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Budget afternoon tea ideas

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Put together a stunning afternoon tea for a special occasion like Mother's Day. Raid the storecupboard for these recipes and create a showstopping menu.

An afternoon tea is all about pampering, indulgence and a sense of luxury with towering tiers of sweet treats, scones and sandwiches, but the cost of going out to one can be prohibitive. The good news is, our brilliant budget recipes mean that you can treat friends or family, perhaps in celebration of Mother's Day, and not break the bank.


If you want to include a bit of bubbly as part of the event, that will be your biggest outlay, but we've picked the best champagne for £35 or less – much better value than buying it by the glass. You could also check the drinks cabinet to see if you have what's needed to make one of our easy cocktails.

From sensational sweet martinis to three-ingredient scones, this extra-special spread is full of time-saving hacks and pocket-friendly recipes. You may also want to browse our afternoon tea recipe collection and, along with menu ideas, we have more tips on how to host an afternoon tea.

Drinks and cocktails

Cocktail in teacups on table with teapot

Begin your afternoon tea with our elegant Earl Grey martini. You only need gin, Earl Grey tea and ice to make this delicate citrus-spiked drink in minutes – and serve it in your finest teacups. Or, posh up your bubbly with one of our 10 prosecco cocktails you can make in minutes. Passing on the booze? Whip up one of our delectable mocktails.

Sandwiches and savouries

Finger sandwiches topped with cucumber on plate

A selection of sandwiches is a must-have for any afternoon tea and they lend themselves well to entertaining on a budget. With a few clever additions to ingredients that may be languishing in the fridge, you can make a range of bite-sized beauties to impress.

For a veggie option with a twist try carrot & raisin sandwiches – perfect finger food. Our classic egg mayonnaise sandwiches can also be ready in five minutes.

Give the quintessentially English cucumber sandwich a makeover and put together cucumber & herb triple-deckers with mint and cream cheese. If you're a sucker for a stack, go all out with our classic club sandwich recipe. All you need is some bacon and thick turkey or chicken slices.

Sweets and treats

Scones on cooling rack with jam and cream

No afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones slathered with jam and a dollop of fresh cream, but we break with tradition slightly to bring you these amazing ice cream scones. They take two minutes to prep with just three ingredients, including a small tub of ice cream. Trust us, it works!

While the scones are the in the oven, mix up a batch of chocolate shortbread fingers. They cost around 15p each to make because, while shortbread looks impressive, it uses ingredients that most people will usually have at home. For something a little lighter, our easy jammy biscuits never disappoint and, again, you probably won't need to go shopping first.

Chocolate mousse in teacups on table

For a quirky touch, why not make a light and fluffy mousse like our chocolate tea-pots. They're infused with Earl Grey and English breakfast tea, so ideal for the occasion.

Classic cake

Sponge cake with slice cut on cake stand

No afternoon tea would be complete without cake. Try our basic cupcakes recipe with buttercream frosting and if you have a little bit of time, you could decorate them with our simple sugar roses. The classic Victoria sandwich is always a winner and brings a touch of class to any occasion. Of course, the best part is, it only uses staple ingredients.

If you fancy something chocolatey instead, try our sticky chocolate cake. It's made with just six ingredients, including thick, fruity marmalade. Or, for an equally easy chocolate fix, try our chocolate brownie cake and cut it into dainty squares.

Get more inspiration for impressive low-cost dishes by checking out our posh budget recipes.


Want to make Mother's Day extra special? Don't forget the gift...

The best Mother's Day gifts for foodies
The best gins to buy for Mother's Day
How to make a hamper for Mother's Day


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