Keep It Simple! Do not try to simulate a posh English Afternoon Tea, with silver and all the trimmings. Most churches have the facilities and the cups and saucers, plates and spoons right on hand.
Consider Your Budget.
With the economy the way it is, many churches are suffering from low donations right now, so it may be necessary for each lady to bring one food item – half a dozen sandwiches, or some small cakes and perhaps a teapot.
Make a list, to make sure there are no duplications. Tell them the essence of an afternoon tea is not to provide a full meal! Each person should have one or two small sandwiches, a couple of slices of cake and a few cups of tea. That’ is all that will be needed.
How Many Are Coming? Make sure any interested lady signs up. You may have a system of emailing within your church, the church secretary may be happy to email members.
If you are a small church, a simple list posted on the noticeboard will suffice. Always consider any diabetics or ladies with food allergies, have a check box on the list for Diabetic/Special Requirements? and some food items can be made accordingly.
Make sure you note the day and time – and an ending time.
Ask the ladies to wear their best hats!
If your budget is small, have the ladies bring a baked item or make some sandwiches. Would You Have A Special Speaker Attend? She will be the guest of honor, of course, and not asked to bring anything! She will sit at the head of the table.
It’s best not to make place cards, let the ladies seat themselves.
What Will We Need For the Tables? First and most importantly, you will need table cloths, white or pastel preferably. If you do not have them, you can use clean white bedsheets safety pinned around the tables, leaving enough room for the ladies to slide their knees beneath! Buy some disposable table cloths and place mats if all else fails. Place mats will help absorb any accidental spills.
Provide a large paper napkin to the left of each place setting, with a fork placed on top.
Decorate the Tables. Flowers, flowers, flowers. Maybe the church has been decorated for Sunday Service. Perhaps you could use those, replacing them again for evening service if you have one. Just make sure everyone can see each other across the table.
If you don’t have any flowers, ask if there are any gardeners willing to cut a few from their gardens to bring. Perhaps you could add a card “Donated by…”, this is sure to open a line of conversation on gardening!
Light Food – Sandwiches and Small Cakes is the Key! A proper English afternoon tea will have the crusts cut off the sandwiches and arranged in an attractive display on trays or platters. If you don’t cut the crusts off, don’t worry!
The essence of this gathering is to bring your church ladies together for a relaxing hour or two, for conversation more than anything.
Teapots & China. If you have a large machine for boiling water great! (called a tea urn – but you don’t put tea in it!) Get that going. You will need one medium sized teapot between 4 ladies. You may have to ask some ladies to bring a teapot or perhaps donate one to the church kitchen.
If it is a large gathering, it’s probably easier to use good teabags, not loose tea. One bag per person per pot. If it’s too strong you can always add more hot water. If it is black tea, always make sure the water is boiling! It will not taste good if it isn’t made with boiling water.
Make sure all the teapots are washed out (not in the dishwasher) before use. Have somewhere to dump used teabags.
Then you will need a salad plate per person, a fork for eating cake, a cup and saucer and a teaspoon. Place a pitcher of milk on the table for those who take their tea with milk and some sugar and sugar substitute, and some sliced lemon.That’s pretty much it!
Stray Men! You know there’s going to be some stray men around! Hovering around the sandwiches like bees!
Tell them if they want to be fed, they must act as butlers, and if they do a good job, they can have a piece of cake!