We had a sensational time at our Mad Hatter-themed Tea Party in aid of Sense

Julia is a Sense charity shop manager in Billericay. Here, she tells us all about how she organised the shop’s successful Alice in Wonderland-themed Sensational Tea Party – and how you can plan one, too!

We decided to throw a Sensational Tea Party to make our local community aware of this new fundraiser, and how much fun you could have throwing one. 

Julia, a woman with blonde hair wearing rabbit ears and a rabbit nose, picking up a sandwich at her Sensational Tea Party.

It was a great day for being able to connect with our customers. We got the chance to explain exactly what our fabulous charity is all about, and what we do with the money they donate to support people with complex disabilities.

Planning our very own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party

We first had a tea party at the shop last year. During that event, myself and my team kept singing The Unbirthday Song from Alice in Wonderland. When we decided to do the Sensational Tea Party this year, we knew that this time, we had to go with an Alice theme!

We started collecting Alice-themed merchandise to turn the shop into a Wonderland. We contacted local businesses to see if they would like to participate with us, and collected tea sets.

We also came up with the idea to make cake stands from old vinyl records.

Some of our staff and volunteers have a restaurant background, which came in handy. We managed to source lots of cakes and other baked goods for the event. Plus, we baked some ourselves.

We also decided to dress up as Alice in Wonderland characters to set the mood and bring in an element of fun!

A table decorated with rose petals, keys and hearts, displaying cake, scones and teacups.

Serving cream tea went down a treat with the whole community

We turned our sorting room into a kitchen for the day, so we could serve people. We sold teas, coffees and cakes and also offered the option of cream tea – this went down really well! 

The scones and clotted cream were definitely a favourite. I also had a few requests as to how I made my mustard mayonnaise.

A lot of our loyal customers came along to the party. The nicest surprise was a visit by Ben and his family. Ben is a lovely guy and uses Sense services.

A woman and a man sitting at a table at a Sensational Tea Party.

Not only did we love that Ben and his family came to support us, it meant that other people who attended the event could meet firsthand a person who benefits from the effort the Sense teams put in to raise money. 

Throughout the week of the Tea Party, we also ran a tombola, with the chance to win soft toys. We also had a “guess how many marshmallows in the jar” competition.

Some top tips for running your own Sensational Tea Party

It doesn’t matter what you do, be it big or small. Have fun and raise some money at the same time. 

You don’t need to bake everything yourself, there’s great affordable options out there for cakes if you look around.

A top tip if you’d like to serve cream teas: we chose to let people book in advance, so we were well-prepared for the number of people that showed up.

We’re hoping to host another Tea Party soon. We’re looking forward to once again raising money and awareness of Sense’s fabulous work.