Tips for a Downton Abbey Tea Party

By Saturday, April 25, 2015 ,

My trip to the Biltmore that I shared about here put me into quite a Downton Abbey mood. Of course, it’s rare that I’m not in such a state of mind, but the last few days, the idea of escaping to a sprawling English mansion and estate has become increasingly appealing. The closest I can get to that right now is just watching Downton Abbey again. Yes, I’m already almost finished with watching season 5 over again. I had a car ride up to the Biltmore with lots of time for it, so no judging please. But even if you don’t watch it all at once, I definitely encourage another season viewing after it’s over because it helps you catch so many things you didn’t the first time! Here we come to the point suggested in this post’s title. I’m going to offer a few tips on how to host a Downton tea party. I did this when the season 5 finale aired back in March, and it was a grand time, to say the least. It gets you just a little bit closer to the characters and all their lovely traditions. So here you are: how to put on your very own Downton Abbey tea party.

1) Actual English food
My go-to: scones. They're tasty, easy to make, and so thoroughly English! They come in all sorts of flavors too. Blueberry is my usual, and they have a delicious lemon glaze on top for a nice finishing touch. Find the recipe over here at my friend Mrs. Sherri’s blog! She knows her way around a kitchen, to say the least. Another "I'm almost in England" eatable that turned out splendidly for our party was cucumber sandwiches. We whipped this one up last minute, but they turned out great! It adds a good salty to balance the sweet. The recipe I used included spices that gave it a little kick, but it fit in just right. And where would we be without tea? Obviously, this is a must, and the more steeped, the better as far as I’m concerned. And don’t forget the milk and sugar please.

2) Decorate
I’m not saying you need to break out the plates you’d use for a four-course dinner, but a few elegant dishes, a nice tablecloth, and some candles will do wonders. It gives everything a decidedly more British flair, and it’s that much easier to imagine you’re Lady Mary Crawley when you have a china teacup in your hand. And who doesn’t want to be Lady Mary? Exactly. At my finale party with friends, my main requirements were candles and something other than the glass measuring cup to hold my scone glaze. My mom’s small crystal pitcher fit the bill perfectly, and the candles helped us imagine away the mess cooking remnants in the kitchen.

3) Split the work
The thing that was so fun about our Downton party was that it spiraled into a sophisticated event because several other people volunteered to bring things. I knew I wanted some English flair, so I baked the scones, but then someone else volunteered teacake cookies, and then another brought apple fritters and a fruit tray. When I saw how much of a thing this was becoming, I frantically searched the depths of all-knowing Pinterest for the cucumber sandwich recipe. I also found some classy printables at this wonderful blog post for further table decor. I was thoroughly pleased with the results, and it was all made so much better by how everyone chipped in so well!

Those are the main things. If you really want to get serious, maybe try period attire. Or even just a period hat. But a Downton t-shirt will do fine also, as it did for me. It seemed more logical since I’d just been making cucumber sandwiches. But naturally, you’ve gotta put on a British accent at some point in the evening. What would a Downton Abbey party be without talking posh like Lady Mary or trying to work in Lady Rose’s “Golly, what fun!” somewhere? Seems only proper, as Mr. Carson would say.

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