Children's Birthday Tea Party

A new and excellent theme for a child's birthday, a tea party.

COST: Under $20

AGE: Girls ages 5-10

RECOMMENDED # OF GUESTS: 4-8

At my daughter's last birthday party she loved dressing up. I would hear her and her friends talking in British accents and pretending to be royalty. They had so much fun that we designed a birthday party for her around that particular theme. And it was huge success, here's are some suggestions on how to make this party idea a hit.

INVITATIONS: A creative way to deliver the invitation would be to put it in a charming yet inexpensive thrift store teacup. Or attach it to a strand of dress-up beads. When sending your invitations, encourage all party participants to come to the party in fancy play clothes.

EARLY PREPARATIONS: The night before the party make a variety of hor-d'oevres and arrange them on silver serving trays. For example, we offered Deviled Eggs, pineapple slices or cheese spread on celery sticks, tiny smoked sausages, finger sandwiches cut into different shapes. We also served raspberry sherbet with ginger ale to make a fluffy drink.

SET THE STAGE: Arrange to have the party at a public garden or park for the best scrapbook moment. A neighbors deck provides an unusual setting too. If weather won't cooperate, your dining room will work just as well with the right props.

Decorate with lots of candles, layered tablecloths (layering sheets is a frugal alternative) with sparkly confetti sprinkled on the table. Colored balloons make a fun centerpiece or if the girls don't want to wear the boa's, then coil them up in the middle of the table. This is the time to get out grandma's china, silver or crystal. If you have a small group of girls and keep the ambience formal, then even the young girls will be on their best behavior when using the nice place settings. Choose soft classical music for the background. (Remember the mood you set is what makes this party work)!

FASHION FROLICKING: Have a room for party goers to meet in as they are showing up, this would be a good time to play a gathering game, to make a take-home craft, fix each others hair, or put on their play make-up. We decided to paint on plastic steam wear and goblets to drink out of later at the tea party. Then we let the girls have several minutes of privacy for unsupervised primping and showing off their new attire. Be prepared with extra boas, hats, kid gloves, beads and baubles if some girls don't come dressed appropriately for high tea!

TEA TIME: Dress up the birthday girl's Father, Grandfather or significant other male figure in a tuxedo or suit. Drape a clean white towel over his arm to imitate a French waiter. Daddy's job is to announce the girls as they arrive and escort them to the table one by one on his arm and seat them. My husband spoke in a accent the entire party. He always referred to the girls as Madame or My Lady and waited on them hand and foot. While they were eating he would stand erect next to our daughter and inquire formally if she and her friends would care for anything else. At one lull in the girls' Tea-Talk, my husband addressed the lady of the table as to the whereabouts of the prince and would he be joining them? Without missing a beat my daughter carried on the conversational act to the delight of her friends!

Later after playing with all of the party gifts we ask our daughter what part of the party was the most fun...Daddy of course!

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