Hosting a children’s tea party is a fun way to celebrate a special occasion or introduce children to the custom of tea drinking. Make the experience magical for your child by using a theme to plan the event, decorating your space, serving tea and snacks, and playing games.
Select a theme.
Pick something fun that will appeal to the age group you’re throwing the party for. For young girls, a princess theme or fairy theme might appeal to them. For older children, you could throw a more sophisticated Victorian tea party.
Other possible themes are Alice in Wonderland, Strawberry Shortcake, flowers and herbs, or your child’s favorite color.
Make a guest list.
The number of children you invite will depend upon your space. If you have tons of room (and patience) you can invite your child’s entire class. But if you want to stick to a budget and not have to invest in extra chairs or tables, help your child edit the list of invitees to as many people as you can fit around the table.
Another guideline is to use your child’s age as the magic number. So if your child is six, stick to a maximum of about six guests.
Choose a date and time.
Weekend parties held during the day are often easiest for parents and children alike. Choose whether a morning tea party or an afternoon tea party best fits the ages and schedules of the children attending. Avoid 1-3 pm since this tends to be nap time for young kids.
Be sure to include an end time on the invitation so that parents know they need to pick up their child at a specific time.
Make the invitations.
For children, the cuter and more colorful, the better. Make your invitations to match the theme. For example, if you’re modeling your party after the tea party in Alice in Wonderland, you could cut your invitations in the shape of the Mad Hatter’s hat. For a princess party, use an old-looking font and language like “Hear ye! Hear ye!”
Include a note encouraging children to dress up to match the theme, or just wear their fanciest clothes.
Send the invitations.
If you’re mailing your invitations, send them 3-4 weeks in advance. If you’re hand delivering them to the children’s parents or sending out an evite, two weeks is enough time.
Set up the table and chairs.
If the children are old enough to sit at a normal kitchen or dining room table, you can use that. Just be sure it’s large enough to seat everyone you’re inviting. You may need to push a couple tables together if it’s a large group. Rent or buy extra folding chairs if you don’t have enough.
For little kids who aren’t quite tall enough to sit at a standard table, try to find child-sized tables and chairs to make it more enjoyable for them. If you don’t want to purchase one of these sets, you could push several sturdy boxes or crates together and have everyone sit on cushions on the floor.
Dress up the table.
Put a nice tablecloth over the table you’ll be using to serve the tea. Find fun and frilly cake stands or three-tiered dessert stands to display the food on. Give each place setting its own teacup, saucer, cloth napkin, and silver spoon.
If you’re concerned about small children breaking nice china, either purchase these items from a thrift store or find plastic teacups.
Hang decorations around the room.
If it’s a fairy-themed party, hang string lights across the walls and around banisters or bookcases. If it’s a princess-themed party, use large rolls of brown craft paper to create a castle facade on the wall. Top it off with a construction paper dragon or knight.
Place extra teapots around the room and put flowers in them for a garden-themed party.
For an Alice in Wonderland party, hang lots of clocks on the walls and create over-sized playing cards out of construction paper.
Offer plenty of dress-up options.
Buy costume pieces that the children can wear during the party, like feather boas, tiaras, fancy gloves, hats with fascinators, or fairy wings. You can stick to the theme or just be silly with it. You can buy cheap strands of beads at a dollar store and use them as costume jewelry or decorate the table with them.
You could include a couple items at each place setting so children know to put them on when they sit down. Or keep them in a box near the door and have each child pick one as they arrive.
Put a treat bag at each place setting.
If you want to provide party favors, you can keep it simple by wrapping up little cookies in cellophane and tying it with a nice ribbon. Or buy cheap novelty items like plastic teacups, stickers, or giant jeweled rings.
For an Alice in Wonderland party, fill their favor bags with bottles of bubbles, playing cards, or black headbands that look like Alice’s.
For a princess party, send them home with plastic tiaras, fun sunglasses, or little stuffed unicorns.
Provide a variety of beverages.
Be prepared for very small children to not like the taste of tea. Offer a few decaffeinated teas, like a black tea and a fruit tea, but also have some backup options, like lemonade or juice.
If you’re throwing a summertime tea party, serve flavored iced teas like mango or raspberry iced tea.
Make sure any tea you serve isn’t so hot that it will burn the kid’s mouths. Brew it early in the party and then allow it to cool to a safe warm temperature before serving.
Allow your child to serve the guests.
If your child is old enough and confident enough to pour tea, allow them to be the one to serve it after everyone is seated. That way they truly feel like they’re the host of the party. If you’re concerned about splashes or broken dishes, you can pour the tea and then let them distribute the food.
Make finger sandwiches.
Make cucumber, chicken salad, or even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Cut them in half or into quarters and remove any crust to accommodate picky eaters. These can be made a few hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them.
Place the food onto doilies, cake stands, and tiered dessert stands to create a pretty display. Position them in the center of the table and allow the children to help themselves once they’re seated. Or let your child go around and serve each of their friends once the tea is ready.
Offer lots of baked goods.
Tea is frequently served with scones, cakes, and cookies. Make or buy a variety of sweets for them to indulge in, like chocolate cupcakes, carrot cake, cranberry scones, or sugar cookies. If you’re not a baker, buy frozen macarons or petits fours and thaw them a few hours before the party.
Use cookie cutters to make the treats match the theme. For a fairy party, use a butterfly cookie cutter or try to find one made by Disney that’s in the shape of Tinkerbell.
Try to accommodate any food allergies so no one feels left out. For example, if you know one of your child’s friends has an egg allergy, find an egg-free cookie recipe to make.
Teach them about tea drinking.
Look up etiquette guides for drinking tea and then give a lesson as you serve it. Explain how you hold the saucer close to your chest as you lift the cup to your mouth. Show them how you can hold your pinky out as you sip. Just keep this part short since the party should also be about having fun.
Set up a craft station.
Plan a craft around the theme of the party. For a princess party, set out construction paper, glitter, sequins, and tulle, and have them make their own princess hats. For a Victorian tea party, put out cheap headbands and let the kids wrap silk or ribbon around them and decorate them with fake flowers.
For an Alice in Wonderland party, buy real or fake roses and let them paint them different colors. Hang them up to dry and then send the children home with their bouquets.
For a fairy party, buy lots of cheap costume wings and let the kids decorate them with sequins and glue. Then they can wear them once they’re dry.
Pick games that get them moving.
It’s hard for kids to sit still at a table for long periods of time, so let them do something physical, like playing musical chairs, dancing to upbeat music, or playing lawn games if the weather is nice. Croquet is a fun and on-theme game for a Victorian party if you own a set or can borrow one.
For a princess party, get a dragon piñata and let them take turns trying to break it open with a “princess scepter.”
For a general tea party theme, invent little games involving teacups, like trying to toss sugar cubes across the room into cups worth different amounts of points.