Jubilee Tea Party Cake Styling Ideas

The Platinum Jubilee weekend brings a few of our favourite things together. Namely, cakes, teapots and vintage crockery plus the excuse to party and go just a bit crazy with the bunting. Here at Honey buns Bakery HQ, we love any opportunity to bake cakes and then arrange them in a whimsically pretty way. Happily, over the past weeks we’ve had plenty of practice at table scaping and cake craft. Do check out our previous blog on holding a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

As a recap, everything we bake here at Honeybuns is utterly delicious, made with the best of premium ingredients and just so happens to be gorgeously gluten free too. We also make wonderful vegan and dairy free tray bakes and cake slices for everyone to enjoy. Our aim is to make indulgent, naughty treats that also just so happen to be free from. Meaning more people can join in and enjoy them without anyone feeling they are having the slightly “less than” option on the menu.

So, without further a do, let’s get back to our right royal tea party knees up……

How do I start to plan the perfect tea party?

Jubilee tea party ideasThis may sound obvious, but ask your self the key preparatory questions:

  1. How many people are you expecting?
  2. Where are you holding it? Inside or out?
  3. Do you need to meet any special requirements? Think mobility issues (as with our beloved HMQ), dietary needs etc.
  4. Decide a theme, colour way and mood. For example, the Jubilee theme dictates a red white & blue scheme and a joyous mood with touches of vintage and British eccentricity.
  5. Set a budget of money. Expensive does not always mean best. Indeed we actively prefer events that are more rustic, home spun and relaxed. If we do choose silverware it will be an eclectic mix of old favourites sourced in charity shops.
  6. Cast an eye over what you already have in terms of props/cutlery and crockery. Here at Honeybuns, we are all about recycling and using sustainable vintage and second hand pieces when setting a table. Ditto flowers. In May-June your guests may well have gorgeous flowers and foliage they can contribute from their own gardens.
  7. Timing. Traditionally, tea in England is taken between 3-5pm. I think budgeting 2-3 hours works well.
  8. Team power. By knowing who you have to help you can be realistic about the level of service you are going to offer. For example, if you are expecting 20 guests but there are only 2 of you to work the party – then pretty paper cups and plates will arguably be the way to go. You will already have worked hard enough – do you then really want to be left with a mountain of washing up? In our experience, great food and the warmest hospitality more than makes up for any such practical compromises.

After figuring out these practical questions let’s now take a look at various types of party.

The Traditional Tea party look

This theme takes time to put together but it needn’t be expensive.

If you are hankering after a “Tea at the Ritz” look then a tiered cake stand made of silver or china is traditional. Silver sugar tongs, an ornate cake slice server and rinky dink teaspoons are all part of this look. All these elements including the tablecloth can be found inexpensively in charity shops or at car boot sales. Online sites such as Free cycle, free ads, gum tree and ebay are also great hunting grounds.

Rather than slavishly following any traditional tea party etiquette, I would suggest playing with certain elements and having some fun. For instance, try mixing clashing patterns of tablecloths, napkins and china for a less staid look.

You can mimic the Savoy by asking willing friends to dress up in black and white to serve your guests. To camp things up a bit add white gloves and a frilly pinny….

For traditional tea time guidance try, The Royal Butler then have fun bending the rules….

Budget friendly Tea Party tips

Share the catering load by imagining you are holding a tea party for a whole village and ask everyone to bring a plate of finger food. Or they could contribute hand picked flowers, a bottle of bubbles or loan you some table ware. The key is to plan ahead and give people plenty of notice. Be specific about what you need each person to bring. For example, asking “please bring a pretty china plate with 8 x bite sized gluten free cakes on” will avoid duplication and stop people dithering and panicking about what to bring. Better to be gently bossy than to be vague IMO.

Baking on a budget. We needn’t point out that food is currently shooting up in price here in the UK. To try and keep a lid on expenses when baking cakes we would suggest making tray bakes. This is especially valid when catering for larger parties. Tray bakes take up less space in the oven and yield more portions. Bake with cheaper ingredients. Oats (be sure to use gluten free oats if baking for coeliacs) are a good value baking ingredient. We’ve got fabulous flapjack recipes which are gluten free and can be adapted to vegan and dairy free too:

Foraged fruit flapjack recipe

Gluten free banana flapjack

Coconut and chocolate flapjack

Alternatively, avoid switching on the oven altogether and opt for no bake refrigerator cakes. We’ve got an insanely moresish recipe for a no bake cheesecake you to try:

Just switch the blackberries for any summer fruits. Raspberries, strawberries, cherries would all work well.

For more easy gluten free recipes you might want to consider investing in the Honeybuns baking book which is packed full of tea time treat recipes plus plenty of lush teatime photos for inspiration.

Also, do bear in mind that we often have Honeybuns special offers online where we sell less than perfect gluten free tray bakes and cake slices. The flaws will be cosmetic. For instance, the chocolate might have an unintentional marbled effect which means we cannot sell it to our regular trade customers. It’s a great way to buy our premium award winning treats at bargain prices. All our cakes can be frozen- so you can stock up ahead of your event.

Alternatively, if you can make it to one of our monthly pop up shops we sell our cakes off sat super duper bargain prices. You can also pick my brains (shouldn’t take long!) for gluten free baking tips. We’re always happy to help where we can.

Top tea time gluten free cake recipes

Lemon cake is simple, budget friendly (no expensive chocolate) and the nation’s favourite flavour. Try our gluten free lemon cake as a loaf or tray bake.

Viennese whirls are dainty, pretty and melt-in-the-mouth delicious.

Or for a lovely, and very easy loaf or tray bake try our cherry and almond cake.

Show stopper dessert ideas

My three top go-to’s are:

  1. Posh trifle. We featured this at Christmas but it works year round.
  2. Ice cream cake is so easy. You need 2 x chocolate brownie tray bakes which you then sandwich together with ice cream (Jude’s do a great vegan version). See here for the brownie recipe to get you started.
  3. A pimped up stack of tray bake portions adorned with flower petals, drizzles of chocolate and chocolate buttons. Get yours here.

Inexpensive DIY cake decorations

For easy, cheap Jubilee cake decorations things couldn’t be simpler. Just collate plenty of:




These fruits sort out the red and blue of your Union Jack colour way. For the white bit you can either make your own mini white merigunes or try London Apron if you are short on time. Alternatively use white daisies. Then arrange your red, white and blues over your cakes in any pattern you desire.

White chocolate drizzle also works well.

For vividly bright pops of pink and red we love using sprinkles of free dried cranberries or raspberry. These are pricey but a little goes a long way. You can find these in little tubes in supermarket baking aisles.

Try mini sparklers too. These can look great a top a stack of cakes or on single plated portions. Try Talking Tables for ideas.

To make your own cake stand simply turn a pretty china tea cup upside down. Pop a cute china dinner plate on top et Voila! Use as a platform on which to stack your cake portions, cut from a tray bake. Then sprinkle with petals, chocolate, whatever you fancy.

Comment and share what you thought of these ideas! Be sure to share with a friend too! Thanks for reading!

– Emma Goss Custard

If you have any questions, do get in touch via this blog in the comments section, or via facebook, email or telephone.

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