To plan a Kitchen Tea is a lovely way to include friends and family of all ages, from the little flower girls to the elderly ladies. This needn’t be a formal affair and could take place in a home, a pretty garden or formal venue. It is usually the responsibility of a sister, friend or bridesmaid to arrange the Kitchen Tea and we have listed a few ideas to get you started.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a kitchen tea?
- 2 Can you have a kitchen tea and a hen’s night?
- 3 Are there any alternatives to kitchen tea?
- 4 Here are a few tips to get started on the kitchen tea planning:
- 5 What games and activities can you have at a kitchen tea?
- 6 Kitchen tea theme ideas
What is a kitchen tea?
A kitchen tea is similar to a bridal shower. It is essentially a pre-wedding celebration in which women who are friends with or related to the bride will gather together, traditionally at the bride or her mother’s home, and celebrate her upcoming wedding with games, food and drink.
Traditionally, a kitchen tea suggests that guests may bring the bride a gift for the kitchen so they can assist her in setting up her marital kitchen/home. However, in a modern context, many brides have lived away from home for a period of time, or they may already live with their future spouse and have therefore acquired all the necessary items for their home. In this context, the focus of a kitchen tea is more about celebrating with loved ones and playing some games, as opposed to an emphasis on gift-giving.
Can you have a kitchen tea and a hen’s night?
To put it simply, yes. A bride may choose to have both or have neither, or she may just pick one – it is ultimately up to the bride.
Some brides may even choose to host both a kitchen tea and hen’s party on the same day or weekend. The bride’s older relatives or friends that don’t want to go out in the evening may prefer to attend the kitchen tea, and any guests who can’t make it to both events can choose which celebration suits them.
We have the ultimate list of Melbourne Hens Ideas for you to choose from. From traditional to creative to sophisticated, we have you covered.
Are there any alternatives to kitchen tea?
A bridal shower is an alternative to a kitchen tea, as the events are quite similar in nature but not traditionally the same. The slight difference being that kitchen teas are traditionally more focused on helping the bride set up her marital kitchen. In contrast, the origin of a bridal shower relates to ‘showering’ the bride with gifts for her entire home, as well as items for the bride herself.
Many brides may create a gift registry for their bridal shower too so that they can provide their guests with some gift suggestions. Modern brides may choose to have either event or have both and a hen’s party, which is perfectly fine too.
Check out our post on Who should pay for hens night?
Here are a few tips to get started on the kitchen tea planning:
Set up an action plan
Before you start putting together the plans for the kitchen tea, hold a meet-up with the bridesmaids and the bride’s mother. This meeting will be centred around the kitchen tea plans, where you will delegate tasks to help take all the responsibility and strain off you and distribute it among the bridal team.
You will also need to set a date, plan a budget and activity list, and put together a gift registry to guide your guests.
Put together the guest list
Plan your guest list carefully, as the people who you invite will need to have a close connection with the bride-to-be. You cannot invite someone to the kitchen tea which isn’t invited to the wedding. Ask the bride’s mother or the groom for a list of the wedding guests and their contact details so that you can personally get in touch with each of them.
Do not make the mistake of inviting someone to the kitchen tea, which has not been invited to the wedding. (Yes, this has happened, and it creates a very embarrassing situation for the bride and the guest.) Ask the bride’s mother, the groom or her chief bridesmaid for a list of the wedding guests and their email addresses and/or phone numbers. Once you’ve sent out the invitations, follow up on guests who’ve forgotten to RSVP, so you are certain how many guests to cater for.
Start by sending out a ‘save the date’ email or text message so that everyone is aware of the event, and so that they can put it into their diaries.
Once you’ve finally sent out the invitations, follow up with guests who have forgotten to RSVP in the initial stages. This will give you a rough idea of the number of people who you will need to cater for. Whether it’s at a restaurant or your house, make sure that you’ve planned ahead and organised with the relevant people about food and catering.
To surprise or not to surprise
Depending on the type of person she is, decides on whether the kitchen tea is going to be a surprise or not. Some people absolutely despise not knowing what is going on, while others love a pleasant surprise. If the decision is that it is a surprise, make sure that you emphasise this in all invitations.
Decide upfront whether it is to be a surprise party or not. (Some people absolutely detest surprises, and others love them, so check in with her mother and besties before you make your decision.) If it is to be a surprise, ensure you emphasise this in all party correspondence (emails, invitations, etc.) right from the word go.
Decorate according to a theme or colour scheme
Usually, the ‘vibe’ and colour scheme you choose for the kitchen tea is directly aligned with the wedding decorations. However, it is entirely up to you what to plan. Make sure that whatever you decide to do will be something that the bride would like. The decor and theme colours will also guide the gift list.
The fun idea is to find out what the bride’s favourite Le Creuset colour is, and then create your colour scheme accordingly. This will also help with gift choices.
Set the scene for an indulgent high tea with a beautifully decorated table. Ask everyone to bring their food contributions on white or cream platters (so they don’t detract from the decorations), lay the dining table with a white tablecloth and then use flowers, napkins, bunting, balloons and other pretty decor items to create pops of colour in your chosen colour scheme. Use Le Creuset cake stands for height and colour-coded ramekins for interest.
Tip: if your party has a one-colour theme, choose your menu to match. For example, for a pink-themed party, choose pink icing for cupcakes, a berry pavlova, pink bubbly, a bowl of seedless red grapes or strawberries, and so on.)
Food, food, food!
If you’ve decided to have the kitchen tea at a local coffee shop or restaurant, you will just need to decorate the tables. However, if it’s at your home, the decorations tend to be more extravagant.
When it comes to the food at a restaurant, try and set up a basic menu of two or three dishes that your guests may order from. And, if it’s at your home, try and put together a variety of sweet and savoury treats.
For coffee lovers, you could set up a beverage bar that includes a Nestle Alegria machine for guests to help themselves.
Delegate, delegate, delegate! You do not have to cook everything yourself just because you’re organising the kitchen tea. If you’re not a foodie, get one of the guests with culinary flair to draw up the menu (or make sure the organising committee does this), so you don’t end up with mismatched food or too much of one thing. Try to balance a good spread of savoury eats and sweet treats.
Once you’ve decided on the menu and quantities, create an online spreadsheet to send to all the guests who’ve accepted the kitchen-tea invitation. Ask them to fill in their names next to the item they are volunteering to contribute. Hint: if there are special items you need (for example, urns, extra teapots, coffee presses, ice buckets, platters and cake stands, special colour-coded napkins or paper serviettes, etc.), add them to the spreadsheet too so that all the guests can help out as much as they wish to.
Fruit punches, homemade lemonade, tea to wine spritzers and champagne. The details are all about how you want to celebrate. Remember, this one is usually about sharing your wedding planning with family members, not a last boozy night out. That doesn’t mean it has to be a No Alcohol affair, but it is usually a more placid fun day, laughing with those closest to you.
Food-wise, it again depends on where you host the occasion. At little Ginger, you can self-cater or choose from our catering packages. If you host it at another venue or restaurant you will need to check details on what is on offer. Self-catering doesn’t have to be all about homemade sandwiches and sweet treats, and you may decide to seek assistance from a local patisserie as well as family members providing assistance. In general, think of a High Tea type arrangement of food, with a mix of savoury and sweet treats.
Arrange some extra help on the domestic front so even if you’re the hostess you’ll be able to join in the fun instead of constantly having to boil the kettle and refill teapots. Add a sentence to the menu spreadsheet along the lines of: “Calling all reluctant cooks: we’ll have two lovely ladies helping us, so if you’d prefer to contribute cash towards their wages instead of a platter of snacks, then bring some money on the day – thanks!” This is an understated way to get guests to contribute according to their means, capacity and strengths.
We’ve got inspired gift ideas for everyone from a young bride who is starting out in her first home to the consummate entertainer who has it all. If the bride would like to choose her own kitchen-tea gifts, why don’t you suggest to her that she creates a gift registry at Le Creuset? This takes the guesswork out of choosing presents she will love and treasure – plus she will easily be able to exchange colours and sizes if necessary. Note that it is increasingly popular for guests to club together to treat the bride to an indulgent heirloom item, especially if she already has a well-equipped kitchen.
Other things to consider
Once you’ve planned the date, sent out the invitations and started gathering the decorations, you can properly plan the food and drinks for the event. On the day, make sure the kitchen tea team arrives at least two hours earlier to set up the tables and decorations for the exciting event.
What games and activities can you have at a kitchen tea?
The games at a kitchen tea tend to be less raunchy than at a hen’s night, but some of them can be quite similar. A popular game played at kitchen tea parties is to quiz the guests to see how well they know the bride, with questions about her childhood, her likes and dislikes, and even her future spouse. Another popular game involves asking each guest to write some words of wisdom/marriage advice on a sticky note, and the notes are collected for the bride to keep and read through.
Games can also be a little more hands-on, such as breaking your guests off into small teams and getting each group to adorn a chosen guest in a makeshift wedding dress made from toilet paper. Adult versions of children’s games work well at kitchen teas too; try ‘pass the parcel’ with elegant wrapping and the prizes can be anything from lip gloss to potato peelers, a journal or planner, or even a recipe book.
Kitchen tea theme ideas
Many modern brides are opting to apply a theme to their kitchen tea party, or host the event in a non-traditional location such as a park, or even hire a venue depending on the amount of guests they invite. Here are a few creative kitchen tea ideas:
‘Mad Hatter’ tea party
Host a kitchen tea party in a garden with a theme such as ‘Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea Party’. You can set up a long table with an array of classic high tea items such as scones with jam and cream, and play on the theme with mismatched crockery and tea sets! Even go a little step further and ask everyone to wear a hat or dress up.
Host a kitchen tea with a floral theme – you can ask guests to arrive wearing something floral, or perhaps just a colour the bride likes. You can decorate the space with bunches of fresh flowers and even have flower crowns made for guests to wear and hand them out as the guests arrive.
Traditionally a kitchen tea is held in a home; however, modern brides are opting to host a kitchen tea in whatever location suits them. An outdoors kitchen tea idea could be a picnic at a local park – or simply in the bride’s backyard.
Ask guests to each bring a dish or a bottle of wine. You can sprawl out on the grass with dozens of picnic blankets, and share and enjoy cheese, fruits and wine with all your nearest and dearest. Even go a step further and arrange for an outdoor cinema to screen a movie for your guests as the festivities are winding down.
Head to a rooftop, or a venue which boasts nice views, and enjoy the scenery while you and your guests have some yummy food and drinks to celebrate your upcoming nuptials.
If you love to cook, you could host a kitchen tea party with a theme of cooking and food. You can ask your guests to each bring their favourite recipe. Go and step further and organise to have a group cooking class on the day and plan lots of kitchen related games.
Although none of these tips is ground-breaking, most people will not even consider that there might be an alternative to their habitual bad practices. Just remember, for some of the guests it might sound foreign – they either do not know how damaging their consumption patterns are or in some sad cases, they simply do not care. So approach the whole situation delicately and gently. Explain where necessary, but for the most part, do not make a scene. Give the arrangements through as if it is the most natural thing in the world, and hopefully, the guests will fall in line.
As mentioned, this event is a festive moment for the bride-to-be. It’s not supposed to cost you an arm and a leg, but if you cannot afford to put something together without the help of others, you may certainly ask your guests for a contribution. Food, decorations, gifts and beverages do get pricey, so the last thing you want is to cut costs because you can’t afford to host the event.
Make sure you have a photographer who is capturing all the precious moments, and when your guests arrive, inform them about the day’s events and how each activity will run. Last but not least, have fun and enjoy the special day!