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Time for a DIY {High} Tea Party

Jessica Schumann

Growing up, my memories of Mother’s Day overflow with countless cups of tea. It’s no surprise that, years later, I’m an avid lover of high tea with its fancy cucumber sandwiches, bite-size cakes and pastries, and of course various flavoured teas. But high tea can be an expensive affair, which is why there’s something really special about creating your own experience for Mum.

We asked Marwa Rida of End2End Events to share her favourite DIY high tea ideas and all the advice you need to create your own this Mother’s Day, complete with cakes, sandwiches, decorations and, of course, countless cups of tea.

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Backyard High Tea

While traditionally high tea was served early in the evening, it’s never too early to throw mum a tea party at home, specifically your own backyard, whether it’s brunch or a pick me up in the afternoon. Before you get started, take a wander outside and pick a spot for your high tea— be it on a deck, patio or lawn. Make sure it’s reasonably flat too — the last thing you want is your tea running down the table.

Set up a table with four to six chairs, depending on the number of guests and dress the table with a (fine linen) tablecloth; white is always a safe option. Each guest will need a cup, saucer and side plate, but if you don’t have these all on hand, head out to your local charity shop. Mix and match for a relaxed and eclectic feel.

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Of course, you can’t have high tea without the tea, so you’ll also need a teapot with teaspoons. (Hint: before you brew your tea, fill the teapot with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. This will keep the teapot and your tea hotter for longer).

Set each place at the table and place pastries and tea on either side of the flowers in the centre of the table.

For something special, pick a theme and even ask your guests to dress up too – Downton Abbey anyone?


High tea under the trees

Canberra is absolutely stunning during autumn as the leaves turn from green to gold, amber to that deep crimson red. So why not pack up the picnic rug and a hamper for a spot of tea outdoors under the trees and among the beauty of Mother Nature. You can find some of our favourite picnic spots here.

You’ll need a generously sized outdoor rug or throw, a picnic basket or two packed with teaspoons, her favourite tea, sugar cubes, milk (or lemon) and of course your cups and saucers. Oh and mum’s favourite park or picnic spot too! Don’t forget each guest will need a cup, saucer and side plate plus serving ware to handle the delicious treats.

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Hint: Carry your hot water in a thermos and wrap the teapot in a tea towel for a little extra padding in the basket. Throw in a couple of bottles of cold water too and a little vase for the flowers you’ll pick up along the way.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

Ever seen Alice in Wonderland and wanted a tea party like the Mad Hatter? Now’s your chance to recreate one for mum — at home!

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Theme your party from start to end, right down to the invitations you’ll send out to your guests. Again decide if you want to have high tea indoors or out, and pick a spot to set the table. Lay the table with a table cloth and all your high tea essentials (3-piece tea sets, teapots, cakes and treats, sugar and milk etc). To keep with the theme, fill a vase with bright coloured flowers (hot pink gerberas, orange tiger lillies, purple irises etc).

Encourage guests to dress up in their favourite Alice in Wonderland character but let mum dress as Alice — after all, she is the guest of honour. Play a spot of Mad Hatters Trivia with the winner getting a fancy dinner with Alice.

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High tea pamper party

These days you can order just about any pamper service to come to you, so why not combine two of mum’s favourite things and treat her to a high tea pamper party? Gather up family or some of mum’s closest friends (and their daughters too) for an afternoon or evening of pampering. Intimate and small works best so maybe limit your numbers to six.

For this to work, you’ll need to set aside two spaces — one for the pampering and one for the high tea goodies. Again set your table with a tablecloth (forget the chairs) and high tea essentials, (you might even like to include some bubbly too). Laden the table with finger sandwiches, sweet treats and savoury bites along with a big vase of beautiful flowers that mum can take home at the end of the party.


Dust off those relaxation CDs and set the tone with some chilled background music, and light some candles to really create a beautiful, relaxing atmosphere for everyone to unwind.

Keep it local

When you’re planning your high tea menu, think local! Here are some of our favourite things.

Leave the hard work to the experts

If you love all these ideas but the thought of actually gathering everything together sounds too hard, Marwa can help – from a DIY package, to organising the whole kit and caboodle. Check her website at www.end2endevents.com.au for more information.

Photography by Tracy Lee Photography.


Jessica Schumann

A 'rambling ranga' at heart, Jessica Schumann is a bubbly, creative social thinker who thrives on words, social media and an innate knack for sharing stories. When she finds the time to write, Jessica seeks out the beauty in change and the essence of human condition. Varied and diverse in nature, her writing delves into the enviable world of people, travel, food and culture. When you can't find her in a nook writing, just follow your nose and you’ll soon find Jessica indulging in her other passion – cooking – or curled up on the couch with a good book in hand. You can find her over at ramblingranga.com.au. More about the Author

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