Is it your turn to play hostess for the book club holiday party?

Are you overwhelmed at the thought of having plates full of leftover cookies from your annual cookie party?

Do you want a way to keep things a little simpler this Christmas as you celebrate with friends?

All of these problems can be solved with one fantastic solution:

Host a holiday tea party!

Despite what you may see on London travel websites or Downton Abbey, taking afternoon tea does not have to be a fancy affair. It offers the perfect combination of warmth on a cold snowy day and the opportunity to sample new tastes without going overboard. You can put together a tea party in less time than it takes to explain the rules of the ornament exchange (again) to everyone. Here’s your How to Host a Holiday Tea Party checklist.

Pick a date and time.
While a tea party is best in the afternoon (so everyone has time to come down from the caffeine buzz) it can also be an evening affair. The time of day you choose to have your tea will dictate the varieties of teas you will share with your guests. When you send out the invitations, ask everyone to bring their own tea cup (for easier clean up).

Plan your tea menu.
I would suggest serving 3-5 teas at your party. You want some variety for the fun of it plus you want to meet the needs of your guests, some of whom may not like or be able to drink caffeinated beverages. Just before Thanksgiving Mama Jean’s Natural Market helped me host a holiday tea, in the evening, for my clients. Our tea menu was as a follows:

  1. Blackberry Sage black tea (Republic of Tea)
  2. Pumpkin Spice Tea black tea (Republic of Tea)
  3. Milk Oolong
  4. Good Hope Vanilla roobis tea (Republic of Tea)
  5. Hot Apple Cider herbal tea (Republic of Tea)

I might also suggest a jasmine or genmaicha green tea to round out the tea varieties.  Using bagged tea will make preparation and clean up much easier. Just look for bagged teas that are whole leaf if possible.

Choose a simple selection of tea foods.
Mama Jean’s made this easy for me! The staff planned an amazing menu that can use as template for your own tea party.

  • Roasted Sweet Potato Slices topped with garlic hummus (olives and green onions, optional)
  • Autumn Brussels Sprouts Salad (recipe courtesy of Karen Brooks-Pender from the Republic Rd Mama Jean’s see below.)
  • Quinoa Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Raw Date Balls
  • Apple Crisp (This is another recipe courtesy of Mama Jean’s see below.)

We had more than enough food for 10 people so feel free to select only 2-3 dishes for your tea party. Make the tea the focus, not the food.

Make sure you have other supplies in addition to food and tea.
You may need extra napkins or small plates but silverware needs should be limited. Make sure you do have one or two pots of hot water for the guests to use to make their cups of tea as well as a place to dispose of tea bags.

Plan an activity or two.
If you don’t have a book to discuss you might consider putting out playing cards, trivia games or any other activity that might spur laughs or conversation. If you and your friends are crafty have them bring their knitting or scrapbook pages along.

The day of the party all you have to do is set the table, find the Christmas station on Pandora, make a simple dish or two and boil some water!

What’s your favorite low stress way to have fun with friends over the holidays? Do you have a favorite holiday blend of tea?

Autumn Brussels Sprouts Salad

Roast 2 qts halved and rinsed Brussels sprouts in olive oil with salt and pepper.
In a separate pan heat 2 cups of orange juice and ½ cup maple syrup and add 1 cup each dried and fresh cranberries.
Bring to a boil, letting the fresh cranberries “pop” and the mixture thicken. Cool.
Chop Romaine lettuce and toss together with pecans and other ingredients once they have completely cooled.
Adjust flavor and ingredients to desired visual and taste.

Apple Crisp

In a pan mix:
6 cups diced apples
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup golden raisins and
1 dash of salt

In a separate dish mix the topping ingredients:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup Earth Balance Vegan Butter Spread.

Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until brown.

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