We celebrated Sonia’s 11th birthday with an English tea birthday party and it was a lot of fun. We try to make each birthday party special although sometimes we end up going the “easy” route and just celebrate at a party place, Chuck E Cheese style. I always leave those places exhausted and disappointed, like it was a waste of a birthday. Something about keeping an eye on a herd of screaming kids who lose track of their party mates and trying to make conversation with the parents and supervise the staff (who inevitably screw up your order of pizza) all at the same time just does not sound very special. Definitely not easy for me.
For this party, we brainstormed ideas together and settled on the “English tea” theme. We are tea drinkers and Sonia is getting really good at baking so it made sense to create a party around this. It did take some planning and arranging, but we had a lot of fun in the process. Here is a walk through of how we did it.
We started by making a detailed list which included the following categories:
- Table decor/set-up.
- Games & prizes.
Sonia worked on her list and sent me a Google Doc invite, she took this task seriously. A good skill to have when you are about to start middle school!
I then added details to the list, such as where and when to buy items we didn’t already have and added them to my grocery list.
We tried to use what we already owned as much as possible, and for the rest of the items, I shopped thrift stores, TJMax and Walmart. When buying extra supplies I considered how/if we would be able to use them after this English tea party. I am trying to reduce the amount of stuff in the house and only keep things that are used regularly and didn’t want to buy anything that couldn’t be repurposed later.
I drink a lot of tea and have a good supply of black and green teas. I also bought herbal and fruity kinds for the girls– I know not every kid enjoys black tea:)
We used two small teapots for black and green loose leave tea and set out a variety set of flavored tea packets.
A small creamer, sugar cubes and water completed the drinks area.
Since we were spending a lot of time setting up and decorating, we decided to simplify the food menu and didn’t bake as much. Here is what our menu included:
- Madeleines (Costco).
- “European cookies” (Costco, assorted cookies in a tin box ).
- Macaroons (Costco, freezer section).
- Banana bread (Sonia baked).
- Buttermilk biscuits (this recipe) with butter and two types of jam.
- Ham and cheese croissant sandwiches.
- Cream cheese- cucumber sandwiches with pesto (Spread cream cheese on one slice of bread and pesto on the other. Arrange cucumber slices on top of the cream cheese. Assemble sandwiches cream cheese and pesto sides together and cut into quarters).
We set up the table the day before the party which is what I normally try to do when we have a party or a gathering. We went with a white table cloth and a runner (both from Walmart) and opted to skip placemats.
All the serving dishes were set up the way we planned to serve food and we also added food labels.
Each place setting included a plate, a teacup with a saucer (thrift store), a napkin, silverware, and a place card that Sonia made out of some scrapbooking paper.
Phoebe got this cute tiny teacup, just the right size for a 4-year-old.
The girls sampled everything and tried different teas.
We kept the games simple and, as with the table, we set up the games the day before. It was nice not to have to scramble to put everything together the last minute.
Here are the games the girls (and the boys– we had a few guys join the fun along the way) played:
“Guess how many kisses”: I filled an old vase with a bag of Hershey’s kisses chocolates and the girls wrote the number on a piece of paper as they came in.
After everyone was done with their tea and treats, the girls counted the chocolates. The winner took all of the chocolate!
Memory game: the girls had 30 seconds to look at the tray that had an assortment of random objects that Sonia and I had collected through out the house. Then I took the tray away and rearranged/removed some objects.
The girls then had to write what they thought was different, and we compared the answers.
“Tea bag toss”: the brown bags were labeled with points from 10 to 30, the farther the bag– the more points one would earn. It was surprisingly difficult to make a precise throw. The cat is making sure the rules are being followed.
Trivia: we played a trivia game that covered the topics of “Great Britain” and “Tea”. When sending out birthday invitations, we asked our guests to read up on those. The way the girls were answering my questions showed that we all really need to brush up on our Geography skills.
Musical chairs: an oldy but goody. You’d think 11-year-olds are too old for this but they were totally into it.
This is getting too long, so as a wrap up a few tips to keep in mind:
- Write everything out ahead of time. My list included categories (food, tea, decor, games, prizes) with the timeline and stores where to buy everything. This made shopping for the party easier and helped me avoid last minute runs to the store.
- Go over the time line of the party. It is helpful to “budget” time for the party activities. You don’t want to stand over your guests with a stop watch, of course, but having a rough schedule ensures that there will be enough time for all the activities and you won’t feel rushed.
- Set up in advance as much as possible. Little things add up fast. I really don’t enjoy rushing like a mad woman before my guests arrive, so setting everything in advance is key for me.
I think this about covers it. Let me know if you have any questions, I am probably forgetting something!