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How to Throw an 1800s- or Victorian-Themed Tea or Garden Party

Updated on January 27, 2017
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One of Kitty's dream jobs is to be a party planner. She finds joy in planning parties for children and adults alike!

Have your Victorian Themed Party outside in a garden setting!
Have your Victorian Themed Party outside in a garden setting! | Source
A Victorian Lawn Party might look something like this...
A Victorian Lawn Party might look something like this... | Source

Why Have a Victorian Themed Party?

There are quite a few women out there who are inevitably drawn to the femininity and daintiness of the late 1800s' Victorian style. The corsets, the big fluffy skirts, the hats, the pearls and the curls, oh my! Maybe you are one of those women. Today even young girls are attracted to the Victorian style and may think about incorporating it into a party of some kind. Perhaps the attraction to Victorian culture comes from a withdraw of feminine character and style in these modern times. Whether you are eight or eighty, the Victorian Themed Party might be the right one for you!

Though it seems a Victorian-themed party might be hard to pull off, it might be a lot easier than you imagined. You can make it as simple or as elaborate as you would like. Here I will give you ideas and tips on how to prepare for that perfect party, including decorations, costumes, food, and games. So get ready to have a lovely time, ladies!

Decor

Whether you are on a strict budget or have a good amount of money to spend on decorations, here are some ideas to get you started.

First of all, with a Victorian party, you'll want to think dainty and demure. What do I think of when I think "Victorian tea party"? The colors pink and white, lace, and roses. As you can see in the pictures below, these seem to be the motif of most Victorian-inspired parties. You'll want to make sure you have tea sets, or at least a tea set for the main table or centerpiece of some kind. A cute idea is to find small and inexpensive glass or plastic tea cups and hang them from the chandeliers. You could also make garland out of these and bunches of white lace.

Here are some quick and easy ideas for your décor:

  • Tea Sets/Tea Cups
  • Dainty Dinnerware (either china or plastic, whatever you can afford!)
  • Real and/or Fake Roses in Pitchers on Each Table
  • Fake Rose Petals Sprinkled About (you can get these from the dollar store!)
  • Linen or Plastic/Faux White Lace Tablecloths on Tables
  • Plastic Pearl Necklaces at Each Setting (you can get these cheap online or in dollar stores)
  • China/Porcelain Dolls as décor around the party area (if throwing a tea party for a little girl particularly!)
  • Victorian-Style Lamps (you can find lampshades to replace your modern ones, borrow from a friend, scour thrift stores, etc.)
  • Butterflies paper or plastic butterflies can be adhered to almost anything at a Victorian Tea / Garden Party!
  • Linen or Lace Doilies borrow your grandma's set of doilies or fancy handkerchiefs and place at each table setting.
  • Fake Vines/Vinery you can get fake ivy from the nearest craft store or order online for cheap and drape around tables and bannisters, etc. for a Victorian Garden look!
  • Photographs or Printouts of Victorian People you can borrow old photos from your family members or simply print out random photos from online, frame them, and set them up around the party area

Hanging small tea cups from a chandelier is such a lovely idea!
Hanging small tea cups from a chandelier is such a lovely idea! | Source
Put roses everywhere for a feminine touch!
Put roses everywhere for a feminine touch! | Source
What a gorgeous tea setting for the main table at a Victorian Themed Tea Party!
What a gorgeous tea setting for the main table at a Victorian Themed Tea Party! | Source

Food & Drinks

For your party, you're going to want to put a large amount of focus on the food and drinks. The menu is super important because in actual Victorian times, the women would gather around a table specifically for tea and snacks. This was the way Victorian ladies would entertain their company - by providing delicious cakes, sandwiches, etc. as well as the perfectly made cup of hot tea.

Here's some ideas for your menu:

  • Hot Tea: orange pekoe, English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Gunpowder Green, and any type of herbal tea for those who don't like green or black teas
  • small cakes / cupcakes: decorated with flowers, butterflies, teapots, etc.
  • bread and butter sandwiches: ribbon sandwiches, round sandwiches, checkerboard sandwiches (all vintage recipes can be found online very easily), cucumber sandwich
  • scones: blueberry, cranberry, etc.
  • muffins: of any kind!
  • cookies: lavender cookies, lace cookies, chocolate chip, etc.
  • fruit and cheese plates

You can find so many actual Victorian recipes online to mimic or copy completely and use for your party menu. You can be as authentic or as creative as you would like to be. If you are serving heavy foods at your party such as meat and cheese sandwiches, salads, etc. you'll want to call your Menu a "High Tea" menu, while lighter foods such as just desserts can be referred to as "Low Tea" according to Victorian custom.

Victorian Themed food should be light and sweet.
Victorian Themed food should be light and sweet. | Source
Tea is a must for any Victorian 1800s Themed Tea party...even if you have to spike it!
Tea is a must for any Victorian 1800s Themed Tea party...even if you have to spike it! | Source
Cake is a must at any Victorian Tea Party.
Cake is a must at any Victorian Tea Party. | Source

Costumes

Now we come to the really fun part...the costumes! Depending on the crowd you are inviting to your party, you can make it a costume party or allow the guests to decide if they would like to dress up or not. Be sure to specify on your invitations whether it's full costume only or whether you would ask them to wear their "finest hats, gloves, pearls", etc.

Another option for your party is to provide some Victorian costume accessories for your guests as a party favor. For example, you can give everyone a strand of fake pearls (for the girls) or bow-ties (for the guys). If it's a smaller party, provide a fancy hat for all the ladies.

Here are some suggestions as to what pieces to wear:

  • fancy hats
  • lace or white gloves
  • lace-up Victorian-style boots
  • corsets and fluffy skirts
  • full Victorian gown (order online or make yourself!)
  • parasols
  • powder your face
  • put your hair in ringlet curls or wear a wig
  • guys can wear suits of any kind
  • guys: tophats and pocketwatches
  • little girls: wear their fanciest dress with boas, hats, pearls, gloves, etc.

Matt and Lori Knowles In Full Victorian Costume by Ellin Beltz
Matt and Lori Knowles In Full Victorian Costume by Ellin Beltz | Source
Have everyone wear their Sunday's best...make it simple!
Have everyone wear their Sunday's best...make it simple! | Source
You might not find a costume this decadent, but at least let it inspire you!
You might not find a costume this decadent, but at least let it inspire you! | Source

The Final Touches

After you've sent the invitations and decided on décor, costumes, and food, it's time to make up your mind on the finishing touches. You'll need to think about the setting, obviously but also about the furniture needed (tables, chairs, etc.) Borrow from a friend, rent, or use your own... There are many options.

You'll also want to think about playing some light music. If you are spending a lot of money on this venue, you can hire a small orchestra or violin player. If not, play some classical music or Victorian-style music on a surround sound system (lightly not loudly).

If you plan on entertaining your guests, think about whether or not to incorporate games or raffles of some kind. You can look up various Victorian Garden Party games online or simply make them up as you go along!

Make it classy and make it fun for everyone. Make it a party they'll never forget!

A real photograph of a Victorian Tea Party from the 1800s!
A real photograph of a Victorian Tea Party from the 1800s! | Source

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© 2015 Nicole Canfield

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  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 21 months ago from the Ether

    Chantelle - Well, if you do it...I want to see pictures! :)

  • Chantelle Porter profile image

    Chantelle Porter 21 months ago from Chicago

    I have a backyard filled with garden beds and I think this would be such a great idea for a party back there. I loved all your suggestions and I can see why you would enjoy being a party planner. for me its usually just drinks and pizza for the Superbowl. Voila! I think it's time I step up my game. This one's a re-share.

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

    mariamontgomery - You would totally be invited! Thanks for reading.

  • MariaMontgomery profile image

    MariaMontgomery 2 years ago from Central Florida, USA

    This sounds lovely. I would love to attend. Where's my invitation? Grin I would love to have a tea party similar to this in my back yard. Maybe someday...

  • kittythedreamer profile image
    Author

    Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

    Larry - Yes, but I'm sure it could be as easy or as hard as one would like to make it. :)

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

    Cool idea. A lot of work goes into mimicking the Victorian style.

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