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How To Decorate your Tea Table

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Tea Party Decorations

Imagine your table as your canvas and by adding beautiful details like table linens, napkin rings, place cards, china, utensils, silverware, flowers, centerpieces, candles and lighting you can set the mood and theme for your tea party.  So whether you are having a formal tea party complete with elegant china cups, Victorian lace and silver tea pots or an informal country garden tea outdoors, simply adding the right accessories you can have a variety of ways of hosting your own tea parties!


Tablecloths, Place mats and runners

The tablecloth you choose will determine the mood of your table setting and will set the degree of formality of your party.  If your china is patterned with lots of flowers, choose a solid color table cloth to match and compliment the china.  I prefer solid-colored cloths, like white crisp linens, damask or cotton.  Place mats and runners can be placed on top of the table cloth or on a bare table.  They provide an extra layer of fabric and detail that can enhance your table setting. 


Napkin and Napkin Rings

Napkins come in all shapes and sizes and are an inexpensive way to change the entire look of the table.  They are so versatile and can add a splash of color and a coordinated look to your table.  For a garden tea, I like to add them in bread baskets or trays as well to coordinate with my napkins and table setting.  For each table setting, napkins can be placed on the plate, or on the left side of the plate with or without a napkin ring.  Napkin Rings are also a fun way to decorate and add another decorative touch to your table.  Napkins can be wrapped in a variety of ways, from fresh or artificial flowers, fruits, spices, dried leaves, ribbons, raffia, long stems of grass, Christmas ornaments, to the more traditional silver or gold napkin rings.


Place Cards

Place cards, like napkin rings, can take on many forms and are also optional.  For a more formal tea party, you can use embossed cards, placed on the table or in silver place card holders.  For informal parties, a piece of torn cardboard placed on the side of a pear can provide a whimsical, yet functional way for place cards.  Another easy way would be to combine the place cards with the napkin ring.  First, make a hole at one end of the place card, then string a piece of ribbon through the hole and then tie the ribbon to napkin.  Then, simply insert a fresh flower stem into the ribbon and you have an easy, functional, yet beautiful napkin ring. 


China - Plates and Tea cups

A common question I'm asked often is, does your china have to match? No! One secret to mixing an array of china patterns is to choose a common color.  Gold is a usually an easy unifying "color" used to mix various patterns.  So next time when you are out shopping, pick up some gold-rimmed pieces to add to your collection without worrying if they will match. 


Another one of my favorite and versatile color is white.  It can be a foundation for your tabletop on which you can build on and add accessories to complete your theme.  You can also mix and match various patterns of white china, porcelain and cream-ware, and still have a simple, yet elegant and soothing table setting or by adding a punch of color in your table linens, napkin rings, center pieces the table can take on a whole new vibrant look.




There are 3 types of flatware: sterling silver, silver plate and stainless steel.  The common five-piece place setting consists of salad or dessert fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, soup spoon and the teaspoon.  Silver is like the table's jewelry, adding sparkle and elegance to any setting.


Sterling Silver - Hand wrought silver is hard to find but there are a few companies who still continue using this traditional way of making silverware.  Old Newbury Crafters in Amesbury, Massachusetts is one of them.  They have been hand forging silverware for fourteen generations and these methods and skills are still used to this day.


Flowers and Centerpieces

Choosing a centerpiece is very important to convey the theme for the party as well as adding color to the table.  The centerpiece should be below eye level so that table conversations can be held around it.  Containers for flowers can be the usual vases, pots, etc. or the unexpected like soup tureens, sugar bowls, pressed glass cups, wine tubs and coolers, urns, baskets, or even a whimsical soup can.  Another idea is to hollow out fruits or vegetables, like melons and peppers and use them as flower containers. Next, the color of the flower should be used to create punch and eye appeal.  Always try to use the freshest flowers on the market and arrange them as full as possible in the container.  Remember, your centerpiece on the table will be visible from all sides so you need to make sure it looks good from all sides.


Lemon and Yellow Roses: Cut lemon into slices and line clear straight-sided bowl with overlapping lemon slices.  Put floral foam in the middle and push yellow cut roses into foam.  Add water.


Cranberries and Roses:  Fill vase halfway with cranberries, place red roses stems in center.


Kumquats and Irises:  Wrap long stems of irises with elastic band at the bottom and place in a long vase.  Put kumquats in the vase one at a time until filled.  Fill with water.


Artichokes and Cream Roses:  Scoop out middle of artichoke, place floral foam in the middle.  Push in cream roses in the foam.  Fill with some water.  Wrap artichoke with misty rose gross-grain ribbon.


Teacup Topiary:  Take a teacup and glue to the saucer with ceramic glue.  Insert floral topiary foam into the cup and secure with some floral tape.  Topiaries can be readily purchased from crafts store.  Use a glue gun to glue flower buds on the ball.  Finish off with a beautiful ribbon.


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