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Business Etiquette Tips: Hosting A High Tea

By Sapna Chheda

Ever get fed-up of organizing formal dinners and social gatherings? Do you want to entertain people but still have a relaxed time? Well, then there’s no better way to do that than with a high tea.

Traditional Afternoon High Tea

A high tea is generally hosted in the afternoons or any hour of the day accompanied with some tea and light snacks. It can be casual or formal.

There are no set rules on how to host a high tea, but if you have never hosted one, here are some etiquette tips to turn your ordinary afternoon into an amazing one.

  • High Tea History

Centuries ago, high tea was popularly known as ‘low tea’ and was associated with the working class. Heavy supper was served early in the evenings on low tables hence was termed as low tea.

The concept became popular as afternoon tea in mid-1800s by the Duchess of Bedford where she invited friends over for tea and snacks. Soon the idea started gaining popularity among rich and elite ladies and became a favourite ritual with them.

After it was adopted by high-class socialites it was called the ‘high tea.’ But today, high tea is just not limited to the elite class. Anyone who wishes to have a fun filled afternoon can easily host one a high tea, afternoon tea or even just a tea party.

  • Whom To Invite

It is totally the host’s choice whom to invite for the high tea. Your girlfriends, colleagues, cousins or people whom you feel comfortable and relaxed with can be invited.

The agenda is to have an easy going afternoon in the company of people whom you enjoy being with. It is not necessary it has to be limited to women only. Many men enjoy a high tea as well.

A Sunday afternoon tea party can be a brilliant idea when you want to entertain your husband’s friends without being burdened to host an entire dinner. High tea in the West could also include a barbeque, or barbeque lunch extending to tea.

  • Formal or Casual

Most of the times, it is a casual affair. So even if it is casual, make it pleasant and elegant. Simple things like placing few flowers in a glass vase on the centre of the table can give that special touch.

Select yellow, pink, lavender or white flowers as they are feminine and more soothing during the day. High Tea is the perfect time to remove your chinaware or the tea pot set which you have been waiting to use.

Make arrangements for every guest to have a place to sit whereby the guests can help themselves with the already served buffet. You can place the plates and cups for each guest on the table mats with a matching serviette neatly folded.

Tie the napkin with a ribbon matching to the colour of your cutlery or the flowers placed in the centre. You can also use beautiful embellished napkin holders giving warmth and elegant feel with the cutlery. Play some light background music to set the mood.

  • Tantalize Their Taste Buds

The point of a high tea afternoon is to spend quality time with your guests. So choose food that can be prepared earlier and served on the table, without you having to run back and forth to the kitchen to heat it.

• Finger food like some cheese and vegetable sandwiches made in white or brown bread, chips n dips, canapés, mini burgers, tarts, cookies and shortbreads gives you enough choices to select a menu for your tea party.

• Keep enough vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.

• Make sure the tea is brewed fresh and served hot. Offering choices of tea like herbal tea, black tea, assam tea, lemon tea, the classic Indian masala tea gives your guests the comfort to choose what they like.

• Set a tray with cream and sugar separately to accommodate the preferences of your guests.

• Offer an option for coffee for those who do not drink tea. If it is a hot afternoon, you can also make iced teas and cold coffees.

Sometimes, guests suggest making something and getting it along. Out of courtesy it is considered polite to arrange for everything yourself. There is not much to arrange anyway.

  • Indoors or Outdoors

If you have a terrace or a garden where you can entertain, certainly opt for that depending on the weather. If weather is sunny, but breezy and cool enough put out some shed umbrellas on the tables for the comfort of your guests. If you’re aware that your guests are more comfortable indoors, give preference to that.

  • What Outfit To Wear

It is an afternoon to feel good so dress up a bit and be presentable before your guests arrive. Sunny casuals and smart linens are ideal both for indoor and outdoor wear. Include fancy head gear and eye gear if you are outdoors.

  • Be the Perfect Host

With everything in place now, it is time to be the perfect host. Welcome and greet each and every guest personally. Introduce your guests to each other if they are meeting for the first time.

Initiate topics and steer the conversations to more general ones so everyone can participate. Make sure that every guest is comfortable.

  • Thanking Your Guests

Thank each and every guest for taking out time and visiting. Mention that you had an enjoyable afternoon and are looking forward to more.

You can include a small gift depending on the occasion, especially if it for a baby shower. A personalized thank you note is considered thoughtful.





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