Food & Wine Photo Credit: Janis Nicolay. Styling by Lawren Moneta

The Return of the Tea Party

What better way to celebrate Mother's Day than a pretty and perfect high tea?

Don’t think of high tea as a stuffy, proper affair. It’s become a perfect casual mid-afternoon gathering, an easier (and more memorable) alternative to the classic cocktail party—and a simpler option if you don’t want to commit to a sit-down meal.

tea party
When arranging your nibbles, mismatched serving dishes work best with a variety of heights, so pull out your cake stands, tiered trays and fancy plates. White gloves are optional.

A traditional high tea includes sweet (wee tarts, cakes and cookies), savoury (think finger sandwiches and petite quiches) and scones, all arranged on a tiered serving tray with jam and clotted cream. But you’re not limited to one of each, and if you think small, anything goes. There’s no requirement to serve egg salad with watercress or cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off (though they’re lovely); instead, try bite-sized sausage rolls, sliders, thick curries served in toast cups, spanakopita triangles or cold cubed frittata. Any type of pie can be made into tarts by cutting rounds of pastry and pressing them into mini muffin cups to bake and fill (or fill and bake), or make small panna cotta or crème brûlée in Chinese soup spoons.

tea party for kids
Mix up a pitcher of real iced tea for the kids: steep caffeine-free tea and sweeten with honey, then add lemon and orange slices or fresh berries and chill.
how to decorate for a tea party
Set out small plates, napkins and simple flower arrangements, such as single blooms of hydrangeas or peonies, snipped and set in jam jars or extra tea cups.

The key is to make it a mini celebration—the dishes don’t need to be complicated, just tiny and pretty.

Tea Party Recipe Ideas

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