A Guide To Hosting Your First High Tea

Last Updated on July 27, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Who doesn’t love dressing up and going for high tea? There are many intricacies to a high tea event that you have to take note of to ensure that your guests have a fun and memorable experience. This guide serves to help you host your first high tea event, complete with good quality tea and tasty snacks. Read on to learn more!

An Invitation No One Can Refuse

No party is complete without guests. An invitation is the first part of the experience. Good first impressions matter, an impressive invitation has to convince your guests to RSVP. 

No invitation sets the mood better than a handwritten card, complete with a wax-sealed envelope. Who can say no to a neatly calligraphed letter? They create an atmosphere of elegance that the invitees can expect from the event.

Letter writing, however, is as time-consuming as it is luxurious. To those that do not have the time to individually craft invites and send them out, E-invites are an excellent alternative. Creating one has never been easier in this digital era,  many websites provide access to a plethora of templates with customizable options too!

Scene Setting

When planning a high tea event, one of the first things you have to consider is the theme. Based on that, you can figure out the other technicalities and specifics of the event. It’s not easy choosing a good theme; not only does it have to be interesting, but you will also have to take into account the location of the party, the occasion, and the budget too

The Decorations

The color palette stands to be one of the most important decisions in decor. Setting the mood and foundation for the rest of the decorative features, the color palette is something that many people tend to overlook. Soft pastel shades are a classic feature of high tea parties, but modern times call for a wider variety of colors according to the occasion. With the color palette of choice decided upon, the other details of the decor can be looked at.


Buntings are decorative flags and banners made from loosely woven fabric. They can help to create an atmosphere of celebration and festivity.


Flowers as decor are as versatile as they come. They can be used to provide scent or color, and even convey meaning. 

Additional Extras

Imagination is the limit when it comes to decor. Any number of decorations that suit the theme can be used to further adorn the event. Simplicity is key — going overboard will pull the focus away from the table and its treats.

setting table in high tea

Setting The Table

The crown jewel of any high tea event is without a doubt, the table. Hence, dressing the table with the appropriate accessories is of utmost importance.

The Table Cloth

The table cloth, a simple yet underrated piece of accessory — a blank canvas waiting to be painted. While tradition calls for a clean white sheet of cloth, a modern take might see more color and texture to suit the occasion and theme.


If you’re looking to add a feeling of nostalgia to the table, doilies are the perfect ornament. These doilies can be used as centerpieces of the table or even as placemats for cups and small plates.

Cake Stand

The highlight of any high tea event is the cake stand. Depending on the treats you wish to present at the table, there are two main categories of cake stands available. 

A singular cake stand will most likely serve to display a whole cake as a centerpiece. On the contrary, a tiered stand can hold numerous treats; with savory delicacies at the bottom, followed by scones, jam, and cream in the middle. Lastly, cookies and teacakes will sit at the top. Regardless, the cake stands act to highlight and display the food available.


Delicate teaware adorned with beautiful floral prints are a must-have at high tea events. It is important for your fine china to match — the teapots, teacups, saucers, and plates have to complement each other. Fine china sets from numerous brands are readily available and save us the hassle of ensuring complementary tableware. If you are feeling bougie, many high-end modern fashion brands have started their own line of tableware with a twist!

Thrifting your fine china is a more affordable option if you are going for a unique vintage look, which many would appreciate. They may not be from the same line, but getting mismatched sets can add a quirky and rustic charm to your set-up.  You can easily find some fine china at local thrift or charity store.

On the contrary, perhaps owning a set of fine china for a one-of event may not be your cup of tea. Not to worry though as numerous outlets rent out readily available sets. With a variety of sets to choose from, surely, the perfect one will be available for your occasion. 

high tea menu

High Tea Menu 

With the table prepped, it is now ready to be filled with treats and delicacies. A multitude of treats can be offered at high tea, but listed below are some of the classic favorites.


Light and crumbly, yet not too dry, scones are a go-to treat when it comes to high tea. To get the best out of this fairly simple treat, we recommend pairing them with jam and cream to add more flavor. For those out there who are more venturous, homemade scones and even jams can add variety and depth to the flavors.


Don’t forget to make some yummy sandwiches! Savory and simple to prepare, sandwiches are a must at any high tea event.

Traditionally, sandwiches are prepared using two pieces of sliced white bread. However, artisanal loaves such as rye and sourdough can be used for more modern interpretations of these classic sandwich recipes.


Want something to satisfy your sweet tooth? Cakes are versatile enough to be used as either the centerpiece on a singular cake stand or as bite-sized treats on a tiered cake stand. No high tea event is complete without some cake in the mix.


What is high tea?

High tea is a meal where you eat high-quality light food – the best of your sandwiches, scones, and sweets. You can use it as an excuse to have some friends over at home or to go out with your family for a nice evening treat.

Who can host a high tea?

Anyone! Hosting a big high tea with a group of friends is a great idea if you’re studying abroad and want to have a memorable evening with your best mates. Hosting a high tea for your parents is a great way to show them how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you, especially after finals. Or embrace the glamorous side of yourself by hosting an elegant high tea with your sisters. There is no limit to who can be involved!

What is the first thing to eat at a high tea?

The first foods to eat at a high tea are usually tea sandwiches. You can cut up some ham and cucumber or roast beef with mustard and have a really nice time with your friends.

What are good high tea snacks?

A lot of people think that the only thing you can serve at a high tea is finger sandwiches, but there’s so much more out there! Why not try some cucumber-dill tartines or some chocolate-covered strawberries?

How do you make a scone?

Scones are a traditional baked good that is typically served at high teas. To make a simple scone, mix together some flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Then add in butter that’s been cut into pieces and buttermilk. Combine the ingredients well, then place them on a baking tray covered in parchment paper. Bake at 425 F for about 8 minutes and serve with jam and cream.

What do you serve first at a tea party?

The first thing people usually serve at a tea party is the scones and jam, but it’s also possible to make some delicious chocolate fondue.

What do you serve with afternoon tea?

Typically if you’re hosting an English high tea, you would serve cakes, pastries, and crackers along with your sandwiches. If it’s a tea party where you’re inviting your friends, you can have a big bowl of popcorn to munch on as well!

What to do at high tea?

Some fun activities for high tea include playing board games, dressing up in formal clothes, and gossiping about everyone who didn’t come. In the case that you don’t want to talk to everyone about their absence, you can also try playing Victorian parlor games like Pictionary and charades!

What is high tea dress code?

For a traditional English high tea, guests would wear formal clothes of the Victorian style. This typically includes long dresses for women and three-piece suits or ties for men. In today’s modern times, you can wear whatever you please as long as it looks nice!


High tea is as versatile as it can get — perfect for any celebratory occasion, plus, it is not too hard to organize either. If you take note of the important details mentioned in the guide above, we are sure that you will be capable of hosting a session that will impress your guests. Explore the different options available with decor and menu and create a high tea event that people will enjoy!