The vintage-styled Mad Tea Party’s table is a critical piece to this particular event and a great deal of thought and planning should be given to this area. You’ll find tons of ideas here and in “Mad Tea Party” Theme, Part 2B just for the tea table or you could use them to carry on the theme into other areas of the party space. Besides using iconic symbols of Alice in Wonderland, the idea of this party is to always keep the perspective of the Mad Hatter. How would he decorate the table? What china would the Hatter own? What food would he or the other characters serve?
To begin planning the Mad Hatter’s Tea table, you will need to assess your own belongings that might aid in decorating, serving or seating. Have a fair estimate of the number of guests you will serve, then tally up all the teacups, plates, silverware, teapots, linens (vintage or new) and chairs you can find in your own collection (or borrow). The more they mismatch the better. Once you’ve done this, you’ll know how many of these items you need to fill in with.
Miss Party found a few dishes available with the original ‘Alice’ illustrations printed on them; juice glasses, small plates, bowls, and a giant teacup. If you’re really mad about all things ‘Alice’, you’ll have to have them just as she did! See Giant ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Teacup for an image and link available at Urban Outfitters, from there you can also search for the other glasses and dishes available. The dishes are nice and heavyweight for everyday use, the images are lovely.
Regularly scour your second-hand stores and discount home goods stores every few weeks. Look for anything that reminds you of iconic symbols from the Alice in Wonderland story: teacups, saucers, plates, forks, serving dishes, teapots, vases, clocks, white rabbit figurines, old bottles, small table frames, linens, and vintage handkerchiefs (to use for napkins). Try to collect a good mix of sturdy, single color teacups and saucers to balance with the delicate ones.
Here are a few other table decor ideas to set the mood: clocks of all sizes set at 6 o’clock, locks and keys, small framed pictures of Tenniel’s illustrations, teapots with or without flowers, a small footstool stacked with books and then a teacup and saucer or teapot, teacup and saucer towers (see Part 2B for links to this idea), antique bottles, a candelabra, glass candleholders, rabbit figurines, stacks of old books.
A quick vintage-styled flower container project is to make an ‘Alice’ themed Bottle Bouquet using several antique medicine bottles. Attach an antique or scrapbooking embellishment key to the center string or wire and an aged ‘Drink Me!’ tag to one of the bottles (See Part 2B for links on how to age your paper).
At best, your seating at the tea party will be mismatched using assorted wooden chairs, with one high-backed fully upholstered armchair for the head of the table. The upholstered chair is quite memorable in the Mad Tea Party illustration so making the effort to secure such a chair is important. The chair could be wing-backed or just high-backed. If at all possible, avoid using plastic chairs at this table. You could also play with a variety of seating heights, from a barstool to a bench or ottoman.
Consider how many tables you will need to seat your party. As you can see in the image above, zig-zagging a combination of tables, adds to the whimsical feel of the table. Combine oval, rectangular, square and round tables to make one continuous tea table if your space can accommodate this. As with everything else, the more improvised the tea table looks, the better. Will you need to rent or borrow tables and tablecloths to seat everyone?
Continue on to “Mad Tea Party” Theme, Part 2B.