We had the cousins over for a casual tea party last weekend and had so much fun. Tea parties really are the best, but I think many people don’t have them because they seem like a lot of work. So, I thought I’d highlight how easy it is to throw together a low budget tea party that doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.
One of the keys to being able to quickly throw together a tea party is to have a tea service on hand. Everything that we use for our tea parties was purchased last year at TJ Maxx and it’s a hodgepodge collection of items that weren’t designed to go together, but which work perfectly for our purposes. The key is to have some common element that ties everything together and in our case that means a focus on white pieces with gold accents. I also use blank white dishes that come in handy no matter what meal we’re enjoying. Most of the pieces were about $5 (although I think the tea pot itself might have been $15) and the good news is that it’s pretty easy to find white and gold pieces year-round so it’s not a big deal to replace a cup if it gets cracked. The white tablecloth is also from TJ Maxx and it’s a simple cotton one that washes easily.
If you’re nervous about little hands using glass tea cups, you can sub in plastic mugs, but you’d be surprised at how early and how gently most kids can use a proper tea service. Of course, that depends on the kid. Eva has been using one forever, but Calvin is still using a Disneyland mug because he can’t quite master not slamming the cup back into the saucer.
As for the menu, most of the things we ate at this tea party were either ready-made (fresh fruit and circus cookies) or easy to make from mixes (sugar cookies and blueberry muffins).
Both the mini-muffins and the sugar cookies were baked in a mini-muffin pan using Betty Crocker mixes. I love their mixes because they’re safe for Eva’s allergies and they don’t require a lot of effort. I would recommend doing the muffins first, popping them out to cool, and adding a dollop of sugar cookie dough straight into the hot pan before baking. The result are little muffin-shaped cookies that are small and perfect for tea time.
Small is key for tea parties. Full-size muffins aren’t nearly as enjoyable to nibble on as bite-sized ones are.
Small is great for fruit as well. When I’m feeling fancy, I stuff strawberries with fresh whipped cream made with extra powdered sugar so it’s stiff. For our casual tea party, though, I went with whole strawberries that had whipped cream from the can sprayed right on top. We also served champagne grapes with some cubed cheese. The kids love champagne grapes because of the tininess and I love that they don’t fill up on grapes, which can be kind of acidic for their little tummies.
I did do a little bit of “cooking”, if you consider spreading soft swiss wedges on Ritz crackers and topping them with cucumber cooking. I sliced the cucumber thick and then used a cookie cutter to make stars so they’d be more inviting for the kids. You can salt the cucumber a little if you’d like, but I personally think the crackers and cheese are salty enough to make it work.
We also had non-caffeinated rose berry tea, lemon, milk, and sugar on the table. That was the sum of our tea party, but it was plenty and we had a very nice time chatting and relaxing while the kids munched and poured tea for each other. I’m telling you, it’s such a nice way to spend time. Tea time forever!
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