Thursday, September 8, 2016

How to Set the Table for a Tea Party

My daughter isn’t old enough to be trusted with a tea cup (full or empty), but I love the idea of a tea-party themed birthday party for an older girl. In fact, my niece, who just started third grade, recently had one with her friends—and I thought it was the perfect, frilly way to let little girls feel grown-up. And really, does anyone really need an excuse to sip on tea and eat dainty pastries? 

Mix & Match Your Dishes

It’s no biggie if you don’t have a full set of girly-looking dishes—you can mix and match, like I did. I chose my favorite vintage plates—Hazel Atlas Pink Crinoline—for their wavy edges and pretty pink detailing, and paired them with gold chargers (an Aldi score!) and a floral sugar bowl that a family member passed down to me. A mix of new, vintage, and antique is totally fine—as long as they all have delicate features to tie them together.

Think Outside the Tea Cup

I don’t happen to have half a dozen tea cups sitting around—but I do have a set of clear glass mugs from the 1950s with cute handles. If you don’t have something similar, check out your local thrift store, and you’ll undoubtedly find mismatched tea cups (the more patterns, the better!) or a set of mini mugs like mine. (You can also find teapots at thrift shops; in fact, I just snagged a vintage Tiffany & Co. teapot for $10 the other day.)

Go Wild with Flowers

For a girly party, you can never have enough flowers, which is why I assembled two arrangements for the table. Hint: If you want to reuse your flowers, try my trick: Buy high-quality silk stems, then mingle in a few real sprigs of baby’s breath. Trust me, no one will know the difference (unless a partygoer leans in to take a whiff, which has happened to me!). In keeping with the party’s theme, I used an antique tea kettle as a vase.

Decorate with Napkins

Napkin rings are nice, but I prefer to use pretty cloth napkins to accent my plates. I have a set of vintage napkins with pink embroidery along the edges, which I folded into triangles and placed under the tea plates. This keeps your table looking tidy, while also adding visual interest. 

Play with Metals

Gone are the days of one metal per room, so feel free to add some bling to your table with a mix of shiny stuff. For example, I used a sterling silver tea kettle, brushed gold silverware (from One Kings Lane), and a bronze tray for the sugar cup. This approach adds visual variety to your table and helps you avoid ripped-straight-from-Pier-1 matchy-matchiness.