VirginiaLynne is a mother of five. She writes about parenting, crafts, and games for children, family fun, and Christian ministry ideas.
Tea Party Ideas
Tea parties are a fun daily activity in my house, so we've developed lots of easy and quick foods that kids can make themselves. Transform an everyday snack time into something special!
Easy Kid's Tea Party Drinks
Drinks: Sometimes my kids do like to have real tea, but usually they prefer:
- Chocolate Milk: having milk with chocolate powdered mix (we use the hot chocolate mix usually) to mix in.
- Lemonade: use Kool-Aid or make with real lemons.
- Decaf Tea with cream and sugar cubes.
- Fruit Juice like apple juice or orange juice.
Fun Tea Party Snacks
Food: Here are some of our favorite recipes, they are all made from things I usually have around the kitchen:
- Butterfly sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches cut into triangles and made like butterflies, put sprinkles on top, and use something straight like Cheetos or pretzels or celery sticks for antennae)
- Sugared Jell-O grapes: These are really fun and kids like to make them. You take grapes off of the stems. Pour a little Jell-O (any flavor) into a plastic dish. Drop in the grapes and roll them around. They will be covered with the Jell-O, which will become crusty and tasty. You can also try this with other fruits. I first saw this at an adult wedding shower!
- Marshmallow cakes Take large marshmallows and put a little peanut butter or frosting on top and then dip in sprinkles. You can also dip the marshmallows in melted chocolate and decorate. My kids like to do with mini-marshmallows too!
- Banana wheels: Peel a banana and cut it into one-inch slices (kids can do this with a kitchen knife or even a plastic one). Next, dip a pretzel stick in peanut butter. Put the pretzel in the middle of the banana slice. When you've done that to all of the slices, put a few sprinkles on top or use the pretzel to roll the edges in sprinkles. This is one of my kid's very favorite treats and we make it almost every day!
- Cheese and Meat Stacks: Put crackers and cheese cubes with pepperoni on a plate and let the kids stack them up to eat. You can also put a slice of ham and cheese together, roll them up and then cut in slices and hold in place with a pretzel stick or toothpick.
- Fruit: Cut up whatever fruit you have into small pieces. Good fruits to use are pineapple cubes, mandarin oranges, apple slices, blueberries, or strawberries. You can serve these with a dipping sauce like yogurt, caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or peanut butter.
- Popcorn: plain, kettle, butter, or our favorite: covered with melted chocolate. To make chocolate popcorn you melt about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or 1 square of candy chocolate in the microwave for one minute. Next, mix the melted chocolate with 1 bag of microwave popped corn (be sure to take out unpopped kernels). If you want, you can color white chocolate or add sprinkles after you coat with chocolate. To harden the popcorn a little, put it in the freezer for 3-5 minutes.
- Frosted Popcorn or Cereal: Even faster than making Rice Crispy treats! Melt about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of frosting in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds, stir, then pour on a bag of popcorn. Mix around and then put in the freezer for 3 minutes to harden. Add sprinkles if you want!
- Vanilla Wafer or Graham Cracker Cakes: My kids love to make their own "cakes" for the tea party using vanilla wafers, graham crackers, or any other little cakes or cookies I have around. They put a little frosting on the top with plastic knives, then decorate these with sprinkles, M & M's chocolate chips, mini-marshmallows, or any other leftover candies I have on hand.
- Octopus Hot Dogs: Cut hot dogs about 2/3 of the way up so that they have at least 4 pieces (see picture). Put them in boiling water and these will curl up. Serve with a little ketchup for the eyes.
- Regular Snack Foods: Anything your kids would normally eat for a snack or a meal can probably be turned into party food! Consider how you can "dress it up" by cutting it into smaller portions, putting on a few sprinkles, adding some cinnamon sugar, or arranging it to look like a face on a plate.
Creative Party Tips
Plastic Tea Sets are great, but they often can't go into the dishwasher, so they take a little more cleaning up. However, that can be part of the fun and also a teaching time as kids learn to carry their tea things to the sink and wash them. We have several inexpensive plastic tea sets and my kids enjoyed mixing and matching them for their party.
Washing Up: When our kids were very young, we gave them a bowl at the table or on the floor to wash their cups and pot. Then they could dry them and put them away.
Glass Sets: For kids that are a little bit older, you might want to purchase a glass tea set or give them some leftover dishes you have. You might even look for some dishes at a thrift store or Grandma's. The glass dishes can be washed in the dishwasher, which makes it easier for mom. Kids can still learn to pick up their things and take them to the dishwasher, and later put them away. I like the fact that I'm able to use this playtime activity to help teach friends how to clean up their messes too.
Use Leftover Party Supplies: I also save leftover birthday napkins and plates for tea parties. The kids love using these special plates, and it does make clean-up easier. Sometimes, when a friend is over, we will even take out extra balloons, crepe paper, and other decorations to get ready for the party. The friends love being able to have a spontaneous "party" on a regular play date.
Go Outside! One of my favorite ways to have my kids host a tea party with friends it to send them outside! We pack all their things in a basket with a blanket. They go outside and have a picnic party. They put everything back in the basket to clean up. It is a wonderful way to encourage kids to spend time outside and enjoy nature.
My favorite way to easily "dress up" the food is to put it into paper cupcake or candy containers. You can just use the plain ones you get at the grocery store or buy a few of the fancier ones for special cupcakes. In fact, this idea was how I presented all the food for the girls at my oldest daughter's "Sweet 16" birthday. All the girls loved the fact that the cupcake holders made everything look grown-up and fancy.
Teaching Manners and Hospitality
Hosting a tea party for kids is a great way to teach manners as well as simple cooking techniques. By having their snack as a “party,” kids learn to co-operate in setting the table, making the food, and cleaning up. When they have friends over, they also learn how to be a host and make other people feel welcome and included at their home. Sometimes, my girls love to take out my silver, polish it, and use that for their party. Since some of the pieces are heirlooms from my mother, that helps them to connect to our family's past.
Another reason I spent the time to let my children turn snack time into a tea party is that I found it helped develop their imagination. My four girls can pretend they are princesses or fancy ladies out to lunch. Often, my girls and their friends put on dress-up clothes for the party, complete with feather boas, high heels, gowns, and tiaras. Or they enjoy hosting a party for their stuffed animals. I love to encourage them to create a story and play-act it out as they go along. Even now, my high school daughter, who is in theater, loves to do improv situations with her friends while having tea.
Build Family Memories
Mostly, have fun and let your kids be creative. They may want to spend the morning decorating construction paper placemats, hanging decorations, or concocting some special food for the party. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but even as a teenager, my son enjoyed having tea with his sisters. Our regular parties have built up a lot of fun family memories. I hope they build a lot of memories for you too!
Hannah Heath from Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 21, 2012:
This totally brings me back to my childhood! I nanny durring the summer so I can't wait to try some of these ideas with the three girls next summer, they are big tea party fans!