There is no need for concern over the flawless execution of any guidelines regarding tea party etiquette that you may have heard. Follow some guidelines may not be acceptable for the case depending on the formality of the setting or the connection you have with visitors; thus, it is important to always use your best judgement in all situations. The most essential thing is to ensure that both you and your guests are feeling comfortable and are having a good time.
The host or hostess sets the tone for appropriate behaviour during a social gathering. It is important to ensure that visitors at the tea party who may not be familiar with one another are properly introduced to one another and that talks are started between them. During the Victorian era, tea was a highly prized item; as a result, the privilege of pouring the tea was traditionally reserved for the hostess or bestowed to a distinguished visitor. If you have other preparations to do at the time, ask a reliable friend to serve the tea for you and make sure that the cups of everyone else are refreshed on a regular basis.
Below are some important tea party etiquette tips for hostesses and guests alike:
- Keep the teacup and the saucer together if there is a large distance to cover to your mouth. When taking a sip, lift the teacup by the handle and hold the saucer beneath it with the other hand.
- Do not extend the pinkie when sipping tea. It is not proper and only looks silly and pretentious.
- Avoid making loud noises with the tea accessories such as clinking the teaspoon against the cup when stirring the tea or dropping the spoon into the saucer.
- Never place soiled utensils on the tea table as these may stain the linens. Place a used teaspoon on your saucer behind the cup and rest your utensils on your plate between bites.
- Do not wipe your mouth with a napkin. Use a blotting motion instead. Also if you wear lipstick, do not blot it with the linen napkin as this could create an unsightly stain. Keep a tissue handy for this purpose and use it discreetly.
- When leaving the table, do not place your napkin back onto the table but leave it in your chair instead.
- At the end of the meal, the host or hostess should be the first to pick up his or her napkin (of course after observing that the guests are finished). Do not refold the napkin. Instead, pick it up by the center and place it on the left side of the plate.
- If you are wearing gloves, do not shake hands without removing them. Be sure to not eat or drink with them on as well.
Tea party etiquette takes only a little practice until it becomes second nature. When in doubt, watch others around you and copy them if their behavior looks appropriate. If you are unsure but act with confidence, it is not likely that others will notice a mistake.
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