1 /// Most tea is too strong for kids, so give them apple juice in a small teapot and leave the tea for yourself. If they really want to have a warm drink, steep a cinnamon stick in hot water for a couple of minutes and then add cold apple juice until the “tea” is a safe temperature to drink.
2 /// Make an investment in sharing a regular tea time and pick up a special cup and saucer for each child (well, each child old enough to handle a glass teacup). Put your child in charge of setting cups at each place setting along with small plates, spoons, and napkins.
3 /// Don’t set out cream and sugar even if it seems like it’s not tea time without them. In my experience, once the cream and sugar are on the table, all anyone wants to drink is a cup of cream containing 9 sugar cubes. If you must, sweeten your tea in the kitchen and then bring it to the table.
4 /// Put music on for your tea time to make it more of an event. I recommend going pretty vintage with your selection: Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, or Glen Miller. If you’d rather listen to kid-focused music, try Elizabeth Mitchell.
5 /// Make a plate of small sandwiches with different fillings. Kids are more likely to be adventurous eaters if they feel like they have a choice, so this is a good time to try something new. We’ve done apples + cheddar, brie + pears, cream cheese + olives, cucumbers + mint, and chicken salad. Be sure to cut the crusts off!
6 /// If you want to get really fancy, use a cookie cutter to create sandwiches in themed shapes. Tip: don’t make the sandwich and then use the cookie cutter because it wastes filling and isn’t as likely to come out as a clean cut. Use the cookie cutter on each slice of bread individually and then fill the sandwiches.
7 /// Any butter-based cookie (like shortbread) is a traditional tea companion, although spied cookies are particularly delicious with that warm apple cinnamon “tea”.
8 /// Come to the table with at least two topics that you might want to discuss with your child (such as what they’d like to do to celebrate an upcoming holiday) but be sure to ask them if there’s anything they would like to talk about before you lead the conversation. This teaches them good manners and they’ll probably surprise you with their ideas!
9 /// When showing them how to pour tea, be sure that they put their hand flat against the teapot lid as they tilt. Teapot lids are notorious for being teacup smashers and that’s no fun for anyone. If a spill happens (it will definitely happen at least once!), let your child retrieve a rag and take care of it by themselves as part of the tea serving process.
10 /// Be sure to thank your child for sharing tea time with you and enlist their help in cleaning up. If their enthusiasm is fading fast, grab a tray (or cookie sheet) from the kitchen and have them at least help you put everything on the tray to clear the table so they can wipe it down.