s and Costco. Place them in paper candy cups (I collect them throughout the year based on the season) or on tiny paper doilies.
  8. Store bought Pound Cake
  9. Canned berry or cherry pie filling – My preference for garnishing pound cake quickly. If you have creme fraiche left over, whipped cream or vanilla ice cram, add them as well.
  10. Tea – Remember, this is The Tea Party’s Most Important Ingredient! Learn to brew tea the old-fashioned way and wow yourself and your guests.

These aren’t your only options, of course. Enjoy browsing your local or online gourmet grocery store for more ideas of quick and simple tea party food ideas.

Remember, food is only as good as the ingredients you put into it and less is more. Tea parties are the time to provide a few bites that taste fabulous instead of stuffing your guests with food that is just different forms of white sugar and flour.

Enjoy imagining your tea party pantry and what you want to have easily available for a little-touch-of-something for yourself or others.

Are You a Realistic Hostess?

tea party hostess


by Jenny Wells


You’ve been asked to host an event in your home. Maybe it’s a girl’s night out, direct sales party, or bridal shower. “We’ll take care of everything,” you’re told. “We just need a place.” And you think, “Great! I can do that. It should be a breeze.”

I have a question for you, Readers. Do you think this is realistic?

One of the reasons I have been unable to post to Tea Party Girl as often over the last few weeks is because I attended and helped host a number of events in real life. Each involved group efforts and I found myself asking this question off and on. Here’s my top three observations and it would be great to hear some of your perspectives in the comments below.

  • If you are hosting the event in your home people will use your bathroom, ask for your ice, and be afraid of your dog. In other words, there’s a certain level of prep, availability and clean-up that will be required of you. Unless you’ve hired a professional caterer, it is unrealistic to think that whomever is coming into your home to put on the event will remember everything and need nothing.
  • Because it is your home, you help set the tone. For various reasons, I assisted at two events in a row where at the beginning, everyone bunched together in a passageway and awkwardly stood around. It would have been a great help for the homeowner to direct people where to sit, turned on some music or even helped with quick glasses of ice water.
  • Someone has to be in the kitchen. Think of your warmest memories of events/gatherings that have taken place in homes. Whether it’s with friends or family, most likely someone spent a chunk of time in the kitchen. And they were relaxed about it. Maybe they poured you a glass of wine or cup of tea while you chatted with them from the breakfast bar. Usually the best home gatherings take place when the hostess is at ease sharing her role in the kitchen with others and conversations can happen while the food prep is taking place. If you are hosting an event in your home ask yourself how you can utilize your home’s center and heartbeat, the kitchen. If the kitchen is not a place you like to be, is it realistic to host events in your home?

Last Friday evening, my family and I experienced a home gathering that provided real refreshment for the guests. It was casual. People arrived at different times. Some were family, some were friends. The ages ranged from six-over sixty. Wine flowed, laughter erupted, and guests put their feet up. The kids swam and played basketball and hide-and-go-seek. Our hostess spent time in the kitchen making enchiladas and dishing up homemade ice cream. She seemed at ease with my husband constructing a huge salad for us all and her father’s wife making margaritas while her brother and I hung out in the kitchen discovering mutual friends and a fondness for classic literature. She even found time to sit and laugh with us on occasion.

But when all was said and done, she was the one who gathered up the abandoned drinks, discovered the muddy footprints in her guest bath from the numerous children, and swept under the table where we ate. I am guessing she and her husband didn’t calculate the financial cost, but willingly gave it. How I long to be a hostess like this to others.

So what do you think? What takes a home-based event from good to great? How much hinges on the hostess? Are you a realistic hostess?

Why Place Cards at the Tea Party Are Important

Teatime Placecards

There is a time and a place for every effort under the sun.  At times, place cards will be appropriate on your tea table.   With place cards you can:

  1. Relieve your guests from the guess-work of where to sit.
  2. Give your event a friendly but dressy and prepared-for feel.
  3. Show your thoughtfulness as a hostess, choosing the best for your guests based on previous relationships, personalities, and the possibility of new friendships.

Your place cards can be simply made with your printer or own beautiful handwriting and some pretty paper, as illustrated in the picture above. Yet creative, theme-based place card holders can add a whimsical touch to your event. They can also double as the party favors. Here are some examples of my favorites:


Intimate is never more than eight, so try to keep your sit-down event to 4-8 seated guests per table.


A Little Place Card History

Have you ever seen a place tile?   These free standing ceramic tiles arrive in a set of 6 tiles in a beautiful blue box. These elegant tiles can be used as name plates for seating around your holiday table…or to identify items on your buffet…or wines at your wine tasting.  Children love to use the dry erase marker to write the names and then erase and change the names.   These beautiful and unique place cards last for generations to come!

Here is a bit of interesting info on the place card (place tile) history:

Virginia Robinson, a 1920′s socialite was often called “The First Lady of Beverly Hills”.  She hired a Tiffany’s craftsman to create for her a personalized porcelain place card.  Although common in Europe, this was the first of its kind in America.  This place card was delicately marked by a single hand painted rose along with Virginia Robinson’s signature in raised gold.

According to source, Virginia used it every night for dinner at home and at every gala, event or dinner party she attended.  To accept any of her many invitations, Virginia’s butler would hand deliver her place card as proof of her acceptance and to secure her place at the dining table.

This  place card graces the pages of our history books and can still be viewed at the Robinson home on the National Historic Register tour in Beverly Hills.


Source:  Modern Antiques for the Table:  A Guide to Tabletop Accessories of 1890-1940   by Sheila Chefetz, Risa Palazzo


The Guide to Planning a Tea Party–Spring Edition


by Jenny Wells

To begin planning your tea party event, no matter what the season or event you need start by answering a few questions:

  1. How many people will you invite?
  2. Who will they be?
  3. What is your budget? How much does that give you per person?
  4. When will your event take place?
  5. What will be your theme? Some ideas for your spring event are available through my post,



Once you make these decisions, you need to send out your invitations. These can be done a number of ways. Remember, keep your budget in mind. I’ve listed some options below.


  1. E-vites (free)
  2. Snail-Mail Invitations with
    1. spring-themed papers and your computer
    2. preprinted Hallmark invitations you pick up at your local store and handwrite.
    3. handmade, scrap-booking materials
  3. Telephone Calls (personal, but take up your time. depending on the number of people you are trying to coordinate).


Next, you need to plan the menu. Remember to keep your budget, theme, and time of day in mind. And DON’T forget to plan the tea. I’ve written a thorough article on The Steps to Creating a Tea Party Menu to help with your planning. Specific ways to incorporate flavors of spring in the traditional tea menu are with:

Tea flavors I suggest to serve at an spring-themed event, depending on your menu, are:


Once you’ve decided on your menu, think through how you will set your table. I’ve written some about setting the tea table already. Now is the time to think through what you already own, what you need to purchase, and what you can borrow. How many tables and chairs will you need? Remember, intimate is never more than eight, so take that into account when you think through your seating arrangement. What will be your centerpiece(s) and how you will incorporate your theme?


Include items in your table decorations that remind you of the season’s color and new beginnings. Start with what you can use from outside. Flowering branches are beautiful and inexpensive. Find a friend who would let you clip flowers from her garden, like daffodils or if it’s later in the season, roses. Purchase small pots of blooming bulbs like hyacinth or tulips. Remember to keep your centerpieces low enough so your guests can see one another.


Part of setting your table means polishing any silver pieces and ironing any linens. Will you include a printed menu for your guests benefit? This is also the time to make/purchase some place-cards and decide what you want to give as a favor.

Take time now to decide what to wear and what music to play. How can these two elements add to your theme? This is the time of year to pull out the pastel-colors in your closet. Pick a color to wear by your face that is not a neutral; stay away from beige, black, and browns. If you own a lot of those colors, wear them on your bottom half. Some ideas for spring-themed music are:


Once these decisions are made, you will see your theme come together with all the elements that help us celebrate spring’s beauty. Be sure to spend some more time perusing Tea Party Girl’s archives for further details you might need to plan your tea party event. As always, feel free to email me or leave a comment with your questions as well.


Another great article with fun ideas:


Tea Party Girl Asks: Are you planning a spring-related tea event? Have you hosted one? Please share your experience/plan with us in the comments.

How to Serve Afternoon Tea at the Drop of a Hat



Your friend just called and will be by in a half an hour.  She needs to talk.  You need to listen.  Is now a good time for a tea party?  Absolutely!  If you follow these simple steps.


Afternoon tea does not need to be only for special occasions. You don’t always have to dress up. Yes, it’s more work than serving chips and soda, but with a little practice and some key items on hand, you can be prepared to serve afternoon tea easily and quickly, as I did this afternoon.


I assembled the above table in about twenty minutes. It’s important to note I have a designated corner of my home that is mostly clutter-free and ready to go. Do you have one? Here’s what I did in order:

  1. Preheated the oven and popped in some pre-made scones straight from the freezer.
  2. Filled my teakettle with filtered water and set it on high to boil.
  3. Chose the tea I wanted to serve (Mim Darjeeling) and filled my tea sac with it.
  4. Set the table with two teacups and spoons, tea plates, already ironed tea-sized cloth napkins, and a filled milk and sugar set. All these items live in my kitchen cupboards so I can easily grab them.
  5. I picked out my teapot. Since I wanted the matching warmer, I decided on the smaller pot and filled the red carafe you see in the picture with more brew. Since this was casual, I just refilled the teapot with the tea from the carafe when we ran out. Kept our brew nice and hot!
  6. I pulled the scones out of the oven, placed four on a salad-size plate, remembered I had a few pieces of toffee stashed away and added them, and cut up one beautiful in-season red pear. I quickly bathed the slices in a little lemon water so they wouldn’t turn brown and added the plate of goodies to the table.

That’s it!

What didn’t I do? I didn’t scurry around trying to figure out what to make.  I knew I had prepared my tea party pantry before hand and I reached for scones from my freezer.  Prepare before hand and a drop in tea party is no problem!

For more information about serving afternoon tea quickly, be sure to see my article, How to Build Your Tea Party Pantry.

What do you do?  Share your hints in the comment area!