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HOW TO HOST A WONDERFUL AFTERNOON TEA PARTY FOR KIDS AND TEENS

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An afternoon tea party is a lovely way to host a birthday celebration at home for kids or teens with a small gathering of guests.

Let me give you some ideas and inspiration to help you make a super fun tea party for kids with delicious food.

TEA PARTIES MAKE GREAT BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS FOR KIDS

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How to host an afternoon tea party for kids and teens

Tea parties for kids are having a resurgence in popularity as a fun, retro way to celebrate a special occasion like a birthday.

I recently hosted an afternoon tea party for my daughter’s 13th birthday and it reminded me what a lovely way they are to celebrate.

The wonderful thing about hosting an afternoon tea party is that it can work for kids of any age, from babies and toddlers with their parents alongside them to tweens and teens.

Tea parties work particularly well with tweens and younger teens because it feels very grown-up to sit down for afternoon tea. 

Afternoon tea parties are a lovely idea for an at-home party and work equally well indoors or outdoors (weather dependent!). 

You can make a tea party as simple or as fancy as you want. You can go all out with decorations, making or buying fancy food and laying on an array of entertainment and activities, or you can keep it low-key and emphasise just having fun and enjoying each other’s company.

Here are some lovely ideas to incorporate into your afternoon tea party. 

Homemade birthday cake for 13th birthday tea party

KIDS TEA PARTY IDEAS AND INSPIRATION 

PARTY FOOD AND DRINK: THE HEART OF A TEA PARTY

Clearly, food and drink are the beating heart of the tea party. When planning the afternoon tea menu for your tea party, it’s important to consider what food types will appeal to children.

One of the keys to keeping things fun and manageable is to stick to serving finger foods, individual portions that can be easily picked up and eaten without the need for cutlery (or help for younger kids). 

Here are some ideas for the main types of food that you can serve at an afternoon tea party for kids:

FINGER SANDWICHES

Finger sandwiches are a classic tea party food and can be made with various fillings. For example, cucumber, cheese and cucumber, cheese and ham, egg mayonnaise, and peanut butter and jelly.

Make sandwiches look fancy by slicing off the crusts and serving them in fingers or triangles. To make younger kids smile, you can use cookie cutters to create fun shapes such as stars, hearts, or animals.

You can also top the sandwiches with sprinkles or edible glitter for an extra festive look. 

MINI QUICHES OR PINWHEEL SANDWICHES

Mini quiches are a great option for kids who don’t like sandwiches, as are pinwheel sandwiches made from wraps. 

SAUSAGE ROLLS

Sausage rolls – meat or vegetarian – are an absolute retro party classic. Luckily there are some delicious takes on sausage rolls that take them away from being a boring beige food. 

 Mini hotdogs make a good alternative to sausage rolls. 

CLASSIC PARTY SNACKS

Hula Hoops, peanuts (always check for allergies), cheese puffs, prawn cocktail crisps (potato chips), and Twiglets served in little grazing bowls work really well. 

SCONES

Scones are always popular at an afternoon tea party and can be served with jam and cream. They are super easy to make.

The only debate if you are in the UK is whether the jam goes on before the cream or the cream goes on before the jam. 

COOKIES

Chocolate chip cookies are always popular with little kids, and Oreos never fail to bring a smile. If you are planning on baking cookies, consider using shaped cookie cutters that fit with the theme of the tea party.

TEA CAKES 

Tea cakes are the star of any tea party. Whether you make them yourself or buy them, go for small cakes, bite-size or slightly bigger.

Mini brownies are the perfect size for little hands and can be decorated with sprinkles to make them even more appealing.

If you’re buying cakes, I think a French Fondant Fancy is the ultimate afternoon tea party cake for kids; it is decorative and naughtily delicious

MACARONS

Macarons come in many beautiful colours and help create an upscale tea party vibe. They work particularly well on a cake stand as a centrepiece for the table. 

COLOURFUL CANDY

Small bowls of colourful candy/sweets are a wonderful way of making the party food look fun and appealing. Great candy/sweets to include are Jelly Tots, M&Ms, and Skittles.

CHOCOLATE FONDUE OR CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN

Melted chocolate is a winner for kids of most ages. So add an interactive element to afternoon tea by providing a chocolate fondue or chocolate fountain with marshmallows and fruit to dip.

FRESH FRUIT

Healthy doesn’t have to be boring if you do it right. Make fruit skewers for a rainbow of colours, or serve chopped fruit in grazing bowls scattered around the table. 

JELLY AND ICE-CREAM

Jelly and ice cream is an absolute retro classic from UK kid’s parties of yesteryear. Why not bring it crashing into the roaring 20s by using Ben & Jerry’s alongside fruit-flavoured jelly? 

DITCH THE TEA

I might be wrong, but most kids I know don’t actually drink tea. So, what to serve as drinks?

Well, bubble tea is hugely popular at the moment. Hot chocolate (with all the extras) is great for winter tea parties, and pink lemonade or soda served in small bottles makes a tea party table look lovely. 

Table set for an afternoon tea party with vintage plates

HOW TO STYLE A TABLE FOR AN AFTERNOON TEA PARTY FOR KIDS

The possibilities are endless when it comes to styling a table for an afternoon tea party for kids.

Whether you’re hosting a birthday party or having your kid’s friends over for another special occasion, setting the perfect table can make all the difference.

Here are some tips on how to style a table for an afternoon tea party for kids:

TABLE CENTREPIECE

The absolute classic centrepiece for any afternoon tea party has to be a cake stand brimming with delicious cakes and sweet treats. 

You can buy disposable cake stands in a variety of themes.

Or you can do what I did for my daughter’s 13th birthday afternoon tea party and buy a vintage-style cake stand made from vintage china plates. I found it on Etsy, it wasn’t expensive, and we will use it time and again. 

If you don’t want to go down the cake stand route, a vase of seasonal flowers works well for teens or make a birthday cake the central focus. 

Another idea is to create a snack charcuterie board and have this as the centrepiece for the table. Snack boards recently blew up on TikTok and are hugely popular with tweens and teens. 

PLATES AND CUPS

Choose colourful plates and cups that fit the party’s colour scheme. You can go down the disposable route; some beautiful sets are available.

Or find some vintage plates to buy. I had success finding a set of gorgeous 1920s floral afternoon tea plates on Etsy through Happy Hyacinth Vintage (UK based), the same seller I bought the cake stand through. 

DOILIES 

Doilies are an absolute classic afternoon tea table stalwart. I found some classic white doilies, which I used under each place setting on the table. These are the doilies I used.

You could use placemats as an alternative to doilies. 

NAPKINS

It is debatable whether any child, no matter what their age, will actually use a napkin. However, fancy paper napkins do help bring an afternoon tea table to life, especially if you theme them. 

These are the vintage floral napkins I used.

DECORATIONS

Adding decorations to the table is optional, but it’s a nice touch to make the afternoon tea table look fancy. 

There is lots of table confetti to choose from (make sure it is eco-friendly); small vases of flowers work well for older kids, or do what I did and scatter edible flowers over the table and use them to decorate the food. 

You could also tie a balloon to the back of each child’s chair or festoon the chairs with streamers. 

Edible flowers are perfect decorations for an afternoon tea party.

PERFECT GAMES FOR A KIDS’ AFTERNOON TEA PARTY

While the main focus of an afternoon tea party is sitting down to afternoon tea, you might want to include some fun party games to keep the guests entertained. 

Here are some ideas for kids’ games that work well for an afternoon tea party. I think it’s a fun touch to go for old-school classic party games to complement the afternoon tea theme. 

1. Musical Chairs – This classic game is always a hit with kids

2. Charades – Get the kids to act out different characters or objects for the other players to guess.

4. Pass the Parcel – Wrap a gift and have the kids pass it around while music plays. When the music stops, whoever has the parcel gets to keep it! Be sure to include a sweet or tiny treat under each layer for younger kids, so everyone gets something. 

5. What’s the Time, Mr Wolf? – An absolute classic party game or daring and timing!

I’ve got a super popular post on classic party games for kids to give you plenty more inspiration.  

CRAFT ACTIVITIES PERFECT FOR AFTERNOON TEA

If you don’t fancy party games, how about providing the kids with a craft activity instead?

Crafts are a great way to entertain the kids and make the event memorable. Here are some craft ideas that work well for a kids’ afternoon tea party:

1. Decorating cupcakes: Provide a selection of icing, sprinkles, and other decorations and let the kids go wild decorating their own cupcakes. 

2. Making paper hats: Paper hats are a great way to get the kids into the spirit of an afternoon tea party. Provide cardstock or construction paper in different colours, and let the kids make their hats.

3 . Making paper flowers: Paper flowers are a great way to decorate the table, so why not challenge the kids to make the flowers? Provide some colourful paper, scissors, and glue and see what they create. 

4. Making tea cup candles: Teacup candles are a great craft idea for teens. Provide some small teacups (Etsy is a great place to source vintage cups or nip to your local charity/thrift store), wax, and wicks and let the kids make their own tea cup candles.

6. Making paper doilies: Paper doilies are easy for kids to make. Provide some colourful paper, scissors, and glue and let the kids make their own paper doilies.

Afternoon tea party food ideas for kids and teens

AFTERNOON TEA PARTY THEME IDEAS FOR KIDS

Afternoon tea parties don’t need a theme beyond ‘afternoon tea party’. But if you do want to go one step further and create a truly memorable experience, you might like to use one of these themes:

1. Garden Tea Party: Transform your backyard into a garden tea party with lots of flowers, greenery, and outdoor games.

2. Mad Hatter Tea Party: Go all out with a Mad Hatter theme! Decorate the table with top hats and teacups, and serve fun treats like cupcakes topped with mini top hats.

3. Alice in Wonderland Tea Party: Recreate the magical world of Alice in Wonderland with a whimsical tea party. Serve delicious treats like “Eat Me” cupcakes and “Drink Me” punch.

4. Fairy Tea Party: Create a magical fairy tea party with lots of sparkles, glitter, and fairy-themed decorations.

5. Pirate Tea Party: Transform your living room into a pirate ship for the day! Decorate with pirate flags and serve treats like ‘pirate’s booty’ popcorn.

6. Princess Tea Party: Little kids love a princess tea party! Decorate with lots of pink and purple, and serve delicious treats like cupcakes topped with tiaras.

7. Unicorn Tea Party: Create a magical unicorn-themed tea party with lots of sparkles, rainbows, and unicorn decorations. Serve up some yummy treats like rainbow cupcakes and unicorn cookies.

8. Superhero Tea Party: Transform your living room into a superhero hideout for the day! Decorate with superhero decorations and serve yummy treats like ‘superpower’ cupcakes.

8. Teddy Bear Tea Party: Turning an afternoon tea party into a Teddy bear’s afternoon tea party is a lovely idea for younger children. Send an invitation asking them to bring their favourite Teddy or cuddly toy along with them. Or you could give each child a Teddy bear as a party favour to sit with at the tea table.

9. Paddington Bear Tea Party: Go one step further and have a Paddington Bear themed tea party; given his close friendship with Queen Elizabeth, he is the perfect afternoon tea party guest.

Paddington and Queen Elizabeth have afternoon tea

AFTERNOON TEA PARTY THEME IDEAS FOR TEENS

Teens aren’t necessarily going to want to have a Teddy bear’s tea party or come dressed in their favourite Princess or pirate outfit. So here’s a list of themes that are more suited to teen tea parties: 

1. High Tea: Host a traditional high tea with all the classic elements like finger sandwiches, scones, and petit fours. Go for elegance and opulence. 

2. Retro Tea Party: Go back in time with a retro-themed tea party! Decorate with vintage items and serve delicious treats like cupcakes topped with old-fashioned candy.

3. Movie Night Tea Party: Transform your living room into a movie theatre. Serve popcorn and pick-n-mix candy alongside afternoon tea. Ideally, have a shortlist of movies ready in advance. 

4. Spa Tea Party: Let your teen and their friends relax with a spa-themed tea party. Set up a DIY spa station with face masks, manicures, and pedicures.

5. Game Night Tea Party: Host a game night tea party with all the classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble. Serve up some delicious treats like cupcakes topped with game pieces.

7. Music Tea Party: Let your teen and their friends jam out with a music-themed tea party. Make a playlist of their favourite artists or set up a DIY karaoke station and let them sing their favourite songs.

PARTY FAVOURS

Why not round the tea party off by sending each guest home with a wonderful party favour? Here are some lovely ideas for afternoon tea party favours for kids and here’s a list of party favours for teens

1. Teacup of treats: Fill a vintage tea cup or paper tea cup with sweet treats, wrap it in cellophane and tie it with a bow

2. Tea party themed book: Some wonderful kids’ storybooks featured tea parties. Here are a few of the best-loved:

  1. The Tiger Who Came To Tea
  2. Alice in Wonderland
  3. The Tea Party in the Woods
  4. The Tea Dragon Society
  5. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
  6. Mary Poppins Comes Back 

3. Tea Bag of favours: Fill small party bags with afternoon tea-themed goodies like macarons, a vintage tea cup and a slice of birthday cake 

4. Teddy Bears: Give each guest their own teddy bear to take home and cuddle with. Paddington Bear would be particularly apt!

KIDS TEA PARTY VENUES

I think afternoon tea parties are perfect for hosting at home, indoors or outdoors in the garden. However, you may want to add an extra element to your tea party by hosting it at a venue.

Some venues will cater an afternoon tea for you; for others, you will need to haul all the food and drink there, so bear this in mind when deciding where to host the party. 

Here is a quick list of venue ideas

1. Local Park – A local park is a great place to host a tea party for kids. You can set up a picnic blanket and have the kids play games or run around while you serve up some delicious treats.

2. Indoor Playground – An indoor playground is a great venue for a tea party for kids. They can play on the slides, swings, and other fun activities while you serve up some yummy snacks and drinks.

3. Museum – A museum is a great place to host a tea party for kids. You can explore the exhibits and have the kids learn about different cultures while you serve up some delicious treats.

4. Library – A library is a great place to host a tea party for kids. You can read stories together and have the kids explore the books while you serve up some yummy snacks and drinks.

GET SET TO CREATE YOUR OWN AFTERNOON TEA PARTY

Incorporating some of the ideas above will ensure that you are able to host a truly wonderful afternoon tea party that will be fun and memorable.

If you want further inspiration for kids’ afternoon tea party food, hop over to my roundup of some of the most delicious sweet and savoury tea party food recipes and ideas.

If you want further inspiration for kids’ afternoon tea party food, hop over to my roundup of some of the most delicious sweet and savoury tea party food recipes and ideas.