For Mother’s Day this year, I wanted to host an afternoon tea. You probably know by now that I adore afternoon tea, and, frankly, who doesn’t? Tea, cake, cute little sandwiches… what’s not to love?!
But this one wasn’t for me, it was for the important ladies in my life, who just so happen to love afternoon tea, too. For Mother’s Day three years ago, we took them for afternoon tea in a beautiful garden centre and they’ve never stopped talking about it. “Remember that time you took us for afternoon tea?!” they often recall to us. So, I decided it was time to do it again. Only this time, it needed to be a little different. I wanted the original one to remain clear in their minds and not be mimicked or replaced. Or be an ‘almost as nice’ sort of thing.
And then the penny dropped.
With my cup and saucer obsession (I currently have thirteen sets) and a cake stand already at home, we could host it there… Our dining room decor is already pretty vintagey and I can home-make certain food.
So then begun the search for extra cake stands and plates.
In the end, I bought two from Amazon. Another Katie Alice one and a secondhand one, although it arrived fully box and seemingly unopened. Both were pretty reasonably priced, at £22 for both of them, including postage. My current one was already blueish in colour, so I was after ones that fit this colour scheme, as well as the curtains, cushions, table runner and other plates in our dining room being blue.
I dug out the ‘table cloth’ singular lace curtain from the shed, which you may remember us using for the 1940’s Murder Mystery evening in November, and I also used my gorgeous trinket turned sugar pot, bringing a subtle Alice in Wonderland vibe to it. I even wore my Alice in Wonderland Lindy Bop dress.
Placing matching blue napkins, a cake slice server, various flowers in vases and some ditsy floral plates I found for 50p each, out on the table, it was all coming together. I also added some plates with cats on, which I found in a charity shop for £1.5o each. They’re the type people display on the wall, but I liked them as cake display plates and it’s not like anyone would be using cutlery on them, so they stayed immaculate after use. I like putting a bit of a twist on things.
In terms of food, I went for some classic sandwiches to begin with (which I obviously made myself). Smoked salmon and cream cheese, mature cheddar and pickle and then pastrami with tomato, lettuce, cress and relish on a white baguette for something a little different. To finish off the savouries, I added a feta, tomato and spinach tartlet which went down really well. Out of the sandwiches, the smoked salmon went down best. Getting good quality salmon is key.
Now, on to the best part – the sweets! We had to include scones with gorgeous clotted cream and strawberry jam, and I also dotted a few fresh strawberries around the cake stands, too. For cakes, I went with a homemade lemon drizzle, homemade chocolate brownies, rocky road bites, millionaire’s shortbread, the odd cherry bakewell, madeleine and a few chocolates, all gluten free. I couldn’t find gluten free scones anywhere, after checking M&S, Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Aldi, which was a shame! And I didn’t have time to give baking some a go, otherwise I would. I had my own gluten free bread, though.
Copious amounts of tea were drank, but coffee, hot chocolate and carbonated fruit flavoured water was also on offer. We had a wide selection of traditional and fruit teas available. All of these are staple afternoon tea additions, to help wash down the deliciousness.
I even created a menu, to enhance the ‘bringing the tearoom to you’ idea, which they absolutely loved. It’s quirky things like this that really add to the fun. I just made it up on the computer, printed it and then laminated it.
We presented ‘gift vouchers’ to the lucky ladies, in their Mother’s Day cards and then told them they needed to come through to the dining room to cash them in, where they gasped and smiled ear to ear.
The idea of a surprise afternoon tea went down really well, so I’d suggest it if you think someone you know would appreciate it. Mother’s day, birthdays, baby showers, hen do’s etc. it could work in several situations. You could make it boozier with a sparkling afternoon tea, adding prosecco/champagne and strawberries and change up the sandwich and cake options.
I played ‘safe’ pop tunes in the background to create a bit of an atmosphere, but played it on low so it wasn’t overpowering whilst people were chatting. I just pre-made the playlist from my iTunes library.
I also lit a peach scented candle to add to the atmosphere, choosing a fruity scent to tie in with the sweetness of the afternoon tea and make the place feel relaxing and homely.
It worked out much cheaper for us to have afternoon tea at our home (otherwise it’s often around £15 per person at a tearoom), but it also felt more relaxed and personal. It formed part of our present and it was really appreciated. I also had the chance to use appropriate kitchenware that I’d collected and practise some gluten free baking. If you don’t have cake stands or cups and saucers, you can find a lot of pieces in gift shops but also charity shops. Buying cakes and whatnot isn’t very expensive, neither is baking it yourself.
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