How to host a chocolate-inspired Mad Hatter’s tea party

5 May 2021


“Curiouser and curiouser!” Unleash your inner Mad Hatter and host a delicious tea party inspired by Alice in Wonderland — with a chocolate twist.

The fantastical tale of Alice in Wonderland has captured the imaginations of children and adults alike for decades. With its quirky characters and vibrant imagery, the story offers oodles of inspiration for events. In particular, it presents a brilliant theme for a ‘Mad Hatter’s tea party’ filled with sumptuous sights, fabulous costumes, and luxury biscuits.

What was the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written by Lewis Carroll in 1865. It follows the story of Alice, a young girl who falls down a rabbit hole and finds herself in a magical ‘wonderland.’

To observe the novel’s 150th anniversary in 2015, Hay Festival, a literary celebration held annually in Wales, hosted an imaginative story-trail hosted by the Mad Hatter. This eccentric character is central to one of the book’s stand-out chapters.

In this scene, Alice stumbles upon a bizarre tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter. Though the table has enough place settings for many guests, only there are only three people present. The party is filled with strange riddles and songs, and the Hatter explains that it’s perpetually tea time. They never have time to wash up, which is why they have to keep moving places to get a fresh cup.

The idea of a tea party presents an excellent starting point for a gathering. Imagine a decadent table laden with beautiful teapots and delicious dunkable biscuits – dreamy!

Which characters attended the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

Illustration of the mad hatter's tea party

Although the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Sleeping Dormouse are the only guests Alice sees at the tea party, she meets a host of other remarkable characters on her journey across Wonderland. They present the perfect opportunities for fancy dress.

For your Mad Hatter’s tea party, it can be a fun idea to assign each of your guests a character from the book and encourage them to put together a costume. Other character options include:

  • The disappearing Cheshire Cat
  • The stern Queen of Hearts
  • The forever-late White Rabbit
  • Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the mischievous, feuding twins
  • The ill-tempered Cook
  • The hookah-smoking Caterpillar (maybe with a bubble wand instead of a hookah!)
  • The playing cards who guard the Queen

Offering a ‘best costume’ prize is always a good incentive. You could treat your winner to a stylish dinner party gift. From a box of fragrant Turkish Delight to a Duo of Petit Pod Cups, there’s something to inspire a little bit of friendly competition in all groups.

What do you serve at a tea party?

Pausing for a refreshing cup of afternoon tea and a light nibble with friends became a fashionable part of society in the 19th century.

Alongside a pot of quintessential English tea, traditional tea party fare often includes a selection of finger-food items, like cakes, biscuits, and delicate sandwiches.

We might be a bit biased, but we reckon a little lashing of chocolate can add the je ne sais quoi to any delicious treat. From dessert-inspired Cheesecake truffles to cocoa-rich Macarons, chocolate can add a delectable modern twist to a classic tea party.

Tea, of course, might be the standard drinking choice for this type of gathering. However, it can be an acquired taste, particularly if you’re putting on an event for children. For kids who might not like a strong cuppa, how about offering a creamy hot chocolate?

On the other hand, you could host a grown-up affair with a selection of cocktails served speakeasy-style in vintage teapots. A splash of Cacao Gin makes the perfect base for an array of invigorating cocktails to add a bit of pizzazz to your Mad Hatter’s tea party.

How to decorate for a tea party

girl at a tea party pouring iced tea

The beauty of an Alice in Wonderland themed party is that you can really let your imagination run wild with the decor. Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland is a bright and vibrant world where flowers talk. Bring some floral beauty to the scene with a variety of fresh and faux roses in red and white. You could even stick on some googly eyes to add some extra character.

A selection of mismatched teacups, saucers, and teapots make the ideal centrepiece for your party table. Whether you’re serving classic tea, velvety hot chocolate, or something with a bit more of a kick, combining regular teacups with miniature and giant versions can add to the strange atmosphere Alice experiences as she shrinks and grows throughout her adventure.

Adding ‘Eat me’ and ‘Drink me’ labels to your food and beverages is also a nice nod to the potions and cookies that change Alice’s size.

Other oversized props, like playing cards, an elaborate key or a clock stopped at tea time, can enhance the fantastical nature, too.

And, of course, you can present your tea party snacks in a show-stopping way. Vintage cake stands are a great way to display some tempting patisserie-inspired delights.

What games to play

Alongside enjoying delicious snacks, you might like to add some entertainment to your tea party.

In the story, Alice joins in with a game of croquet at the Queen of Hearts’ palace, and this can be a great activity for a sunny garden party. If you really want to go all out, you can even decorate the croquet sticks as flamingoes.

If you’re tighter on space, why not tip your hat to the Mad Hatter himself with some riddles and word games? The more obscure, the better.

Another fun idea is to pay homage to the seat-switching at the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Throughout your gathering, you can play a collection of Wonderland-themed songs, then pause the music at random intervals and get your guests to swap places.

Extra ideas to set the mood

tea cups on a table with flowers and decorations

As well as setting the mood with a fun playlist throughout your Mad Hatter’s tea party, you can build excitement early on.

Why not get creative with your invitations, using quotes from the original text, which is now in the public domain. You could design your invitations in the shape of a playing card, a teacup, or a top hat.

And it’s always good to end on a high note. Send your guests away with a cute party favour. From an artisan tea bag they can brew up at home to a kooky Wonderland-themed temporary tattoo, there are all sorts of items you could choose. And, of course, in our opinion, a small chocolate treat never goes amiss.