Bakery & Pastry 3 min read

How to Throw the Best Afternoon Tea Party on a Budget

afternoon tea party on a table with cakes and sandwiches
Published on Jul 08, 2022
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Afternoon tea parties have been around for years but are still as popular as ever here in the UK, even after originating way back in the 1600s! 

In today's modern world, it is a different way to spend time with friends and family and indulge yourself. They give people the feeling of a leisurely lifestyle and a chance to slow down and relax.

Afternoon tea also gives you that sense of luxury with tiers of sandwiches, sweet treats and scones. Sometimes this luxury can come at a bit of a price especially if you are wanting to pair your tea with a glass of bubbly! 

Take a look below at how to host the best afternoon tea BUT on a budget! 

When Should I Host An Afternoon Tea Party?

Afternoon tea is so versatile. It can be a great event for any occasion, whether this be Mother’s Day, a Baby Shower, Hen Do, a reunion with friends or just a catch-up with the family!

A lot of people often go out for afternoon tea, however, the prices of this can be pretty expensive. Instead, creating your own afternoon tea party can be prepared so quickly and affordable!

You don’t have to stick to the traditional finger sandwiches, cakes and scones. Shake it up a bit and use whatever you have left in your fridge or create a theme. Throwing your own party means you can control the budget and select your favourite finger foods and lots of sweets and treats from Cadbury!

The Essential Equipment

To get you started, there may be a few pieces of equipment you need to buy or dig out the back of the cupboard and dust off. Again, these don’t have to be the best and most fine China. Stick to your budget and the day will flow without any worries.

Tiered Cake Stands

Tiered cake stands are usually the centrepiece for any afternoon tea party. 

This is primarily for presentation and for separating the scones from the cakes and the cakes from the sandwiches. They don’t need to be hugely fancy, and you could even make your own. If you aren’t feeling too creative and would prefer to buy a cake stand we recommend taking a look at Made In Design who have some elegant cake stands available. 

Your Best Crockery

Again, you will find yourself heading to the cupboard to dig out the crockery you were saving for the special occasion!

Your new snazzy ‘Fine China’ from TJ Hughes can be brought out for the event. But if you don't have any fancy crockery or enough sets for everyone, then don't worry! It’s not mandatory that all the crockery needs to match, it simply adds to the effect of the day. 

A Teapot & Teacups

Just like the crockery, if you have hidden gems, then bring them out for the occasion. 

If not, head to a charity shop or a vintage shop. The majority of the time these types of shops will be a fraction of the prices at the supermarkets. Find the fanciest or the quirkiest and bring it home! After all, an afternoon tea party is a traditional occasion so a traditional style teapot would be very fitting. If you prefer something a little more ‘cutsey’ and traditional for your tea party, check out Sophie Allport’s selection of tea cups – they’re stunning!

Champagne Flutes

If you are wanting to be that little bit extra for the day, then get out the champagne or the prosecco!

You can’t drink fizz out of teacups so you will need some flutes from a store like Von Hause where you can pick up some gorgeous flutes. Again, this might be a trip to a charity shop, looking at what you already have or you could even go with plastic reusable flutes. 

The Décor

Isn’t the décor the most important part of any event? Some may say the food or the drinks, but the décor has to be there to bring everything all together. 

Name Place Cards

Place cards give you that personal feeling at any event. Giving someone a space to sit shows the thought and effort you go into. 

Remember we are still on a budget, so wherever you can save money then do it. Try out your own fancy writing, buy some cards and make them yourself!


If you are holding the afternoon tea at home, then you want to make your guests feel like they aren’t sitting in your kitchen or dining room and that you have brought the little tea room to your home. 

Line your walls with patterned or colourful bunting from Wowcher. Most shops have this at a little cost but, again, if you want to make it yourself all you need is paper or card, some string and coloured pens (or even get the kids involved!).


With all the food and drinks on the table, it means the tablecloth may not necessarily be seen fully. 

So keep it plain and keep it a versatile colour, something that will just go with whatever designs and patterns you have in your future themes. 

The Food

Most people will say that this is the main event! To make sure that your afternoon tea runs smoothly without hiccups, it’s a good idea to have your menu arranged in advance. 


When it comes to the sandwiches, traditional sandwiches such as smoked salmon, egg mayo, cucumber and coronation chicken will always be a hit. 

Be sure to slice these into fingers, triangles, or small bites and remember to cut off the crusts. Or if you want to be different, add a few more of your favourites.


No afternoon tea is complete without a cake (or 5). The classic Victoria Sponge is always a winner and brings a touch of class to any occasion. 

Individual portions are key for the afternoon tea aesthetic, so grab your ingredients from Buy Whole Foods Online and bake a generous batch of dinky cakes that are prettily decorated.


No afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones slathered with jam and a dollop of fresh cream! 

They’re excellent served still warm from the oven, sliced in half with a little extra butter melted on each side. Heaven. Any good store-bought jam would make a great pairing with your scones. Or if you have planned ahead and have enough time to make your own then do it! 

The Drink

Try and keep it simple, stick to what you know but also remember to cater for all of your guests. For example, baby showers are sometimes more reserved and people tend to stick to non-alcoholic drinks, but there's no harm in having a bottle of prosecco on the table! If you are wanting to keep the budget low, then you could also ask people to bring their own. 

Tea & Coffee

Make sure that the milk and sugar are on the table ready to offer your guests a cuppa as they sit down. 

Who doesn’t love a good cup of English Breakfast or a nice fresh coffee with a scone and cake? Raid your drawers for all the fruit, green and mint teas you can find to offer on the table too. If you’re running low or only have PG Tips then take a look at Twinnings where you’ll find every flavour of tea under the sun!

Orange Juice

Freshly squeezed orange juice is a great thirst quencher for all guests. Whether this is served on its own with ice or alongside champagne as a mimosa, you simply can not go wrong.

Champagne or Prosecco

Who doesn’t love a glass of fizz with any meal? Breakfast – a glass of champagne topped up with your orange juice, Brunch – bottomless, Afternoon Tea – a glass of champagne. Do I need to go on?

To ensure you stick to your budget, you may want to go for the cheaper option from Cellar Wine Shop and choose prosecco which is still just as delicious. To be extra fancy, you could pop a small strawberry in the top of everyone's glass! 


Charlotte Marshall

Lead Editor

Being a full-time content writer and part-time shopaholic, globe-trotter and avid lover of all things food (and wine)...I love researching the best money-saving hacks so that I can help fuel my own passions, and yours!


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