Aga-Queen Mary Berry has enticed us back into the kitchen. Fans of this delightful cook(she doesn’t swear or flirt with the camera – perhaps that’s why she is so popular ?) have been encouraged back into the kitchen, to revive long-lost cookery skills. Why not follow the trend, and bake for charity ? Marie Curie’s Blooming Great Tea Party, or Breast Cancer Care’s Strawberry Tea, Prostate Cancer’s Tea for Victory, the Yorkshire Tea Party and Mad Hatter Tea Parties – there is something for everyone, and all for cancers. Tea Parties are one of easiest and cheapest ways of entertaining friends, and raising money at the same time ; even if friends can’t come, they will often send a donation anyway. Everyone likes an excuse for a chat, and this type of occasion can be fitted around work, treatment, housework or kids. Basic ingredients are much cheaper than wine and dinner party food.

Hints and tips to help planning

Contact your chosen charity – as most of them issue a ‘party pack’ to help anyone organising an event on their behalf. These might contain decorations, invitations, recipes, ideas, etc. and are all fun and useful. If you are entertaining a large group, ask friend/s to be in charge of boiling the kettle and handing round teas. Friends are often flattered to be asked to supply a cake – or biscuits. And if you have any left over give them to the nurses, or auction to make more money.
  1. Keep portions small – people want finger-food they can pick up and eat in one mouthful – so if you are making scones or cup cakes make the smallest size.
  2. Cut sandwiches into eighths. Easier to eat and go further.
  3. About only food that can be full-sized is cakes – but friends like to cut a sliver so supply a sharp knife and let them cut their own.

Preparation Tips

For sandwiches, use best bread (at least a day old to make it easier to cut), and don’t forget many small bakeries have slicing machines. Many sandwiches can be made days before, wrapped and frozen. Use butter – apparently this is healthier than spreads (now nutritionists tell us !) tastes better and is easier to spread if kept out of fridge Vegans and vegetarians love cucumber sandwiches – both make very inexpensive but glam fillings, but have to be made on the day. Although you can butter slices and store in deep freeze (wrapped) to fill on day. Smoked salmon bits are sold in good supermarkets – and go a long way to make glamorous sarnies ! If you want to lay things out on a valuable table, cover it with a blanket under a lace cloth (ask Great Aunt – she’s bound to have an old treasure, and it looks really glamorous) Involve Kids – they love to help, both with cooking and handing round food on the day Supply sweeteners and sugar lumps – which look more glamorous than plain sugar If weather is warm, don’t forget ICED TEA and ICED COFFEE – both glam alternatives If entertaining a lot you will often find major supermarkets will help with supplying tea bags, sugar and milk if it’s in aid of a local charity event – say it’s the Women’s Group of XXX’s party in aid of the cancer charity, and stress that it’s a local event when you ask. If your store manager sees you as regular customer, they usually have a budget to support local charities.


When you send out invitations, if you want to make the event extra special, you could include a blurb on background history. First, invite friends to AFTERNOON TEA. Contrary to mis-informaton in magazines, HIGH TEA was what servants and labourers ate – and included something substantial such as meat, fit for a working man. AFTEROON TEA was what family of Downton Abbey would take ! Tea probably originated in China as a medicinal drink. Early records date back to the 3rd century AD, in a medical text written by Hua Tuo. Tea was first introduced into Europe by Portuguese priests and merchants visiting China during the 16th century, and when Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese Princess, married King Charles II after the Restoration, she bought the custom of tea drinking with her to England. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the late 17th century. The British introduced tea production, as well as consumption to India, in order to compete with the Chinese monopoly on tea.