Ten Teatime Etiquette Tips from Lisa Richey

A buffet is set with trays of small dishes perfect for teatime, with a background of white roses displayed in silver vases.

  1. As a hostess, how can I create a lovely environment for afternoon tea?

Some of our best memories are marked not by things but by experiences. To bring the atmosphere you envision to your afternoon tea, one of the best things to do is add fresh flowers to the table. They make everything feel special—even if it’s just a sprig of azalea cut from your yard. Any flower arrangement signifies that you took a moment to add that extra touch and that you care.

  1. What types of food should I serve? How should they be displayed? In what order should they be eaten?

The dishes can be displayed on platters or a tiered tray. If the latter, the order from bottom to top, served first to last, should be finger sandwiches, followed by scones, and culminating with desserts. Traditionally, scones are served with butter—which should be room temperature—or clotted cream and lemon curd. There is so much room for creativity within these, whether replacing scones with miniature muffins or including morsels such as deviled eggs and skewered fruit.

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