Children’s tea parties not only serve as a potential business opportunity, they play an important function for today’s youth as such events help cultivate socializing skills, manners and self-confidence.
A tea party is a fun way for children to learn etiquette and develop good social skills, especially in an age when dependence on technology for entertainment can cause isolation and stunt social development.
“A tea party is great because it teaches them something and they enjoy it,” said Faith Bailes, World Tea Expo founder and community and conference content manager. Bailes and Babette Donaldson, International Tea Sipper’s Society President, author and tea educator, share the myriad ways in which tea parties can be fun and educational for children.
Here are some of their tips for tea party success:
- Involve the young patron. “Involve the child [who is hosting the tea party] as much as possible,” said Donaldson. “From making the decision to have a tea party, to planning what they will have to eat to what kind of tea they want … and every step of the way.”
- Use real teaware. Donaldson and Bailes both advocate staying away from plastic and using real teaware. “Plastic is like what they have in their toybox,” says Donaldson. Using real teaware shows respect for the children, who take pride in rising to the occasion. Bailes says the formality of a traditional tea party is exactly what makes it a novel experience for children, who are often relegated to more casual dining. “To them, [a tea party] is different and unique and that’s why they like it,” says Bailes, who recommends using china. Donaldson recommends ceramic teaware, which can often be found at a thrift store or a garage sale and can be taken home as party favors. Demitasse coffee cups are the perfect size for children, says Donaldson.
- Serve lightly-steeped tea and herbal tisanes. For parents who want to limit a child’s caffeine intake, Donaldson suggests steeping tea to a lighter degree. Cambric teas, in which are more than half of the beverage is milk, are also a good low-caffeine option. She also suggests colorful caffeine-free herbal tisanes, such as hibiscus and rose tea, which are often blended with sweet fruits such as apples and orange peel. Bailes recommends rooibos and honeybush teas, which are caffeine-free, full of antioxidants and possess their own natural sweetness.
- Keep food simple but fun. Bailes and Donaldson recommend foods that are not packed with sugar but look fun. Crustless cucumber sandwiches and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are good options. Fruit is a healthy side dish and liked by children. As for sweets, they recommend making simple, small cookies in different shapes. They discourage rich cakes that are packed with sugar and smothered with frosting.
- Tap an abundance of themes. Any time of year is a good time to have a tea party. Holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day and birthdays are opportunities for multiple generations to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Disney movies such as “Frozen” and “Alice in Wonderland” have inspired many tea parties. Donaldson recommends children’s literature-themed tea parties inspired by “Winnie the Pooh,” “Peter Rabbit” and “Harry Potter.” Bailes points out the enjoyment of non-traditional themes, such as a cowboy tea party. Themes that are both simple and fun are a teddy bear tea or a tea party to which children can bring their favorite dolls, notes Bailes.
- Make crafts. Bailes suggests party-themed crafts, such as decorating Easter eggs and baskets and offering prizes to the nicest ones. Children can also make their own Mad Hatter hats at an Alice in Wonderland tea party. Donaldson suggests downloading coloring pages of teapots for coloring during the tea party. Another option is taking the children’s pictures with someone wearing a party-themed costume (such as Elsa from “Frozen”). Children can create and decorate their own picture frames out of cardboard and foam. “Then, the picture from the tea party gets put into the frame,” said Donaldson. More craft ideas can be found at this link: https://teasipperssociety.com/fun-with-tea-index-of-articles/
- Incorporate games. Donaldson recommends a variation on “Pin the tail on the donkey,” called “Pin the handle on the teacup.” Another game idea is stacking paper teacups, the patterns for which can be downloaded. Bailes recommends referencing Pinterest for more tea party game ideas.