Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
The Mad Hatter is a character from British Author, Lewis Carroll’s 1865 classic, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. He first appeared in ‘Through the looking glass’ as a character called ‘Hatta’ at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Carroll never actually used the term ‘Mad Hatter’. However, the glue used to make hats in those days, was full of mercury and was known to make the hatters a little crazy and hence the phrase, as mad as a hatter!
Alice stumbles upon the Mad Hatter having a Tea party with some of his colorful friends after falling down the rabbit hole. The Mad Hatter was stuck in an ever repeating tea party with the March Hare and a rather narcoleptic Dormouse. Time had punished him for displeasing the Queen of Hearts, and stopped time forever at 6pm (Tea Time).
What is a tea party
So what is a tea party? Well it’s pretty simple really…Tea, cake and everything in between.The tea party was often attributed to an English Royal Duchess, Anna Russell in England in 1840 , the seventh Duchess of Bedford and Marquess of Tavistock. There are however mentions of afternoon tea, in France and China that predate the duchess. While she may not have invented the tea party, she certainly influenced it’s rise to popularity.
Anna was a friend of Queen Victoria, before and after she ascended to the throne and later served as Victoria’s Lady of the Bedchamber for 6 years. Anna’s husband was also related to the Prime Minister of England, John Russell.
The duchess would become peckish in the afternoon and would send to the kitchens for tea, Bread and Butter and a cake to stave off the hunger until her evening dinner. This became a ritual of hers and eventually, she invited some of her dearest lady friends to join her . By 1880, the afternoon tea party was a high class fashionable social event for the upper classes. Ladies would dress in long gowns, with full length gloves and fashionable hats. They would discuss the events of the day and whisper about scandals that they had happened to hear about at the royal Court or within the upper echelons of society.
There are two main types of tea party that you may come across. Afternoon or ‘low’ tea, was typically served in the garden during the afternoon, at around 4pm, weather permitting, or in the Drawing room. It was generally small and light. It usually consisted of tea , dainty cucumber sandwiches, freshly bakes scones with clotted cream & jam and a selection of other petite cakes & pastries. Hotels and Country clubs that offer afternoon tea, normally place all these items on a 3 or 4 tiered stand for everyone to enjoy at your table.
The second type was known as ‘High Tea’. This was generally held between 5-7pm and was more of an evening meal with cakes and pastries served afterwards. The younger members of the family would typically eat during this time, while the adults would have a fashionably later Dinner at 8pm.
It’s likely that Lewis Carroll drew some inspiration for his Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from these societal events.
Decoration ideas/Costumes/table layouts
The first awesome thing about a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is that it can be held inside or outside, which really gives endless decoration possibilities. You can either go the fun, whimsical, colorful route, or the royal route with dainty bone china cups,miniature cakes and sandwiches fit for a Duchess! A mad hatter’s tea party is a perfect theme for pretty much any celebratory event , for adults and children alike.
The second thing I love about the Mad Hatter theme, is that the decorations, furniture and china used, look all the better if they are mismatched and slightly haphazard!
Etsy is a great resource for finding items to use in your table setting. Some of my favorites are below
Our designers here at PartySimplicity have come up with some gorgeous designs, Do take a look! These are customizable online so you can see what the finished invite will look like…
Leave a comment below and let us know what you are doing for your Mad Hatter Tea party!
For more inspiration, Check out my Pinterest Board here
About Cathy at Firedropdesign
Cathy is a self-taught graphic designer with particular interest in Wedding Stationery, Candy Buffets and Dessert tables Signage and Business logos and associated media.