Host your own afternoon tea

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Have friends and family over for luxurious treats and long chats. Here are some accessories and tableware to make it feel special

Bamboo serving tray, IKEA (€13)

Afternoon tea is a brilliant excuse to indulge in some sweet treats, elaborate sandwiches, and endless cups of tea with your nearest and dearest. While doing so in the setting of a beautiful hotel is always a joy, you can recreate the experience at home pretty easily. This is a lovely idea for family members who are still trying to limit their time out in public, or is a lovely ritual to start with friends, where you all take turn as host.

First things first of course is the food. The first course, or bottom tier of your cake stand, should be sandwiches. The variety is all part of the fun, and usually an afternoon tea menu will include four different sandwiches. Opt for one veggie, one chicken, one red meat and one fish sandwich. Cucumber sandwiches are a must, and a cheddar ploughman’s or egg mayo sandwich will please anyone. Coronation chicken is an afternoon tea favourite, as is a zesty mayo chicken sandwich. A pastrami sandwich or simple roast beef is a hearty option, or of course you could make a fancy ham and cheese too. Smoked salmon or prawn sandwiches are perfect for afternoon tea too.

Scones are an essential, and we would go with this failsafe recipe. Make sure to have real butter, Irish jam and cream too.

For the top layer, the world is your oyster. Stock up on treats at your local bakery, make a delicious sponge or cupcakes, or ask your guests to each bring along a bake for you all to share. No one will say no to a few good biscuits too!

As for the tea, keep it simple with everyone’s favourite (Barry’s or Lyons, is up to you) or else go for an elegant earl grey, or something light and sweet like a flavoured chamomile. And if it’s a special occasion, make it a sparkling afternoon tea with some bubbles too.

How you serve your afternoon tea matters. A three tier stand is ideal, but there’s nothing wrong with platters in the centre of the table instead. Teacups and saucers are authentic, but perhaps the benefit of afternoon tea at home is that you can choose a big solid mug instead. Here are some ideas:

Afternoon tea at home:

V&A Alice in Wonderland cake stand, Next (€53)

Atrium teapot, Arnotts (€43.20)

Teacup and saucer set, Arnotts (€31.16)

Emma Bridgewater mug, Emma Shipley (€26)

Alice in Wonderland teaset, Brown Thomas (items sold individually)

Watercolour floral side plate, Marks & Spencer (€9.50)
Side plate, April & The Bear (€14)