Tea Party Dress Guide, Decor and More

In this comprehensive guide to tea parties, learn what to wear to a tea party and get the tips about where to find tea party outfits. Get ideas for tea party decorations, tea party themes, and tea party food. As a veteran member of a vintage car club, as well as multiple school social committees, I’ve had many opportunities to be a tea party attendee or hostess. Think hosting a tea party has to be complicated? Not true! Whether you are looking for ideas for a bridal shower tea party, a birthday tea party, or any other kind of tea party for adults, you’re in the right place to get simple tips to make your tea party a fabulous success. Looking for ideas for a tea party for kids? Find those ideas here as well. Let’s get going with some tea party inspo!

My Tea Party Backstory

As a child, I would often take tea with my dear Canadian grandmother. Tea was an important part of her day. As part of the teatime ritual, she would let me (and other granddaughters) choose a fine china teacup to use for our sweet tea concoction. Was she ever nervous about breakage? I have no idea, but we never damaged a cup, and to this day I remember those tea times with great fondness. A tea party does not have to be fancy, but it’s fun to have an excuse to dress up. Interested in creating your own tea party memories? I’m so glad you stopped by and I hope you get some fabulous ideas.

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Tea Party Themes

Tea party theme ideas can range from sophisticated to casual, with a great variety of options for tea party decor and tea party outfit ideas. If you belong to a vintage car club, as I do, naturally a tea party theme could be the era of the car. In my case, it’s Model A Ford automobiles from the late 1920s and early 1930s. I once hosted a Downton Abbey themed bridal shower tea party. The possibilities are many. Here’s a list of tea party themes to get you thinking:

  • Princess tea party (for kids or adults)
  • Birthday tea party
  • Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter tea party
  • Murder Mystery tea party
  • Jane Austen tea party
  • 1920s themed tea party
  • 1930s themed tea party
  • Sunflower themed tea party
  • Dahlia themed tea party
  • Rose Garden themed tea party
  • Wildflower themed tea party
  • Blue and White themed tea party
  • Black and White themed tea party
  • Anne of Green Gables themed tea party
  • American Girl themed tea party
  • Fancy Nancy themed tea party
  • Rainbow Fairies themed tea party
  • Quilt themed tea party
  • Lemon-Themed tea party

If you are part of a book club and you have finished reading a book where the central characters often take tea, you could develop a theme around that. Have a favorite cozy book series? Those would lend themselves well to a tea party theme. Look around you home or local library for ideas and have fun getting inspired!

Tea Party Attire

What do you wear to a tea party? It depends on the tea party theme. Here is a picture of some ladies from my Model A club decked out in 1920s and 1930s tea party outfits, complete with hats and accessories. 

tea party dress ideas and hats on ladies

Some of the ladies are wearing vintage tea party attire, and others are wearing what we call “era” outfits and accessories. That means that the clothing is in the style of the theme era, but wasn’t made during that era. Many fashions from the 1920s and 1930s are too fragile to wear, so most ladies opt for vintage-looking tea party attire rather than fashions that were made during that time. Actually, any fancy tea party dress will do!

Where do you find tea party clothes? Second hand shops are a great source of vintage tea party outfit ideas. You can also find vintage-looking clothing online. If you are looking for ideas about what to wear for a tea party, read on.

Tea Party Dresses

For vintage-looking 1920s and 1930s tea party dresses, look for handkerchief hemlines and dropped waistlines.

tea party dress with hat
Note the handkerchief hemline, which is a classic 1920s and 1930s tea party dress feature. The only thing I would change about this dress is its color. I wish it were a pastel shade.

If the tea party is a fancy affair, it’s nice to have a dress that is long enough so that you can wear knee-high stockings rather than pantyhose. When someone refers to a high tea party dress, they might be thinking of a fancy tea party dress. I learned from my travels to the UK that high tea really means simply a heartier tea that is more of a meal. If you want your guests to wear fancy dresses to a tea party, it would be better to specify “fancy dress” rather than “high tea party dress”.

What kind of material is a tea party dress made of? For a summer outdoor garden tea party, a great choice for summer tea party attire is lightweight chiffon. It’s easy-care, breezy and feminine. Winter tea party attire can include dresses made of heavier material such as velvet. Here are some tea party dress examples for consideration.

Floral Lace Handkerchief Swing Dress
High Low Flowing Floral Print Swing Dress
1920s Vintage-Look Lace Gatsby Dress with Crochet Vest
1920s-Inspired Flapper Look Tea Dress
1950s-Inspired Vintage Look Short Sleeve Pleated Swing Dress
Printed Cross V-Neck Flowing High Low Dress
Calvin Klein Tulip-Sleeved Sheath Dress
V-Neck Chiffon Party Gown

Tea Party Shoes

When you think of tea party shoes, especially if the tea party outfits are vintage-look, keep the word “strappy” in mind.

strappy tea party shoes
These are my favorite strappy shoes. They are well-worn and have been repaired because they fit so well, are extremely comfortable, and I can’t bear to part with them.

If you are searching online, try entering terms like “t-strap” to see what you find. Here are some ideas for you.

Teardrop Cutout T-Strap Mid Heel Dress Pumps
Comfy T-Strap Dance Shoe (Love the caramel color!)
Pointed Toe Ankle Wrap T-Strap Flat
Low Kitten Heel Ankle Strap Dress Sandals

Tea Party Hats and Accessories

Whether your tea party theme is vintage or modern, there are many fun hats to be found. As a party activity, you could provide plain straw hats and hot glue guns. Have a variety of dollar store tea party hat accessories for your guests to choose from, then let guests make their own custom creation dollar store tea party hats. Pick up fake flowers, ribbons, scarves, jewel stickers and other embellishments and have a great time.

You can also find a variety of vintage and vintage-look hats online. Etsy is a great source.

selling on etsy tips pink hat

In fact, in the interest of full disclosure, I have a small hat shop on Etsy with a very limited selection of tea party headwear. There are other tea party hat and accessory sources as well. Here are a few finds for you.

Mesh and Flower Fascinator Hat on a Headband
Organza Wide-Brimmed Summer Sun Hat
Lace Tea Party Gloves
1920s-Inspired Pearl Clutch Handbag

Tea Party Decorations

Tea party decor can range from something as simple as decorative paper plates with flowers on a table to tea party banners and formal china dishes. Here is a cute idea: Plant a small plant, such as a pansy, in a teacup. You can give the teacup and plant away to a lucky guest at the tea party’s conclusion. 

teacup and saucer with pansy for tea party decor

Another simple decor idea is to use teacups as vases for cut blooms. It’s sometimes tough to know how to display cut rhododendron flowers. A teacup is the perfect vessel, as the blooms don’t have much of a stem.

tea party decor rhododendron bloom in a teacup

You could make place cards with pressed flowers. Here are some ideas for decorating the room or garden area for your tea party.

“Let’s Partea” Pink and Gold Backdrop Tea Party Banner
Floral Fabric Bunting Tea Party Banner
Happy Birthday Tea Party Banner
Floral Tea Party Hanging Decorations

For a children’s tea party, you could have small tables and chairs with a tiny ceramic teapot, cups and saucers. For an adult tea party, you could have tiered tea party trays along with vintage bone china hostess sets or tennis sets. According to a variety of sources, these little tea trays originated because tea was served at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, but it was tricky to balance a teacup, saucer and plate without a table. Thus, the tennis set was created and given a name. These tea party tennis sets (hostess sets) were handed down to me from my mom, along with the tiered tea party serving tray.

tea party hostess sets and tiered tea party tray

For more ideas about tea party dishes and serveware, take a look at this list.

Vintage Floral Tea Party Paper Plates
Lenox Butterfly Meadow 3-Tiered Server
Royal Albert Rose Confetti Sandwich Tea Party Tray
Royal Albert Rose Confetti 3-Piece Tea Set
Royal Albert New Country Roses 3-Tiered Cake Stand
Royal Albert Rose Confetti Vintage Teacup and Saucer
Pack of 12 Floral Paper Cups and Saucers
Godinger Crystal Glass Footed Cake Stand

Tea Party Food

When planning what to serve at a tea party, think of the word “dainty”. To keep things simple, you can take many of your favorite dessert recipes and make them mini-sized. For example, these little brownie bites were made with a brownie mix and baked in a mini muffin pan.

tea party dessert table mini brownies

Create an entire tea party dessert table with mini dessert items. You can take recipes like white chocolate raspberry scones or decadent chocolate orange scones and bake as the recipe directs or divide the dough into eight rounds instead of just four before cutting into mini scones.

Tea party cake stand and teapot with tea party mini scones

To decorate tea party treats, you can use a handy decorating tool like this one from Wilton Dessert Decorator.

 

It works well with a variety of frostings, and is super easy to clean. I like to use it for piping the filling into deviled eggs, which is another great tea party food possibility.

Tea party food deviled eggs on a tea party egg tray

For a high tea, which really means a tea that is more of a meal, you will want some savory items as well as the sweet treats. To make dainty tea party sandwiches, just use your favorite chicken salad, egg salad, or tuna salad mix. Make the sandwiches, then trim off the crusts and cut the bread into triangles. Pro tip: Work with bread that is frozen to make the slicing easier.

Tea Party Locations

Gardens make lovely tea party locations, as do dining rooms and sun rooms. If you are looking for a place that serves tea and are not hosting the tea party at your home, hotels are often excellent tea party locations. Taking someone out for a Christmas tea party is an elegant holiday treat. If you are searching for a place to hold a tea party, you can just do a search and type in the words “tea rooms near me”. You could even plan a trip around tea rooms and do a tea party tour. Traveling? Book a tea room experience. For Downton Abbey fans, you can even take tea on the grounds of Highclere Castle. (I learned this when I went on a fun Highclere Castle adventure.)

Tea party decor, outfits and more tiered tea tray Pinterest image

 

Tea Party Planner

Is your calendar filled with tea parties and other social engagements? It’s always nice to have a place to jot down ideas and schedules. With this 16-page planner, all of your tea party tasks, appointments and lists can be in one well-organized place. Just download and print the file to get started.

sunflower garden planner printable

Get the planner!

Have a wonderful week, and may all of your tea party planning endeavors meet with success!

First Name Signature Conclusion

 

 

Lisa Mitchell is a wife, mom, and school librarian who likes to host tea parties and other functions. When the weather allows, she enjoys entertaining outdoors on the grounds of her family’s small Pacific Northwest farm. To learn more about what this website has to offer, click on over to the Welcome page.

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10 thoughts on “Tea Party Dress Guide, Decor and More”

  1. I’ve never participated in a tea party but it is neat to find out about the various tea party dress ideas. Tea parties do sounds like quite a fun experience, even though I am not a tea drinker, but hey I heard the snacks are pretty good!

    Reply
    • You could host a snack party instead of a tea party!=)

      Reply
  2. I love a good tea party and of course you need a beautiful tea party dress. Fun way to get together with friends.

    Reply
    • Yes! Any excuse to dress up for a tea party, I will jump at the chance.

      Reply
  3. I love everything about this post! All the ladies look so fab in that picture and I could definitely go for the pink hat. I love these 1920s vibes. Yummy treats too!

    Reply
    • Oh, thank you so much for your enthusiasm and kind words. Wearing a tea party dress and hat definitely add to the experience!

      Reply
  4. I love this tea party dress guide! I like especially the shoes, they are gorgeous. In Bulgaria, it is not common to have tea parties, but in 2 weeks I will travel to the UK and perhaps I can enjoy tea time there. Thanks a lot for sharing this funny and helpful article!

    Reply
    • Oh, how exciting to be traveling to the UK. If you have a great tea time experience while there, I’d love to hear about it.

      Reply
  5. This is funny. My wife just went to a high tea with a British friend of hers. She didn’t wear any kind of tea party dress but I think the hat would have been a good idea. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Very fun to get to have high tea with a British friend! Tea parties are a lot of fun, even without a tea party dress or hat. I’m always glad to know of others who enjoy them.

      Reply

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