10 Top Tips for Hosting the Perfect Afternoon Tea

We all know that Afternoon Tea is best served with finger sandwiches, scones with lashings of clotted cream and jam, and of course an excess of cake.


But how do you scale that up for 15 people?


10 Top Tips for Hosting Afternoon Tea

1. Decide where your strengths lie in the kitchen arena and buy the rest.

I ordered 2 sandwich platters from Sainsbury’s, which I collected fresh that morning. They offer a whole range of platters to suit any occasion, and for the convenience I would highly recommend it. I picked mine up from the Fallowfield branch, having ordered them from the Deli counter at least 3 days beforehand.

I was also lucky enough to win 12 cupcakes from Airyfairy Cupcake Boutique. Collecting them on Saturday morning was, on this occasion, much easier than making my own.


2. Think about how much time you have for baking when you plan your menu.

An afternoon was enough time to produce a batch of Mary Berry’s Buttermilk Scones, her very quick, easy, and reliable Lemon Tray Bake (see her At Home recipe book) and my Grandma’s Ring Cake.

None of the cakes required icing afterwards, a real time saver!


3. Make the food go further with a few bowls of nibbles.

I know that crisps don’t feature in a traditional afternoon tea, but people always appreciate food they can pick at. I went for crisps, strawberries, and my new favourite – Sable grapes.

Fruit always looks pretty and it adds just a touch of something healthy.


4. Ask your friends to bring a bottle and to bake if they have time.

My lovely friends provided French Fancies, Apple, Apricot and Walnut Loaf, and Chocolate Eclairs. Worries about not having enough food to go round were unfounded.

5. Make sure you have plenty of tea bags.

It’s a good idea to offer a caffeine free variety too, such as Peppermint Tea or Green Tea.

A teapot is very handy here. I served my tea in the vintage china tea cups I bought from the Vintage Home Show to add an extra flourish.


6. Buy a few types of fizz.

Guests who are driving may well have a glass of Bucks Fizz. And for everyone else, you can never have too much prosecco – or is that just me?

7. Save on washing up.

Provide paper plates and plastic glasses!

8. Keep food bags and boxes handy.

Fill them with cakes for your guests to take when they leave. This saves you having to eat your weight in cake afterwards, which actually sounds like fun, but would mean a lot of extra running!

9. Take time to lay the table.

Use your favourite table cloth.

Cake stands of different heights add interest and make it easier to fit everything in.

Make sure you have plenty of knives and spoons to hand.

Add some candles for a cosy glow.


10. Light the fire, string up some balloons or bunting and Relax.


Love cake? Check out my guide to the best afternoon teas in Manchester.

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