High Tea is a popular option for functions such as women’s groups, bridal/baby showers, fundraisers and general get-togethers. They can be large, decadent affairs or simple tea and cake set ups. Unlike regular afternoon teas though, High Teas tend to be special with a higher standard of dress code, the best china tea cups, and a selection of exclusive treats displayed on beautiful cake towers.
All in all, a High Tea is generally considered to be a bit fancy!
In the past four years, I’ve hosted two High Tea events – in two very different locations and quite different set ups. I’ll share with you some tips in this article that you might find helpful should you choose to host your own High Tea event.
The first High Tea was at a small suburban cafe and the second was at tearooms located just outside our city. These two events were quite different and taught me a lot for future event planning.
The first venue was quite casual in setting. Being a small indoor cafe, once we filled it with 25 guests the noise of everyone talking became quite overwhelming at times and made conversation difficult. To keep tickets affordable, the price charged to guests didn’t include drinks with guests placing and paying for drink orders on the day. The food, while delicious, was lacking in variety and quantity. While still a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, it wasn’t quite the ‘fancy’ environment you’d expect from a High Tea.
The second event was held at Heritage Tea Rooms and this beautiful venue never fails to disappoint in atmosphere. Our group of 25 was located in an outdoor undercover area with white tableclothed long tables and beautiful place settings.
A variety of teas was made available for guests to enjoy, as well as chilled water and fruit punch. We were provided with so much food that the last guests to leave actually took home doggie bags!
However, I’d made the mistake of choosing the sweets menu and the lack of savoury treats was definitely noticed. Also, the large outdoor area, while great for acoustics, felt disconnected and guests didn’t mingle.
Tips for hosting a High Tea
When deciding on the ticket price your guests will pay there are a few things to consider:
- Does the price include drinks, particularly bottomless cups of tea?
- Will your guests prefer to pay a little extra for a glass of bubbly on arrival?
- Does the ticket price present good value for money? (particular if adding an extra margin for fundraising or profit!)
- Will guests receive a ticket to a lucky door prize? If the prize is not donated, does your ticket price cover this purchase?
- Do guests have the option to purchase additional food/drink items during the event? This can be helpful when wanting to keep your ticket price low by providing guests with the option to purchase the extras such as alcoholic drinks.
The venue choice can sometimes be more important to your event than the menu or ticket price. Choose a venue that provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere where guests can relax and enjoy the event.
- If indoor, what are the acoustics like? Visit the venue during a busy time and listen to the noise level – can you still enjoy a conversation easily without raising your voice?
- If outdoor, consider environmental factors that might affect your event.
- Does the venue offer a dedicated area & service for your event? You don’t want your guests waiting on their food because the venue is juggling your event with their regular day to day operation.
- Is there on-site parking or is public transport available to the venue?
- Is the venue accessible and friendly for everybody? Consider checking details such as wheelchair access, baby changing tables, etc.
- Don’t be afraid to ask venue staff their advice on guest numbers before organising your event. They will know what works well for their space.
- Check what decorations your venue provides as part of the package. Most should have nice tablecloths and place settings.
- For special events such as a Bridal Shower, ask if you can bring along your own decorations to help dress up the tables. This will not only add the much needed High Tea elegance, but also gives a personalised experience for your guests.
- When choosing your High Tea package, take some time to study the menu. Does it look like there’s a good variety of options, and most importantly will there be enough food for all guests?
- Are there options for specific dietary requirements such as Gluten Free, Vegan, etc.
- Where possible, choose a menu that has both sweet & savoury options.
- Does the menu have items that go beyond the ordinary afternoon tea fare? Remember, a High Tea is supposed to be an elegant affair so guests will expect more than simply plain scones with jam and cream!
- Does your venue have a cancellation policy if you need to cancel?
- Most venues require final numbers and payment up to a week before your event. Keep this in mind when setting the date so you allow enough time to sell your tickets or organise your guests.
- Consider adding something extra to your event such as a guest speaker, fashion parade, make-up station etc.
- To encourage guests to mingle and socialise, choose a venue that has space to move around and between tables.
- Lucky Door Prizes and gifts for each guest are lovely additions to a High Tea event. You could work with local businesses to put together goody bags with discount vouchers and samples for each guest. Other ideas are handmade gifts such as bookmarks, or a nicely wrapped chocolate at each place setting.
- Communication with your venue can sometimes make or break your event. For example, if you need to cater to specific dietary requirements make sure you advise your venue as early as possible. The same can be said for guest numbers – you cannot expect to turn up on the day and tell staff to cater to an extra ten spaces! Confirm details regularly with your venue manager to ensure smooth sailing on the day.
Most importantly of all to consider when hosting your special High Tea event is that as host, you enjoy yourself as much as your guests!
Do you have some extra tips to add to our list? Drop a comment below and share your experiences…