A tea party is a magical event that doesn't require video game controllers, mouse pads or a remote control. For little girls, it's classic entertainment at its best. Watching your youngster sip tea from a miniature tea set might even take you back in time, reminding you of tea parties you hosted as a child. Even though you want the experience to be both enjoyable and memorable, it's also an ideal time to stress manners and etiquette. So, dig out your little girl's frilly dress and help her explore what ladylike behavior is all about.
Rule number one when having a little girl's tea party is to remember to use polite language. As most parents know, manners aren't always easy to learn or remember, so a tea party is the perfect opportunity to stress courteous behavior. Encourage the children to say "please," "thank you" and "excuse me" during the entire activity. For example, a participant should say, "Could you please pass the cookies?" Or, "Thank you for the tea." According to party planner Donna Collins on the Tea Party Girl website, if a child doesn't want a particular food item, she should say, "No thank you. I don't care for any." If a child forgets to use polite words, don't damage the mood -- simply remind her that etiquette is a big part of the party. Providing her with an example of what to say offers friendly advice without sounding critical or condemning. Boys may participate in tea parties, but polite language is also required of them.
Tea party participants should have courteous table manners. Your breakfast table might have regular milk spills, sticky fingerprints and a fine layer of crumbs, but a little girl's tea party is no place for messy behavior. According to the website Posh Party Box, a participant should unfold and place her napkin on her lap. If she leaves the table, she should place the napkin on her chair and avoid putting it on the table until the tea party is over. If you catch your child using her sleeve to wipe her mouth, remind her that's what the napkin is for. Tea parties don't allow slurping, and participants must cover their mouths and say, "Excuse me," if they need to burp. It's the hostess' responsibility to pour the tea, but the children can take turns playing the role of hostess. A hostess must always be careful not to overfill or overflow the teacups.
Children must learn to select food items they'll actually eat, so they don't touch the food and later decide they don't want it. Collins encourages tea party participants to obey the hard and fast rule, "If you touch-y, you take-y." Kids may want to dig into the cookies or treats as if they were movie popcorn, but tea party etiquette requires self-control. Grabbing too much food at once is a big no-no. If a girl finishes a treat, she can get another one as long as her plate isn't full of other goodies. It's acceptable to eat most tea party desserts with fingers, so remind the girls to wipe their hands frequently. Participants should take small bites of food and small sips of tea -- a stuffed mouth isn't particularly ladylike.
Drinking the Tea
A participant must slowly stir her tea, swishing the spoon back and forth carefully without clinking the spoon on the sides of the cup, according to Posh Party Box. Tea parties are quiet and conservative, so noisy dish clanking and loud voices will damage the atmosphere. Once a child is done stirring, she should place the spoon on the saucer to the right of the handle. Remind the participants that they should never stick a wet spoon in the sugar bowl. Yucky. A teacup should always be lifted by the handle and placed back on the saucer after each sip. Twirling, tossing and juggling a teacup might sound like fun, but it's not polite tea party behavior.