This make-ahead meal is a deliciously sweet way to celebrate the number one woman in your life.

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Treat Mom to something different this year: We think a very proper and incredibly tasty afternoon tea is just the way to celebrate Mother's Day. Eat it outdoors on the porch or the lawn on a bright, sunny Sunday, or else set up the table beside a cozy fire if the morning proves chilly. Best of all, this meal is make-ahead, though you'll need to make the pot of tea just before serving.

An afternoon tea should not be confused with high tea, which is a family dinner served early with bread and butter, followed by cakes for dessert. Afternoon tea, on the other hand, is a ladylike repast that's heavy on the carbs. It's also a time to show off your baking skills whether they are modest (in that case, prepare scones) or pro-level (we suggest whipping up a tall layer cake).

A "proper" afternoon tea, like that served at a fine London hotel like The Savoy, starts with a selection of tea sandwiches, then scones, and ends with an assortment of cakes and cookies. At home for a Mother's Day afternoon tea, you can streamline the meal by preparing one type of tea sandwich and a batch of scones, then end on the sweetest note with a layer cake or cupcakes. Want to keep it even more simple that that? Prepare an easy cake, brownies, or a favorite bar cookie that you know Mom adores.

The Tea

Now is the time to pull out your lovely teapot. We suggest serving a black tea or a decaff option that Mom likes, but an herbal tisane would also be lovely if that's more her thing. A glass of Champagne is an optional add on that we heartily endorse!

curried egg and butter tea sandwiches
Credit: Raymond Hom

The Tea Sandwiches

You can fill your thinly sliced bread with cucumber or smoked salmon, but we're all for making the Curried-Egg-Butter Tea Sandwiches you see here. Whatever type of tea sandwiches you chose to make, cutting off the crusts is essential. Whether you cut them into slim rectangles or cute triangles is up to you.

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The Scones

If you have a go-to scone recipe, bake it! If not, give our Rich Cream Scones a go. A generous amount of cream and butter is key to their light, flaky texture. Serve them warm or at room temperature with clotted cream and Mom's favorite jam.

The Cake

Anything goes for a sweet finale; pull out all the stops if you like with a frosted and decorated four-layer cake, or else make a selection of cupcake and homemade sandwich cookies. More modest but just as delicious is the Iced Raspberry Loaf Cake you see above—it pairs so well with black tea.

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