Taking place every year during the second week of August, Afternoon Tea Week is a celebration of the great British tradition of afternoon tea; think cups of tea, scrumptious sweet treats and sandwiches with an array of classic fillings, all to be enjoyed on a gorgeous summer's day.
If you’re looking to host your own afternoon tea party and take part in the festivities, Kate Conrad, leading interior stylist at Madison and Mayfair, offers some of her top tips and ideas to help you celebrate Afternoon Tea Week in style.
Create your own tea set
The basis of any afternoon tea is the crockery. Whether you've been saving an antique or vintage tea set for a special occasion, like to make use of your favourite pieces, or want to treat yourself to something new, you can have fun creating the perfect afternoon tea set.
For her afternoon tea crockery, Kate is looking to trending colours, with pink at the forefront of her scheme. 'A pink mug, placed next to a matching pink plate, can look so cute alongside your choice of fairy cakes and sponges and can really make your afternoon tea feel like a special event' she explains.
If a monochromatic scheme doesn't excite you, why not make a statement with contrasting colours? Nothing says summer afternoon tea party than a pink and green theme, so why not add some green table linen, or a vase full of luscious greenery?
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Mix and match colour & pattern
If eclectic is more your style, why not mix and match different tea cups, plates, colours and patterns? 'People are moving away from the perfectly matched minimalist aesthetic and embracing the maximalist style, and this can be incorporated into your crockery too' says Kate.
If you're nervous about how to make your table set-up look cohesive, why not choose a theme? Kate is opting to follow an exotic theme, 'combining leopard print mugs with zebra patterned side plates to create a fun, stylish afternoon tea spread.'
It's up to you how crazy you want to go with it. For something more subtle, choose a couple of different tea sets in either the same pattern or colour palette and mix them up on your afternoon tea table. Or, if you'd rather go all-out, choose different colours with different size plates stacked on top of each other.
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Picture perfect table spreads
Though your choice of tea set plays a big part in your afternoon tea spread, your table layout will have a large impact on the overall set-up. 'It helps to have a theme when you’re styling your table styling' advises Kate, adding 'if you choose a core colour, you can incorporate this into your crockery. For example, if you choose gold rimmed plates for a clean, sophisticated look, you can then further accessorise the table with little gold accents such as vases and other ornaments.'
If your afternoon tea theme aires on the maximalism side, your table theme can really be an extension of your tea sets. 'Have fun mixing and matching your plates and crockery with table decorations and ornaments with various patterns, colours, and vibes to create an eclectic spread' says Kate. Go big with a bold cake stand for your centrepiece, surrounded by vases of varying heights filled with colourful summer plants.
It's also important to think about each individual table setting if you're creating a sit-down feast. Will you have place mats and name cards, a table runner, or one big, patterned table cloth? If you don't want to buy all the decorations for your afternoon tea party separately, you can in stead by a decoration pack thats been put together for you. The afternoon tea decoration pack from Bunting & Barrow (pictured) has everything you need for the perfect patterned-spread, without the hassle of sourcing it yourself!
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Make it boozy
Bottomless brunches are becoming all the more popular, often accompanied by Prosecco or cocktails, so you might want to consider adding something a bit stronger than tea to your afternoon tea menu. 'There’s no rule saying that you can’t have some fizz with your afternoon tea' says Kate, adding 'some Prosecco or mimosas pair beautifully with a Victoria sponge, and can add an extra layer of fun to your tea party!'
But which alcoholic beverage you choose really depends on the vibe of your afternoon tea party. If it's a more classy, sophisticated soiree, go for some Champagne or sparkling wine. But if you're planning an informal event, cocktails are a fun idea – you could even go one step further and add a cocktail making element to the party!
This also lends itself to the decorating aspect of your afternoon tea. The glassware you display on the table should be decided with the drink options in mind. Will you need flutes or martini glasses? Or, will you lean in to the afternoon tea theme and serve the booze in tea cups?
With some great ideas for celebrating Afternoon Tea Week, will you be celebrating in traditional style, or shaking things up for a memorable afternoon? Tag us in your afternoon tea pictures on Instagram @homes_antiques.
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