The arrangement of the tea table at your party will largely be determined by the resources you have at your disposal as well as how you foresee your guests mixing with one another. When having tea, do you want everyone to be seated at the table, or are visitors welcome to sit anywhere they choose in the living room, including on chairs and couches? There is no need to put undue stress on yourself over the intricacies of arranging the tea table, such as getting worked up over the fact that you do not possess dessert spoons. Additionally, there are occasions when deviating from the norm is the best course of action. Simply organise in the most appealing manner possible whatever components you have at your disposal.
Even if you intend for the eating and mingling portions of the afternoon tea to take place in a location other than the dining room, you may still utilise the dining room table to serve the food and drink to your guests. Take the chairs out from under the table, and set up the food in a buffet arrangement. Think about the flow of traffic and arrange the stacked side plates, utensils, and linen napkins near one another at a place where the guests can easily grab what they need before making their way around the table to the food. This will ensure that there is a smooth transition between each step of the process. Put the bowls of clotted cream and jam next to the scones, and make sure the teacups, saucers, and teaspoons are next to the teapot. The milk pitcher, lemon dish, and sugar bowl should all be within easy reach of each other.
You could also place the teapot and a few snacks on a low tea table if you have one in the living room. This would be an alternative option. The elegant upper-crust of Victorian times would have their afternoon tea in the drawing room, where the lady of the house would serve the tea from a low side table (thus the term “low tea” for an afternoon tea). Guests will be able to easily assist themselves to the various kinds of food while you serve the tea if you just set this table in any manner makes the most sense and makes the most sense to them.
Let’s suppose that you would want all of your visitors to sit down at a table so that they may enjoy the tea and the food that you have prepared. In the event that you want to serve a “high tea,” which is comparable to a dinner, you will need to put either a casual or a formal place setting at each guest’s seat, depending on the nature of the event.
The foundation of the tea table setting lies on a pretty table cloth. The utensils should be placed approximately one inch away from the edge of the table and run from the outside to the inside of the place setting in the order of use. Therefore, the utensils needed last would be closest to the plate. Forks are placed to the left of the plate and knives and spoons are placed on the right with the knife closest to the plate and the blade facing in. Glasses should be to the right of the setting and above the knife and spoons. The linen napkin is either laid across the plate or to the left of the forks, as you prefer. Arranging place cards ahead of time is a nice touch that makes your guests feel special and relaxed, especially if many of them do not know one another.
In the formal place setting, a bread plate goes on the left side above the forks with a butter knife laid diagonally across it. Both a dessert spoon and cake fork are placed above the dinner plate and a salad plate is laid on top of it.
And of course, there is the teacup and saucer which is set to the right of the knife and spoons. For the typical dinner party, these are usually not placed on the table until the dessert course. But if you are hosting a tea party, the cup and saucer will be an important feature of the table setting for each course.
Adjust your tea table to best accommodate the dishes and drinks that you plan to serve. The setting may fall somewhere in between the informal and formal table setting depending on the supplies available and the menu. For example, a salad plate would be a silly addition if you do not plan to serve salad but you still may want to use a cake fork or bread plate in the tea table setting.
To make the serving of the tea as easy as possible, the tray with a teapot, milk pitcher, sugar bowl, lemon dish, and waste bowl can be arranged on a side table as the main dining table can quickly become cluttered with plates, glasses, cups, and utensils.
For a list and descriptions of all the tea dishes and serving supplies you may need for the table, take a look at the page on tea equipment.