How to create a beautiful afternoon tea setting

To celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, baker, stylist and food photographer Emma Duckworth teaches us how to dress the table for a perfectly divine Afternoon Tea setting, ready for a charming #GetTogether with family and friends. Using Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Colour Pop and Sophie Conran for Portmeirion White collection, Emma creates a sophisticated tabletop designed to delight guests, accompanied with tasty treats guaranteed to leave invitees wanting more.

To see more of Emma’s scrumptious recipes and beautiful settings, visit her Instgram @EmmaDuckworthBakes and find yourself getting lost in in the wonderful world of

There’s something special about putting together an Afternoon Tea setting for family and friends to enjoy. The styling and decoration on the table can be as simple or as over the top as you like, so I’m going to take you through the step by step process in creating a masterpiece at home.

Victoria sponge cake on set table with candles for afternoon tea

Pick your theme and colour palette

Right out of the blocks you have to pick your theme and colour palette, the two go hand in hand. My theme is rustic elegance. Worn brass cutlery placed with crumpled organic linens lend themselves to the rustic feel perfectly. Elegance is brought into play with tall candlesticks, the layering of plates and napkins and the abundance of flowers. I went for muted blues and greens offset by warm brass and peachy tones.

Select your china and napery

The Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Colour Pop Celadon Coupe Plates and teacups pair beautifully with the crisp white of the plates and bowls. The rippled texture of the porcelain adds a subtle yet effective texture to the setting. When it comes to napery, don’t be afraid to mix and match. The napkins used range from crisp white to duck egg blue to smokey blues, but as they all sit in the same ‘family’ of colours they add to the visual layering of the table setting.

Set the table

Once you have an idea of your colour scheme and the general theme for your Afternoon Tea, the china and napery you’re using, it’s then time to set the table. This is where the real fun begins! My top tip is to layer, layer, layer. By this I mean we want to create visual interest. If you were to put one side plate and a spoon on the table it would feel flat and lifeless. The trick is to layer your china with each other, even if you aren’t going to use every piece! The crisp white Sophie Conran for Portmeirion 10.5inch Coupe Plates really stand out against the blue table cloth, allowing the Celadon 8.5inch Coupe Plates to be instantly offset against the white, and so on. The layering of materials and colours visually fills the space and provides cohesion to each place setting even if they aren’t all identical. The brass cutlery instantly gives that pop of warmth, and tied with a piece of brown string, the napkins add a sense of rustic charm that is the cornerstone of our theme.

Choose decorative objects: flowers and cales

Once the table is set it’s time for the final decorative touches. By this, I mean flowers and candles. The silvery-green tones of the eucalyptus leaves tie in perfectly with the colour scheme. The arrangements are kept relaxed by mixing a couple of different types of flowers, all in the white and pink shades, together. Only small vessels are needed for the flowers so Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Balloon Tumblers and the small pitcher prove the perfect size. Tall white candles in brass bases stick to the colour palette at play but also add a touch of elegance to the setting.

Food and drink

Now it’s time for what some say is the most important component of Afternoon Tea…the food and drink. It isn’t a proper Afternoon Tea if there isn’t cake. A strawberry lemonade layer cake seems the perfect choice for such an occasion. Placed on the Portmeirion Footed Cake Plate, this beautiful creation takes centre stage on the table. Alongside are simple vanilla peach cupcakes and fresh fruit for some light relief. Freshly squeezed lemonade in a large jug and chilled Rosé wine provide the perfect accompaniment to the Afternoon Tea. When creating your menu think about the colours of your table and work within these parameters to continue the cohesive look of your table.

Enjoy with family

Now the table is set, the food and drink is served, it’s time to #GetTogether around the beautiful table setting and enjoy the food, drink and most importantly… each others company! An Afternoon Tea like this is the perfect excuse to take time out from the demands of life and take the time to chat, talk about your day, share in accomplishments and solve problems together. It’s invaluable to the sense of family unity so what are you waiting for? Start thinking about your next Afternoon Tea.

We’d love to see your Afternoon Tea creations, so share with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and don’t forget to hashtag #GetTogether.

Make sure to enter our Afternoon Tea Week prize draw to be in with a chance of winning a Portmeirion collection of your choice.