You Don’t Have to be a Perfectionist to have a Perfect Tea Party

Jan 12, 2013 by


tea party hostess

by Jenny Wells

I’m sure this problem of perfectionism does not affect all my readers, but statistically it applies to many of us. Perfectionism when planning a party is draining, indeed. Even without perfectionism, it still takes me four “days” (those are multiple children in the house days) to host an event in my home.

  • One day to clean
  • One day to cook/bake
  • One day to host my tea event
  • One day to clean-up and put everything away

Now a perfectionist, as I was in my former life before children, would clean the whole house. I make sure my front door/porch and the downstairs half-bath is clean. Don’t get me wrong, I still sweep up, wipe down, take the trash out, etc. But I only CLEAN the above mentioned.

A perfectionist would make all food from scratch, take hours preparing it, or spend more than they should with a caterer. As a reformed perfectionist, I delegate to my husband who enjoys being in the kitchen, and my best tea buddy who likes to bake. If I didn’t have them, I would pick one or two great foods already prepared and supplement with items that don’t require a long time in the kitchen.



Hosting USED to wipe me out mainly because of my perfectionism in the above two areas. Now I make sure I have time before my party to relax and I keep a focused but relaxed agenda for the actual event. No one wants to be driven by their hostess’ agenda of the way the event should go. I’ve worked hard to “let it go” and allow my guests to enjoy one another without a lot of interference. This has a lot to do with internal work on my part and experience. I also try really hard to have nothing I HAVE to do the last hour before my event except fill water glasses, light candles, remove things from the fridge, etc.

As for cleaning up, I DO recommend putting away all food, filling one’s dishwasher, and clearing tables as much as possible as soon as an event is over. DON’T SIT DOWN! But I give myself twenty-four hours to put everything away, like the things I store only for events like these.

How have you, reformed perfectionists, learned to manage hostess-stress? My area of weakness involves continuing to feed my family during those few days surrounding an event. My kitchen is already such a mess and I’m working to keep on top of it and kids want five meals a day. Any suggestions?



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  1. Honestly, I’m surprised it takes you only 4 days. But then again, I am a perfectionist. I like everything “just so”, though I’m not so much a neat freak as I am a “details” person. Even for just a simple 2 hour get-together, I will spend weeks planning the menu, favors, table settings, decorations and invitations. For our annual Halloween Party, we plan for it all year, and start getting things ready starting in July (yes, July).

    I didn’t used to spend so much time planning, but you asked how we manage hostess stress, and that is how I do it. I start early, and give myself plenty of time for “life” to interfere but still not throw me off track. I like to take my time…when I do that, I can have my “perfect details” and still not feel the stress that goes with more rushed work. And starting early is the only way I can get to that point you mentioned right before the party, when you have nothing left to do but light candles and set out prepared items…the point at which I know it’s going to be a great party.

    I don’t clean up right after though – I used to try, and frankly, that just stressed me out. I put leftover food away, but even if we just have my parents over for dinner, the table is left until the next day, so I can tackle it after a good long rest. I give myself a few days after to get everything put up…like I said, I’m not a neat freak, and I’d rather take my time with cleaning up than stress out over it.

    Those are my “secrets” – plan early, and leave the clean up until after I’m rested. 🙂

  2. One other thing – you mentioned meals. When I’m prepping foods for a party, baked goods or otherwise, we eat what I’m making. If I’m making muffins or appetizers, I make extras of those for whatever meal is closest. Obviously that won’t work if your menu is cookies for an open house, but if you’re making soup, chili, salads, or sandwiches, all of those can be made in extra quantities to feed your household while you’re making them. That doesn’t solve the problem completely of course, but it does help.

  3. Again, Jamie, great perspectives. I need to hear more about this Halloween party! It’s great that you know what helps you with hostess-stress because sometimes I think we hesitate to plan anything because of the work involved.

    FYI~I don’t do my planning in those four days and hopefully, the errands are done before the four days, too.

  4. jes

    hahahahaha! I am truly giggling at this post! Not only do I wish I could be sitting right there at that table, I want to wear a party hat too!!

    Yesterday I had a blogging friend over to teach her some jewelry techniques. I have a busy schedule, and though I TRIED to give the house a quick cleaning before she came, I just had to tell myself to LET IT GO and let’s just have some fun. Her and I BOTH admited that 5 years ago we would have tried to do something like this Martha Stewart style. We both agreed that the fun of the whole thing is what’s more important these days!


  5. The Halloween party is our “big bash” of the year – it’s my hubby’s favorite holiday, so when we got married, we “took over” the yearly Halloween party in our group of friends. It would take me an insane amount of time to tell you about it, since it is highly overdone and over-thought, but we do enjoy the whole thing.

    I’m thinking of chronicling the makings of the party on my personal blog this year, so if you’re interested, I’ll direct you there. I’ll be working on invitations soon – we always do invitations that match the theme for the year.

    I’ll warn you though, not much of the Halloween party ties into tea, aside from the cups we drink in the wee hours of the morning- after consuming too much alcohol when most of the guests have left. 😉

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