Hosting a Christmas Tea Party
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My tea party adventures began at Christmas many years ago, when my mother-in-law invited our daughters and me to a Twelve Days of Christmas tea party. That was when I was 31 years old, and it was my first time to attend a formal tea. Since then I’ve hosted many a party, both big and small. Out of all those, however, my favorite is Hosting a Christmas Tea Party.
The atmosphere at a Christmas Tea cannot be compared with anything else. Your entire house is beautifully decorated, and soft carols fill the air. Delicious and fancy food is in abundance and everyone is always in a festive mood. It’s a great time to enjoy family, friends, and tea!
Many years ago, I hosted a Twelve Days of Christmas Tea at my grandma’s house, when she was no longer able to get out and about. But she loved a good tea party, so I brought one to her. I actually did this many times on a much smaller scale, but I wanted to throw a big bang party after Christmas with lots of family.
Planning a Christmas Tea Party
One of the first things I like to do when planning a Christmas tea it to figure out my theme. Consider who will be invited and if children are on your guest list, keep them in mind. Memories are being created here.
Theme and Decorations
As mentioned above, I’ve hosted a Twelve Days of Christmas Tea, but also an angel tea, a teddy bear tea, and a Nutcracker tea where I decorated with cute wooden nutcrackers and gifted them to everyone at the end of the party.
For a Christmas tea, I always like to offer a party gift that carries the theme, whether a decoration or an ornament. Just a little something for everyone to take home for them to remember the event.
At our Twelve Days of Christmas tea, my youngest daughter and I made decorations, including the menu and place cards. We found these gorgeous Victorian Graphic 45 Twelve Days of Christmas scrapbooking pads that we based our decorations on. Using these, we made gold trees with decorated rings for each day, and embellished everything with jewels and cutouts.
While I can still find this set on Ebay, Graphic 45 now has many more choices for Christmas, including one for the Nutcracker Suite, Warm Wishes, and Let’s Get Cozy. My head is already spinning with ideas for a future tea party! See their Current Selection Here.
Dressing Your Table – Dishes, Linen, and Flowers
Now that I’ve given you a few theme suggestions, let’s move on to dressing your table. As I’ve mentioned in my other Christmas Entertaining Posts, if you have Christmas dishes hiding away in a closet, get them out and use them. They will be perfect on your table.
This is also the time to bring out your fine linens. Cloth napkins are considered appropriate for a tea party, but if you are inviting a lot of guests, feel free to use pretty paper napkins (or even disposable plates.) Or borrow dishes from your mom or grandmother. I’m sure they would be quite pleased to help you out.
I like to dress my table in red, but white or green is also nice. Use what you have and decorate around those colors. Artificial flowers are in abundance during the holidays, even if it’s a simple candle ring. Add some candles to go with it for even more ambiance.
Be sure to send out invitations for your tea party, at least two weeks in advance. If you are ambitious, create name plates and menu cards for your guests to take home. Or your could also purchase pretty templates or items online. Etsy is a wonderful place to shop for such items.
Planning the Tea Menu
Once you have your tea party planning well on the way, it’s time to start thinking about your menu. Do you have any favorite family recipes for holiday appetizers, cookies, or desserts? If so, you might consider having some of those on the menu.
Most of my tea parties are planned with three courses of sandwiches (or savories), scones, and desserts. But my Christmas tea menus tend to expand. There are just so many wonderful foods during the holidays, it’s hard for me to narrow things down to a few items.
Here are some of my favorite dishes to include on a Christmas Tea Menu. Pick and choose as you want.
Course #1 – Sandwiches and Savories
Every winter, my grandma made Addicting Munchies Holiday Snack. The name is accurate as this is very addicting, and it’s the perfect snack to put out in a bowl when you have company come over during the holidays.
I’ve been making Ham Pecan Pinwheels for many years now, especially for holiday gatherings and tea parties. Roll sliced ham in a delicious spread of cream cheese, pecans, minced onion, and olives. They are so yummy, you’ll want to eat more than one.
Here’s an easy recipe to make Smoky Pimento Cheese Balls when you need finger foods for a party. The holidays will often call for a night of finger foods, especially when it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve.
Curried Chicken Tea Sandwiches are a favorite savory selection for our tea parties and is requested often. I first served it at our youngest daughter’s bridal shower tea party and have been making it ever since.
When it comes to tea party savories, Ham Salad Tea Sandwiches are one of my favorites. Sort of like a deviled ham salad with onion, celery, and pimento. Serve on thin slices of wheat or rye bread or spread thick on snack crackers.
Herbed Parmesan Spread aka Boursin is a delicious recipe to make this holiday season. It’s easy to make and incredibly flavorful. Serve it with your favorite crackers for holiday entertaining or at a Christmas tea party.
I’ve always enjoyed pimento cheese on a cracker or celery, or even in little tea sandwiches. This Homemade Pimento Cheese Spread will put the purchased product to shame. Made from simple ingredients with three kinds of cheese, chopped pimentos, mayo, and a few other things thrown in to give it a nice tang.
Course #2 – Scones and Quick Breads
While it’s traditional to serve scones for the first or second course, quick breads are also a great choice to include on your menu.
Poppy Seed Bread is a recipe I received from my Aunt Ruth. It’s a super moist bread to share with your loved ones and friends at Christmas and one of our favorites. And while it’s perfect to give as a Christmas food gift, you’ll want to save back a few loaves for your own enjoyment.
My grandma used to make Orange Nut Bread every Christmas. I like to make it every year to think of her, and to use as a holiday food gift. The orange flavor and pecans are perfect paired with a nice cup of warm tea.
I enjoy making Orange-Glazed Cranberry Fruitcake during the Christmas season. Made with dried cranberries, raisins, dates, figs, and pecans, it’s not your average fruitcake. Plus, it makes 8 small loaves, so it’s perfect for gift-giving for those on your fruitcake-lovers list.
Cranberry Pear Scones with Walnuts is a wonderful recipe to make during the holidays. Perfect for a weekend brunch, a snack, or even a holiday tea party. Filled with Bosc pears, fresh cranberries, and walnuts, then seasoned with the slightest bit of black pepper, they are quite delicious.
Enjoy Orange Cranberry Scones with a warm cup of tea in the morning or afternoon. This was the first scone recipe I ever made. The chopped cranberries and orange zest give them a wonderful warm flavor of Christmas.
This recipe for Orange Cream Scones with Currants is an adaptation of my English Scone recipe that is very similar, and yet I have been turning to this recipe more and more this past year. My daughters love the light orange flavor, and I do too!
Here is a traditional German recipe for Christmas Stollen with Marzipan. I love this sweet bread as a snack in the morning or afternoon with tea or coffee. The surprise marzipan treat in the center is probably my favorite! I’m like a kid that way, I guess.
Course #3 – Sweets
It’s easy to go crazy when choosing the sweets for your tea. There are so many holiday options out there. Try to limit your choices to 5 or 6, though, if possible! Here are some of my favorites.
These Cherry Pistachio Biscotti Cookies are absolutely wonderful. Crunchy butter cookies flavored with dried cherries and chopped pistachio nuts. So delicious, and perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
Chocolate-Coated Raspberry Spritz Cookies are a delicious addition to your next tea party or for the holidays. Sweet butter cookies dotted with a dab of raspberry jam and coated with rich dark chocolate on the bottom. So yummy!
Christmas Wreath Macaroons are so festive and delightful, I know you will enjoy making them for your Holiday Cookie Tray! Not only are they pretty, they are quite yummy, AND they are simple to make. Plus, they are gluten free, which is always nice to include during the Christmas season.
Holiday Cardamom Spice Cookies are perfect for a Christmas Tea Party or for gifting. Filled with warm spices, candied cherries, dried cranberries, and almonds, these triangular cookies are a fun addition to any holiday cookie tray. Plus, they are so delicious! Especially with a cup of hot tea.
These little Neapolitan Tea Cookies are full of flavor–strawberry, coconut, and chocolate–perfect for your next tea party!
I like to make Russian Tea Cakes during the holidays or for special tea parties. My granddaughter loves these little cookies–at least she loves licking the jam from the center! They are easy to make, too, which means they are kid-friendly.
Snowball Powdered Sugar Cookies are perfect for the holidays and especially sweet for tea parties! They are simply delightful, and practically melt in your mouth–like a snowball!
Try this classic recipe for English Shortbread with Pecans this holiday season. Perfect for an shared afternoon tea with a friend or loved one. Not too sweet, with the perfect amount of nuttiness from the pecans, plus hints of vanilla and orange. So good.
See even more of my Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes Here.
My mom makes these Buttery Pecan Tarts almost every Christmas. They are so yummy, with a buttery, cream cheese shell, and then more butter in the sweet pecan filling. They practically melt in your mouth! Perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
This Cranberry Bakewell Tart recipe is my attempt at a traditional British tea pastry. Lined with a buttery shortbread crust, and filled with almond cream (frangipane) and a thick delicious cranberry sauce, it received a thumbs up from our daughters.
Homemade Mincemeat Tarts are a wonderful addition to a tea party menu. Made from dried fruit and nuts, they are sweet and tart with a simple buttery pastry. So yummy!
Easy Lemon Tarts are sure to bring a smile to those who eat one! Tender pastries filled with luscious lemon pudding or curd and topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Perfect for a brunch or afternoon tea party, or simply as a finger food dessert.
Cakes and Other Treats
Glazed English Walnuts are delicious and there are so many ways to use them! As a Snack; For a Tea Party; On a Wine and Cheese Tray; With Fruit and Yogurt; In a Salad; With Pancakes and Syrup; On top of oatmeal. The possibilities are practically endless!
Glazed Lemon Madeleines are simply delightful to serve at your next tea party or possibly a Mother’s Day Brunch. Small bite-sized sponge cakes topped with a zesty lemon glaze. They’re adorable. Sweet. And delicious.
I like to make Tea Party Peppermint Meringues sometime during the holidays, whether before Christmas or even during the 12 Days of Christmas. Our girls adore them! It’s also a great way to use up those leftover Christmas candy canes!
Here’s a delicious recipe to make for your family during the holidays. Cranberry Pound Cake with Almonds is especially good after it has set for 1-2 days. It is amazingly flavorful and moist, and I love the added sweet bites of cranberries. So yummy!
Choosing the Tea and Beverages
Now that the menu has been decided, it’s time to pick your tea for the party. I like to include three different teas to go with each course, but it’s your choice. A simple black tea goes well with savories, while a cranberry or spice tea might be nice with scones.
There are many holiday teas to enjoy. Twinings has a nice selection of bagged teas, although I like to encourage you to use loose leaf teas, as they just tend to taste better. Harney and Sons have a large selection of holiday tea in loose leaf form.
It’s nice to also include a cold or warm drink for the menu that isn’t tea, such as a sparkling drink or mulled cider. Plan something for the children, too. I always like to serve them strawberry milk, which they love and always request.
Christmas Wassail with Pomegranate Juice is a delicious mulled drink to enjoy during the holiday season. Sweetened with pomegranate, apple, and pineapple juice and flavored with cinnamon sticks, it’s good served hot or over ice.
Games and Activities for Your Tea Party
I often like to end a tea party with some sort of game or activity. This might be a simple coloring activity, word game or knowledge-based quiz where you learn something new. Or it could be a Scavenger hunt, a game of Christmas Bingo, or even singing Christmas carols. Make your activity fit your theme and your guest list, to include children or attendees of all ages.
In conclusion, I hope this gives you many fun ideas for planning your own Christmas tea party. And remember that Christmas doesn’t end on December 25. In fact, that’s just the beginning of the celebration, so you still have time to prepare a Christmas themed tea party! Whether you decide to host a party this year or one day in the future, always remember to enjoy the moments!
“The very act of preparing and serving tea encourages conversation. The little spaces in time created by teatime rituals call out to be filled with conversation. Even the tea itself–warm and comforting–inspires a feeling of relaxation and trust that fosters shared confidences.” ~ Emilie Barnes