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Wedgwood’s guide to hosting the perfect modern tea party

From the table setting and floral arranging to designing the perfect menu, hosting a tea party in your home can feel like a grand affair.

We asked prop stylist and creative director Hannah Bort, who styled our ‘Art of the Modern Tea Party’ shoot, for her expert tips on how to host the most delightful contemporary tea party, featuring our Wild Strawberry collection.

As the tea party host, where should you start?

I think the first place to start is to think about the mood that you want to set and how you want your guests to feel. Who are you hosting for? Is it a casual and cosy vibe? Is it elevated and elegant? You don't want to be buying specifically for just one occasion, so always work with what you have.
Colour is very evocative and one of the easiest places to start from. If you have a strong accent colour of yellow, have a think about what kind of reaction you want to have from the guests on the day. If you want an energetic and impactful feel, then you could pair it with bolder colours, or if you wanted a softer, relaxed feel you’d pair it back with neutrals or pastels. Flowers and candles are an easy way to change up your colour palette without having to invest in new pieces all the time.

What are your essential tips for planning the ultimate modern tea party?

Always make sure that your guest has a glass in hand as soon as they walk in the door. I like to start with a glass of champagne or prosecco. Make sure you have a non-alcoholic option iced and ready in a decorative jug too. It’s also good to have something communal on the table that everyone can snack on when they arrive.

Of course, for a tea party, what everyone is really there for are the sweets, so make sure there’s a cake set out. I would also offer an alternative to cake, like a jelly, or you can pre-buy some tarts and arrange them beautifully on a tiered cake stand. Whether it’s homemade or store-bought, what’s most important is that it’s beautifully presented and visually arresting. Being hosted is a treat. It's something out of the ordinary, so you should take the time to present things nicely to make everything feel special.

For afternoon tea, I'd also make sure that there are at least two kinds of tea on offer, a lighter, refreshing tea and then something more smoky like an Earl Grey.

What are the tea party hosting must-haves that everyone should own?

Low level tea light holders – there's so many different varieties of tinted glass and ceramics you can buy. Then I always make sure I have a stock of long tapered dinner candles in both plain beeswax and pastels, because that way you can mix and match them depending on the colour scheme you’re going for. I think everyone should have a set of cotton or linen cloth napkins – visually, there's something luxurious about a cloth napkin versus a paper one.
For crockery, I like to mix and match pieces. I love the dichotomy of a classic colourful set of china like Wedgwood’s Wonderlust- and Wild Strawberry pieces, styled in a very modern, contemporary way. I always think it's nice when you go around to people's houses and you can see their personality on the table. And that comes from buying over time and buying what you love.

What’s something that people often overlook when hosting a tea party?

It's all about making your hosts feel relaxed. Lighting can help with this. Candles are my favourite form of lighting, but you can use fairy lights, or layer lighting with lamps. Make sure the room smells nice with something simple like beeswax candles or scented candles on the table. Music is very important too, as it's something that you can direct the mood with.

Finally, what’s your most important piece of advice for hosting a tea party?

Preparation is key. I always think that as a host you should be present with your guests. The day before, cook and prep everything you can, set the table, and prepare the room. Do as much in advance as possible so that you can relax and enjoy the time with your friends when they get there. Because at the end of the day, your guests are there for you!

For more tea party inspiration, follow Wedgwood on Instagram.

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