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10 Tips for Tea Party Etiquette

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My daughter is invited to a birthday tea party. I called the mom to accept the RSVP, and she stated that it was going to be a full tea. What is a full tea? Is there anything special that my daughter should know about tea party etiquette?


Tea Trivia

Dear Tea Trivia,

During "full tea", three courses are served such as scones, tea sandwiches, and sweets. "Light tea" will have just scones and sweets.

Here are some tea party etiquette tips to tell your daughter:

1. Since it is a tea party, it's okay to eat with fingers. However, if an item is particularly messy (has a runny filling), then use a fork.

2. If all the courses are laid out on the table, eat them in this order: first the scones or muffins; then the tiny sandwiches, and last the sweets. Think of it like a meal where you can start with bread, then have the main course, but save the dessert for last.

3. For scones or muffins, break off a bite-size piece, then put a small amount of jam or butter on it. If Devonshire or clotted cream is available, a small amount can be dabbed on after the jam. This thick cream is for scones, not for the tea.

4. Take bites of the tiny sandwiches. Never stuff the whole thing in their mouth, even though it's small.

5. If using sugar, be careful to not dip the sugar tong or sugar spoon into the tea.

6. Stir sugar and/or milk with their teaspoon, then place the teaspoon on their saucer.

7. When drinking the tea, they can hold the cup and saucer near their chest, then take the teacup off the saucer and bring it up to their mouth to drink.

8. If the tea is hot, leave teacup on the table to cool. Do not blow on the tea.

9. Hold the teacup normally. Do not stick the pinky out when drinking tea.

10. Hopefully, the tea will be served from teapots, rather than having individual tea bags, which can get very messy, especially with kids. If there are tea bags, then there should be a small dish at her place setting on which she can place the used tea bag.

Tell your daughter that if she forgets to do some things properly, to not worry and just have fun eating and socializing with her friends.