Happy new year and welcome back to ESB’s A Baker’s Diary. I hope you all had a lovely festive period and are ready for another exciting year of tuneful baking! If you haven’t had a chance to read my latest post – the recipe for my Chocolate Orange Strips – you can click here to find the perfect homemade present for any occasion.
Today, I want to share with you my Top 10 tips for a Birthday ‘Afternoon Tea’ Party.
Throwing a party of any sort is always an undertaking. From inviting guests to come, creating and buying the food and drink to clearing up afterwards. But choosing the right choice of bakes for an afternoon tea – sweet or savoury – might seem an impossible task with any number of recipes and inspiration to be found online.
However, with the right tips and tricks up your sleeve, it won’t seem such an impossible task. I have discovered these tips through experience, as I helped to put together my granny’s birthday party in October, and wished someone else had passed them onto me before I started. Hopefully, they will help some of you to avoid the mistakes I made and make your next party a huge success!
To accompany my tips, here is my cover of ‘If I knew you were coming, I’d have baked a cake’ to get you in the baking party mood!
Without further ado, here are my Top 10 tips for a birthday ‘afternoon tea’ party…
No. 1 : Ask the question
Ask the guest of honour, whose birthday is being celebrated, what they would especially like to eat and drink – it’s no good if you have an idea and it doesn’t add up to what they want! Jot down how many people are going to come – give or take – so you can plan ahead.
No. 2 : Try to cater for everyone
Check among the guests whether they have any allergies or intolerances. To avoid anyone feeling left out, try to offer at least one thing that each guest can enjoy to feel part of the party.
No. 3 : Variety is the spice of life
Choose different treats – sweet and savoury – to tempt your guests. From chocolate crispy cake to jam topped scones, sausage rolls to cheese straws, make sure there are a good variety of bakes to choose from (see my sample menu below for inspiration!)
No. 4 : Trusted and true
Choose bakes you know well and that have worked well for you in the past. This isn’t the occasion to try out that new bake you saw in a magazine because you never know whether it will work and will only pile on extra pressure.
No. 5 : Divide and conquer
Plan what you want to bake and what you want to buy for your party. Make a list, and if possible, rope in some willing friends to help you with pre-party preparations.
No. 6 : Don’t panic, plan!
To avoid panic in the run-up to the party, work out the time you have free and plan when you are going to bake your contribution. Working out the free time you have allows you to get on with your daily tasks without worrying about when you are going to get your baking done. Get all the ingredients you need out of the cupboard and check you have everything you need before you start baking so you can get any last bits and pieces before you bake.
No. 7 : Buy some, bake some
The party will not be improved for your guests if you spend every hour before the party running around like a headless chicken baking everything from scratch. Instead, buy some good quality additions to add to the homemade selections to pad out the spread. For drinks, simplicity is the key – choose 1 or 2 options for guests to choose from including a soft drink option, if you are serving alcohol. Don’t forget to buy other bits you might need – such as napkins and cocktail sticks!
No. 8 : The early bird catches the worm…
Arrive at your party location early to give you plenty to set up without being in rush. Before guests start arriving, work out timing on bakes that need to be warmed up in the oven before the party starts. Divide up the preparation between as many people as you can to make it happen faster. Even make a production line to speed up the process further.
No. 9 : The Layout
Lay all the bakes you have buffet style on a table lined with a pretty tablecloth that is easily accessible. Then your guests can pick at what they would like to eat and you don’t have to spend the party passing plates around.
No. 10 : Make it look the part
Use the prettiest plates, napkins, and china you can get your hands on. The food you have made may be tasty but it needs to look good too!
To get your creative juices flowing, here is a sample menu of what you could serve to your guests…
My Sample Menu (for 20 people)
- An 8 inch centrepiece celebration cake (here is the link to my cricket novelty cake recipe that can be adapted to a number of other square designs including the present design I made above!)
- 24 scones (2 batches of 12) – finished with strawberry jam, clotted cream and a raspberry on top
- 2 plates of shop-bought blinis (48 in total) topped with smoked salmon, crème fresh and a sprig of dill
- 45 shop-bought sausage rolls
- 2 small packets of shop-bought cocktail sausages
- 1 batch of flapjacks (12 pieces)
- 12 chocolate crispy cakes
- 1 batch of brownies (12 pieces)
Let me know if you want a write up of any of these recipes, and I’ll jot them down for you here on my blog!
Thank you for popping by my blog and I hope that some of my tips will help you plan and perfect your next party!
See you next time for another tuneful baking post but in the meantime,
English Singing Baker x