How to style a Vintage Tea Party

How to style a Vintage Tea Party

Dear Diary,

I never do birthday parties for myself, don’t like the hype….but this year I thought to incorporate a little get together with friends that I hadn’t seen in a while with a Vintage Tea Party ….and having it on my birthday (swat two flies with one swoop)   Something must justify the hard work going into planning and preparing a Vintage Tea Party! 🙂 So I thought to use this same opportunity to show you how to style a Vintage Tea Party…. Grab a cuppa and sit back as this is a long post friends….

How to style a vintage tea party

First a little history..

The British tradition of High Tea began in the mid 1700s as an afternoon meal usually served between 3 and 4 o’clock.  Initially, it was a meal for the working man, taken standing up or sitting on tall stools, thus ‘high’.  Tea with cakes, scones, even cheese on toast would have been served.  Gradually, this afternoon meal became more known as an important event on the social calendars of Ladies and Gentlemen…..

Ok, so by going “Vintage”, the elements needed to do such a tea party would be some sort of surroundings of a bye-gone era.  In my case, my lovely friend’s Victorian inspired Traditional style home, was the perfect venue. She had a big Victorian dining table, crystal chandelier, beautiful antique buffets and heavy drapery. (It could also be done in a beautiful rose garden with the right table and chairs to compliment it.)

How to style a vintage tea party

Start off with a vintage, lace and linen or cotton table-cloth.

I love layering and the soft colours of porcelain tea sets to pop and be juxtaposed against different textures.  Using charcoal velvet did just the job.  Bundle the fabric to give it more movement and letting the lace show beneath. The velvet looks great in this setting with the heavier furniture, but you might opt to keep it soft and white if doing it outside.

Starting in the middle with a bit of height, place your centre arrangement of flowers.  I opted to use my old Royal Albert teapot for fresh flowers, a little gold cup and saucer I found a long time ago in a thrift store, plus a little gold glass to be my centre-piece. Placing this combination on a silver & marble stand for extra height and layering with a lace scarf and string of pearls adds interest and continues the vintage tea party story.


Because of the long table, you need to spread the food items evenly so plates don’t have to be passed along all the time.  Use small plates and containers to split the food into easy reachable spots.  At the two ends of the table, another high pieces were placed – tiered cake stands to hold cupcakes. On both sides next to the tiered stands, start layering your plates in different heights around the stands, using turned over glasses if you must to adjust the height.  Moving towards the edges of the table, flat silver plates, and mirrored trays are used.  (Note the sticky notes so I could remember to place enough plates for the items on my menu. 😉 (getting to the menu later)).  This helps you to see that both sides of the long table has the same food and making sure all the food has a place to go. (I decorated the previous day, and the food would only be placed the morning of the Vintage Tea Party.

Other elements needed for a Vintage Tea Party is vintage serving ware.  I had a few silver teapot sets collected over the years, and luckily lots of artificial flowers borrowed from my props in my photography studio.  A mixture of silver plates, floral plates and other vintage items can be used together in such a party as long as the colour scheme works well.  My overall colour was soft pinks and obviously for a Vintage Tea Party you need a proper tea set!

Near the centre of the table is a good position to place the cake on a cake stand and again layering down with different height plates towards the seated areas, place smaller, lower  items.

Near the scones should be small containers for the butter, jam and cream. Use your artificial flowers to act as fillers around your built-up stands and give a soft vintage feel to your table. Add Strings of peals if you want!

On the four “corners” of the table place your tea-pot, milk and sugar bowls for easy access to all your guests.

I used the side buffets for this Vintage Tea Party as extra drinks stations.  Soften a bland buffet with a piece of lace fabric, add flowers, your tea-pot and other items needed.  This little buffet acted as the coffee station for coffees after the party.

A little flower urn was used to hold cappuccino and latte sachet.

The top shelf was utilised for marshmallows in a glass container and extra tea varieties in a cute little box.

The smaller antique buffet was used for pretty glasses and jugs to serve iced tea.  We have summer now, and a cold refreshing tea was welcomed by all!

Lets get to the menu before I show the final shots.

Scones (served with butter, cream and jam/Jelly)

Cake (banana cream cake with blueberry topping)

Koeksisters (twisted  and fried dough infused with syrup) – heavenly I promise! (Recipe)

Cheese crackers with avocado and cheese dip 

Bread with cream cheese,  roast beef and cucumber slices

Tea Sandwiches – cucumber & cream cheese, egg-salad

Cupcakes ( find the tutorial here to make the rose piped icing topping. If I could do it, anyone can! 😉 ) I found the rose wrappers on eBay.

Cheese-cake-filled strawberries combined with fruit and cheese sticks

Drinks – Tea, Iced tea and coffee

A Few other Tips:

Use different shapes and coloured glasses as containers for dips and crackers.  They are dainty enough to be placed in between other bigger items without crowding the space more, plus it adds the height for interest.

Use your grannie’s serving platters for the breads! 🙂

Incorporate glass domes over cups filled with flowers for extra decorative elements. A Vintage Tea party can’t have enough decorative things you know! 😉

There you have it friends and hopefully a good explanation of the steps on how to style a Vintage Tea Party.

It was a lovely day, and we all got dressed up for the occasion ….it was a Vintage Tea Party after all!!  🙂   I am blessed to have beautiful girlfriends to share my life in the land Down Under and thanks to my gorgeous friend Suzanne for sharing her house for this little Vintage Tea Party!

Vintage High Tea Party - Teresa Bam

Thank you for staying till the end…I know it was a long post but hoping you are inspired to have more Vintage Tea Parties friends – keep the lovely tradition alive!

Till next time



Article by Teresa

Australian Interior Designer / Decorator & Photographer. I share my style, my creativity and love for all things decor.

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