I don’t know about you but I love a good tea party – afternoon tea, cream tea, high tea…hell, even tea and biscuits do it for me. I do find that booking an afternoon tea can be expensive, though, especially in London. With this in mind I decided to throw my own tea party on a budget last weekend. See below for tips and tricks for a DIY event that’s every bit as special as a champagne soaked afternoon at the Ritz (well, okay, almost…)
So firstly, the decor. It’s easy to create a festive feeling on a budget, you just need to know where to look. I got the pom poms and ‘Love’ balloon from Hobby Craft. The pom poms cost £5 for five and the balloon was £6.00. I dug the bunting out of a kitchen drawer where it had been languishing since I bought it at The Country Living Fair last spring. It’s by Gisela Graham and is available on Amazon for £9.59 but you can also make your own bunting. Pom poms are equally simple to make – you just need some tissue paper, twine and thread.
The tablecloth is an old vintage one that I’ve had for a few years but you can pick up similar items at car boot sales for a few pounds. You might also want to try Annie’s Vintage in Camden Passage. There’s often a range of pretty tablecloths and handkerchiefs that Annie sources herself from Paris – and they’re not too expensive either.
The glass teapot is by Bitossi Home. I can’t find it online at the moment but here’s a similar one for £19.00. The jug was a lucky find in TK Maxx and the cake stands were borrowed from my mum and sister. You can get an almost identical version in Homebase for…wait for it…£3.19!
The flowery plates are new this summer from the M&S Spring Blooms range. They’re melamine, so perfect for use in the garden, and very affordable, starting at just £3.50.
Finally, the purple cup and saucer are from Bombay Duck and cost £14.95. The latest versions have a gold handle that just adds to the already gorgeous design. The other cup and saucer came from John Lewis and is by Royal Pembroke & Edwards.
Obviously if you’re on a budget you won’t want to splash out on new china so you can just use paper cups and plates instead. Talking Tables do a lovely range, with plates starting at just £4 for three but if you’re anything like me you’ll no doubt have a wide assortment of vintage china to choose from. If not, do check out car boot sales (can you tell I’m a fan?) I got piles of pretty cups and plates at ridiculous prices for my wedding a few summers ago at and I still use them now.
Now on to the good bit – the cake! Despite my assumption that in order to throw a stylish party I’d need cakes from somewhere flash, I headed to my local Sainsbury’s in search of affordable treats – and thankfully they didn’t let me down. I grabbed a banoffee pie, a frangipane tart and a Gu Zillionaire cheesecake all for less than £12. That’s half of what you’d expect to pay for your average afternoon tea in London and this fed five people – with leftovers! If you fancy baking your own, try out my chocolate avocado cake or check out these cheap baking recipes on the BBC website.
I dressed up the cakes with some pretty flowers from Hobbycraft and this really added to the overall look. Who needs piped sugar petals at 50p a pop when you can get reusable blooms for just a couple of quid?
The party was a real success and everyone commented on all the pretty details. I’d definitely recommend throwing your own, even if it’s only to indulge your inner interiors queen! This approach is much more fun than a traditional afternoon tea and there’s not a packed tube train or snooty waiter in sight.
Have you styled a tea party of your own? Or perhaps arranged a DIY wedding or other event? I’m a huge fan of all things DIY so I’d love to hear all about it. Give me the goss in the comments below.