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Creating a tea party atmosphere is a snap: let the kids play dress up and decorate themselves without spending a cent. After ransacking their own costume closet, let kids raid Mom or Dad’s. A sparkly shirt can serve as a dress, a brooch placed on a chain will become a glittering pendant, and old heels can find newer, smaller feet to be of use. A swipe of Mom’s lipstick or eyeshadow is enough to get any child into a party mood.

To create a more whimsical, cozy vibe for the tea party room itself, gently place lightweight scarves over lampshades (taking care, of course, that they are not anywhere close to naked bulbs). Outdoor tea parties can still achieve a special atmosphere with a brightly patterned quilt or blanket laid out on the grass and cushions for a royal highness’s hiney to sit upon.


Putting out special plates, a tea set, a tablecloth, and nice glasses can set the mood and also offer a lesson to kids to honor and take special care of beloved items. Kids as young as two or three can understand this concept and will likely handle your tea cup as if it were a precious gem. If you don’t have a tea set (children’s or otherwise) on hand, one can be easily procured at a thrift store or a yard sale. Pretty kerchiefs can used as placemats (and are also very cheap at thrift stores). You can find eco-friendly printed napkins like the ones shown above, which are 100% biodegradable and and made from 100% cellulose from either fallen trees of FSC-certified plantation wood. If you’re throwing the party in spring or summer, buy a bouquet from the farmer’s market or bunch some dandelions into a vase to add instant class to your tot’s tea party. Finally, lay out some of handmade knit cupcakes to inspire partygoers to play pretend until it’s time for the real goodies. We bet your child will love serving them to stuffed animal or doll guests at the party, and on many future playdates, too. They also can be given as party favors.

+ Biodegradable napkins $5.95 for 20

+ Handmade knit cupcakes $19.99 for a set of 6

Activity 1: Crowns

The tea party can be the activity in and of itself, what with all the gabbing, noshing, and pinky lifting. But to get kids in the royal mood beforehand, we suggest decorating crowns. We love these fairy crowns that make use of the natural world, but in a pinch you could provide precut ones on a lightweight recycled poster board. Offer a selection of pressed dried flowers, soy crayon rocks and attach other baubles with eco-friendly craft glue.

+ Fairy Petal Crown How To

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Activity 2: Jewels

No royal would be properly attired without jewelry so offer a selection of beads for bracelet or necklace making, such as the recycled glass beads from Bead to Feed, which is run by a non-profit providing support for Ghanaian orphans. The Bead for Life store features beautiful and colorful beads from recycled paper and provides opportunities for women in Uganda to learn a trade and become financially independent.

+ Recycled glass beads $8.00-16.50 per strand

+ Recycled paper beads $15.00 for 120-140 beads

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Tea party food is fun for everyone: pretty colored cupcakes, cookies, fruit, finger foods such as cucumber and cream cheese or PB &J sandwiches on thin bread, or scones with clotted cream (try this delicious vegan version). India Tree makes a variety of natural decorating products including food colorings and decorating sugars for sprinkling a bit of magic onto your cupcakes – without adding any synthetic dye, as they’re made with natural vegetable colorants. You can also embellish cupcakes with edible flowers, such as lavender seeds or pansies.

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For older, sophisticated tastes, make a lemon curd and berry trifle. Start by baking a batch of cupcakes, allowing them to cool. Cut each cupcake in half horizontally. Place one half down in a cup or glass. Top with lemon curd, then blueberries. Repeat. In a pinch, using whipped cream instead of lemon curd will be a popular substitution. There are plenty of organic, caffeine-free teas out there, but you can also make your own lemon mint tea or simply substitute a healthy juice.

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Party Favors

Unsurprisingly there are dozens of fun and fashionable (as well as funny) favors for a royal tea party. Our favorites include a keepsake princess crown or king’s crown that look sturdy enough to withstand hours of waving to the simple citizens and is sourced through Aid to Artisans, some Fair Trade chocolate lip balm (for being paparazzi ready!) and a dragon finger puppet for fairy tale-telling and creating. We’re sure that you’ll get some great pics of your royals all dressed up, so consider sending some copies tucked inside your child’s recycled thank you cards.

+ Reusable Felt Princess Crown $5.62

+ Reusable Felt King’s Crown $5.62

+ Fair Trade Chocolate Lip Balm $4.50

+ Keepsake Dragon Finger Puppet $8.00

+ Princess-Themed Recycled Paper Thank You Cards $.90-1.94 each

Lead Image © Flickr User Dottie Mae