Comedian and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg puts the party in this tea party, one of the gatherings showcased in her new book, The Unqualified Hostess.

September 05, 2019

We know Whoopi Goldberg can host a talk show (she’s been part of ABC’s The View for the past 12 years), but who knew she was passionate about hosting tea parties as well? In her new book Goldberg invites us in for a close-up look at eight of her wonderfully personal party set-ups, all aimed at encouraging us to have a good time, mix things up, and break some rules.

“This book is not just about what is physically on the table; it’s also about giving yourself permission to have fun,” she says. Case in point: Welcome to what she calls Whoop’s Afternoon Tea.

PHOTO: LAURIE FRANKEL

Set the Table

Make your tea party a mix of fancy and free-form by using items you've collected and that are special to you. Whoopi's favorites include her troll dolls and ceramic figurines. "I'm kind of obsessed with making fun tables and celebrating," she says. She also likes to include an assortment of fresh bouquets on the table. "I know it looks like the petals are a little excessive—they are, much like myself—but flowers are everything."

PHOTO: LAURIE FRANKEL

Mix Your Dishes

Matchy-matchy is not Whoopi's thing. "I like to mix the expected with the unexpected. Most people have different plates. I like to use two of these, two of those.” She also recommends doubling up on the tabletop essentials. "If you have more than three people to dinner, it can be annoying to wait for someone to pass the salt, so you may want to have another pair of shakers," she recommends.

PHOTO: LAURIE FRANKEL
PHOTO: LAURIE FRANKEL

Stack the Snacks

Inspired by classic English tea parties, Whoopi sets sandwiches on the bottom tier of a server, scones in the middle, and dessert on top. Work your way up to the sweets—or break that rule and start there. And if you're serving butter or jam with your tea party sandwiches, she recommends hitting the thrift store for decorative knife rests. "They're not on everybody's radar, so they're a bargain," she says. Whoopi's book is full of unexpected ideas like this— as she says, there's nothing you can't put on the table!

Buy It: The Unqualified Hostess, $35, Rizzoli

PHOTO: LAURIE FRANKEL

Self-Serve

You can't have a tea party without tea—but don't assume everyone wants to drink the same kind. Stock up on several varieties (make sure to include a decaf option) so your guests aren't limited to your personal favorite. And instead of serving everyone from the same pot, let your guests choose their own tea. "I would never pick somebody else's tea. I open the kitchen drawers and let them choose," Whoopi says.

Whether you're sipping on Earl Grey or English breakfast, Whoopi's tips will help you host your own fun affair. Turn the kettle on and invite the gals over!

Photography: Laurie Frankel

Styling: Helen Crowther

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