Our Family Afternoon Tea Christmas Tradition

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Since our oldest turned 12 a couple months ago, most of our Christmas traditions have been around for nearly a decade now. We’ve we’ve done our Bethlehem dinner on Christmas Eve for at least that long, and we’ve eaten the same food for our Christmas meals for about the same amount of time. But a family Christmas afternoon tea is newer to us!

But in December of 2020, when most activities away from home were canceled and we all needed a bit of extra fun, we decided to do a fancy afternoon tea. And we loved it!! It was such a fun activity that could take as much or as little effort as we wanted to give it. Here are details of how we do it!

When to Host a Christmas Afternoon Tea

For the past 3 years, we’ve held our Christmas family tea on the Sunday before Christmas. We’re generally dressed up in our Christmas outfits for church, anyway, so it helps it feel a bit fancy and special.

We usually start our tea around 4 or 4:30. There are so many evening activities during December that my kids get pretty tired (and so do I!), so it’s nice to have something start a bit earlier. We usually spend about an hour or so enjoying it all, so it totally counts for an early dinner, and then we clean up and have time for our daily Christmas advent activities or even a movie before bed.

Christmas Afternoon Tea Foods

We like to do our Christmas tea a bit later in the afternoon so we can do it after naps and count it for dinner, too (I have no interest in adding an extra meal during this season). So we always have an assortment of savory and sweet things to eat, as well as some fun drinks. Some years, we make more of the items. Other years, we take full advantage of the frozen aisle at Trader Joe’s (another grocery store works fine, too, but TJ’s tends to have quality and special frozen items, like macarons and cream puffs).

Here’s are some of the foods we’ve included in the past:

  • Cucumber, cream cheese, & mint finger sandwiches
  • Comte, mustard, & arugula finger sandwiches on rye
  • Mini caprese sandwiches on a baguette
  • Tartines with goat cheese, pears, and candied pecans
  • Quiche
  • Cheese & crackers (we love chevre, a creamy brie, and burrata)
  • Scones with clotted cream & jam
  • Macarons
  • Mini cream puffs
  • Sticky toffee pudding
  • Yule log

And here are some of our favorite teas and other drinks with kids:

  • Hot cinnamon spice (the very best tea forever and ever, amen)
  • Peppermint
  • Sparkling cider or sparkling sugar plum (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Tea from our travels (we love picking this up in different places around the world)

Christmas Tea Serving Items

You can easily do this with your regular dishes and it would be fun and magical. But since we have a few special items, we like pulling them out for our tea. Here’s what we use:

  • Our wedding china
  • Jute place mats (similar to these)
  • Gold chargers (similar to these)
  • Gold utensils
  • Two-tier server and three-tier server we got these for a party 3 years ago and I’ve been shocked at just how useful they’ve been in so many situations
  • Teapot with infuser – this is great for loose tea to make a larger batch if multiple people want the same kind
  • Silicone individual tea infuser – I put these in our kids’ stockings probably 4 or 5 years ago and they’ve gotten tons of use. Great if everyone wants a different kind of tea.
  • Ceramic tea pot with sugar dish & creamer (similar to this and this) – we fill the pot with hot water to fill individual cups and everyone can add their own cream and sugar
  • Christmas tableware

It’s seriously the most fun and simple tradition that we love. It would be perfect for Christmas Eve or even Christmas afternoon if you like to get dressed up then. Please let me know if you add it into your Christmas celebrations this year!



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