Mom deserves the best every day, but especially on Mother’s Day. We can show her just how much she means to us in so many ways. Beautiful flowers of all types are a given. You can also give Mom a fantastic gift basket filled with all her favorites, from chocolates and wine to incredible fruit, cheeses, and so much more.

But if you’re looking to treat Mom to something a bit more experiential, then why not throw her a fantastic tea party?

“A tea party is a perfect way to celebrate and honor any mom,” says Tricia Kaczmarek, owner of Southern California event planning company Rent A Tea Party. “There’s just something special about being surrounded by pretty things: elegant china, beautiful flowers, and lush linens. Plus, it’s a time to relax, sip tea, talk for hours, and be around your loved ones — what could be better?”

Afternoon tea is the perfect occasion to celebrate Mom, says Angela Renals, founder of Destination Tea, an online directory of afternoon tea locations in the United States. “It’s a slow, luxurious meal in a beautiful setting with sumptuous teas and homemade treats that she neither has to prepare nor clean up after — it’s an incredible way to express gratitude for all she does throughout the year!”

7 steps to throwing a Mother’s Day tea party

Select a theme

Planning a great Mother’s Day tea party begins with picking a theme, says Barbara Leone, creator of Mantle and Table, a site dedicated to all kinds of entertaining, including tea parties.

“It’s great to have a theme to make things easier and more cohesive,” she says. “Your theme could be anything: your mom’s favorite color, or a particular flower she likes that’s in bloom. If she loves Disney, bike riding, or horses, you could choose any one of these ideas to plan around.”

Girls and mom having a tea party outside.

Inside parties vs. outside

With your theme in mind, start to think about how you might bring your event to life.

“Tea parties can happen anywhere!” says Rebecca Czarniecki, owner of Tea with Mrs. B, a special event space in Washington, D.C. “A tea seated indoors is the most formal, followed by tea seated outdoors, picnic, or buffet style. For a whimsical mom who likes minimal fuss, a picnic-style tea on a blanket in the park is just as lovely.”

MORE: How to Plan a Picnic

“Since the party will be in honor of your mother, you’ll want to consider her comfort and enjoyment above all else,” Leone advises. “If she loves to run around outside, then a backyard or woodland picnic would be just the thing.

Setting up

Your tea party essentials should be as formal or as casual as the mom you’re celebrating. Pick what you’ll use based on the vibe you know she enjoys best, says Janet Walsh, founder of Tea Tea and Company and National Afternoon Tea Month (which happens to be April).

“For a more formal tea, you’ll need a tablecloth, colorful table accouterments, fresh flowers, tiered cake stands, antique tea wares, place settings, centerpieces, a teacup for each guest, a set of milk and sugar containers, teaspoons for stirring, napkins, small spoons and spreaders, and tea lights.”

For a more casual tea, pare down that list accordingly. At minimum, each guest should have a teacup and saucer, teaspoon, small plate, and utensils. Plus, to ensure you have plenty of hot water, plan for at least two teapots for every 10 guests.

Elevating your event

“Fresh flowers always add elegance and beauty to a tea table,” Renals advises. “Using a teapot as a vase is a creative way to make a fantastic centerpiece. If you have it, bring out the good china — especially if it has been passed down from a grandmother. The family tea set is perfect for a Mother’s Day tea.”

“You could have an entirely mismatched set of china and throw a gorgeous tea party,” Czarniecki adds. “It’s all about the effort put into the details. Reach for fun napkins, cloth or paper. Put out plenty of flowers. Look for overlooked pieces in the home — small sculptures, framed photos, and other sweet keepsakes — and let these little treasures have their day in the sun!”

Creating your drink menu

If your mom has a favorite tea, make sure to feature it. Beyond that, Kaczmarek recommends offering at least three tea options: “A black caffeinated tea, like lavender Earl Grey; a decaf tea, like chamomile; and a flavored herbal fruit tea, like a strawberry or hibiscus tea.”

“You can choose to serve your tea in teabags, or as loose-leaf tea,” adds Candi Elm, creator of the tea-centric recipe, event, and educational site A Day in Candiland. “Most tea connoisseurs prefer loose-leaf tea. It’s also nice to provide lemon slices, honey, sugar or stevia, and milk for use with black teas.”

Whichever tea you choose, serve it hot and brewed to perfection.

MORE: The Art of Making a Cup of Tea

“I also love to have some bubbly with my afternoon tea, which some call ‘Royal Tea,’” Leone says. “A signature mimosa can be a special extra touch that your guests, and Mom, will remember for a long time. It’s also a great excuse to toast your mother on her special day!”

Tea party munchies

“Your Mother’s Day menu can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like,” says Daveyva Garcia, owner of Blooming Arrow, an event planning company in Northern Virginia that specializes in tea parties and vintage rentals. “Just keep in mind that all food should be bite-sized and easy to handle.”

Tea party treats on a 3 tiered tray.

A traditional afternoon tea consists of three courses: tea sandwiches, followed by scones or small baked goods, and then sweets. The proper etiquette to serve them on a three-tiered tray, Walsh says, is to put sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle, and sweets, such as small cakes or candies, on the top. “If you have a large party or a small table, then serve the food buffet-style in your living room or garden and have your guests stand or sit.”

For a traditional three-course afternoon tea, Renals and Elm suggest three or four tea sandwiches like cucumber, egg salad, chicken salad, smoked salmon, or prosciutto and Brie; mini quiches, two types of scones with clotted (thickened) cream, jam, and lemon curd; and mini desserts such as lemon bars, mini cheesecakes, shortbread cookies, or cupcakes. And feel free to add a starter course like soup or salad, or a slice of cake for dessert.

Finally, and most important, make the party about Mom

Throwing a fabulous Mother’s Day tea party doesn’t have to be a big to-do just as long as you make Mom’s day special. 

“A beautifully wrapped gift and decorated chair to sit in, or even a Mother’s Day crown, won’t hurt,” says Leone.

Renals recommends taking a group photo. “A Mother’s Day tea creates a joyful family memory that you’ll want to capture, and perhaps frame as a gift to Mom afterward.”

Elm’s favorite tradition is to “have the guests go around the table and share a favorite memory of the guest of honor. Or, ask each guest to bring a picture of themselves with Mom and have them include a written note with that memory for her to take home and keep.”

“Tea parties are enjoying a renaissance,” Leone concludes. “It’s so much fun to do something a little different and a little elegant — to take time out from the busyness, and just sit and enjoy for a while. Especially for Mother’s Day, hosting a tea party is an extra touch of thoughtfulness and a wonderful way to let the moms in your life know how much you care about them.”

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Brian Good is a writer, editor, and project manager with more than 20 years experience in publishing. He's written for some of the country’s biggest magazine brands including Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness, US Weekly, AARP: The Magazine, and websites including Mashed, Health Digest, DiversityInc and others. Good specializes on topics including lifestyle, travel, pop culture, health, food and nutrition, spirits, products, politics, and activism.

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