Five Possible Themes and Decorations for Your Christmas Tea Party

Christmas and the tea party naturally go together. The weather finally settles down to a consistent chill and the days are short. Christmas helps us celebrate all the cozy gifts of winter. When planning your Christmas tea, keep your favorite treats and gifts of the winter season in mind.


But first, here’s a few key tips for decorating in general. Pick a focal point in the room and on your table. It can be your centerpieces (keep them short!), brightly-colored napkins tucked in the water glasses, or all the food on one table buffet-style with themed decorations. For Christmas, think of colors apart from the traditional red and green. I suggest picking one of them, adding silver, gold, or white and adding a third non-traditional color like purple. Think how your colors can relate to your party’s theme.

Here’s a list of Tea Party Girl’s favorite winter treats and ideas to build tea party themes and decorations around them.*

  • Peppermints and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite–Play the music, of course. This theme is wonderful for children. They associate The Nutcracker with candy. Play up peppermints. They’re cheaper than fudge, and certainly better colored! Use red and white stripes wherever possible. Have a pretty glass jar or vase filled with old-fashioned peppermints on the tables. See if you can find inexpensive nutcracker or ballet shoes ornaments and offer them as favors to take home. Borrow the larger nutcrackers for decorating the room your tea will be held in. Put raspberry jam on the tables with a little teaspoon for the guests to stir into their tea, in honor of the Russian Mr. Tchaikovsky. Play up the candy theme as much as you like.
  • Christmas Bling–Bling is a slang term for elaborate jewelry and lifestyle, but used in taste, can turn into a great theme for a sparkly tea party. Encourage your guests to wear their diamonds, rhinestones, or whatever is appropriate. Use mirrors anywhere you can. Add large wire ribbons with sparkles to the backs of the chairs. Visit thrift stores and look for ostentatious pieces of costume jewelry. They can be attached to simple napkin rings or given as favors. Or use small potted trees for your centerpieces and add sparkly ornaments your guests can take home as favors.
  • St. Nicholas Day (December 6)–Use this theme to celebrate generosity, benevolence, and gift-giving. Consider how you can turn your Christmas tea into an opportunity for your guests to help provide for the needy and then reward them with a little surprise gift. Provide a large stocking and ask them to bring a gift of money or another you determine for a charity of your choice. Hang stockings from the backs of their chairs and add a small gift of chocolate-covered coins (St. Nicholas traditionally provided money to the needy), or other little luxury like candles or special hand lotion. Victorian children traditionally set out their shoes filled with something for the saint’s horse and found presents in them the next morning. Think creatively how you could use this idea for your centerpieces.
  • Candles and Firelight–This is one of the easiest themes to pull together, especially if your event takes place in the later part of the day. Strands of white lights with tulle can drape through your buffet table. Use candles (unscented!) everywhere that’s safe. Build a fire in the fireplace. This is another theme to incorporate mirrors into, as well as any gold or silver serving pieces you have available as they will reflect the light.
  • Christmas Carols–Below I’ve listed three of my favorite Christmas carols I would choose for a tea party theme. Be creative with your favorite carol or choose one of mine. For all, I would look for a pretty copy of the carol which includes the traditional chorale/instrumental music to incorporate somehow into my theme, possibly as the favor. A place to look would be old hymnals or online.
  • The Holly and the Ivy–If you are looking for a strong Christ-centered event, this beautiful hymn speaks not only of the Christ child, but the gift of his sacrifice as an adult. And if your leanings are more toward a country-style Christmas, this theme can help you bring in the outdoor gifts of winter. Use holly and its berries (with caution! Not recommended with children who might get stuck or put things in their mouths) with small ivy potted plants (ask your grocery store florist) for your centerpieces. Tie strings of ivy to the backs of the chairs and add these plants to your buffet table. Provide the lyrics and play the music.
  • The Carol of the Bells–I love bells at Christmas time and would use them everywhere if this was my tea party’s theme. Tie little bells to the handles of the teapots, the chairs, doorknobs, and servers. Find a good balance between the fun and the nuisance of this option! Play the song, and for fun, hold a contest to see which table can sing it the best, as this is not an easy task!
  • In the Bleak Midwinter–Winter Wonderland is an often-used theme because it’s so beautiful. Use white, off-white, glass, and silver everywhere you can. Incorporate snowflakes and doilies into your decorating. Tracy Stern’s “Tea Party” book outlines everything you need to know to plan a Winter White tea. Some of my favorite ideas of hers include snowflake-shaped invitations, fake snow or coconut scattered on the table under your flowers (white, of course), and the use of white chocolate with the food.
  • I trust this gives you some ideas to start your Christmas Tea Party planning. Continue to brainstorm and make these themes your own. And please refer to The Best of Tea Party Girl in my sidebar for continued direction about planning your event.

    Be sure to tell us about your Christmas Tea, ask your questions, and add your own ideas for the above themes in the comments.

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    1. doodah says:

      Thank you for these. I always love your tea party theme posts. I do have a question. You said, “Put raspberry jam on the tables with a little teaspoon for the guests to stir into their tea, in honor of the Russian Mr. Tchaikovsky.” I’m not familiar with this. Can you elaborate?

    2. Rebecca says:

      Great ideas! I really like the giving back idea. I also like your Carol of the Bells theme but would change it to Silver Bells as that’s one of my favorite songs. How about a White Christmas theme? I’d play some Bing Crosby Christmas music and put fake snow out, decorate with snowflakes – could give snowflake ornaments as favors. Oh, or have a gingerbread theme. I love planning parties though I don’t throw them very often. I hadn’t planned on having a tea but this could be a fun thing to do with my stepmom while I’m on vacation. My old church used to have a women’s tea every year around the holidays and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for the great ideas & inspiration!

    3. Hi Doodah, The Russians traditionally stir raspberry jam into their tea for the sweetener. Something fun and different, huh?

      Thanks, Rebecca, for your additions!

    4. Beth says:

      What a nice post. It got me thinking about planning a relaxing tea sometime before Christmas. Nice to read a holiday post without coming away from it in a panic of what I need to do before then. Thanks!

    5. MzRita says:

      Such excellent ideas! I really like the winter white theme, and also the nutcracker theme. I may mix and match ideas.

      For a party favor, I had thought about writing everyone’s name in calligraphy, and underneath the name, writing what their name means. Then, I will frame it with tiny inexpensive frames, to place at their place setting.

    6. Great idea, Rita. Coupling place cards with the favors is always a great idea. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to enjoy creating them!

    7. Liz says:

      I did a “Twelve Days of Christmas” tea last year for the ladies where I work and it was so fabulous. I want to do another one and was thinking of “White Christmas” (although I live in Florida!). Definitely playing “Bing’s song! Any thoughts on putting this together? I can envision it with silver and ice blue, snowflakes, icicles. A cute little “White Christmas” tree. Maybe even for a favor a Victorian Friendship Ball.

    8. Brenda says:

      Love your ideas, last year at our church I did a ladies tea the theme was snowflakes. I got most of the decorations at the dollar store and had a white tree decorated with white, silver and blue it was georgeous/ for the exchange gift I had the ladies bring a wrapped ornament of a snowflake it was a great evening/ I had glass vases filled with white fake snow and placed the blue poinsetta, and sprayed branches with silver to put in the vase. I had lots of comments.

    9. I love the idea of incorporating bells into the theme of your Christmas party…it seems obvious but I have never really though about doing it. Thanks for all of the wonderful tips. Great blog.

    10. Carol Moore says:

      Please give me some ideas about a CASUAL mountain country Christmas tea. I would like to plan a Christmas tea for this coming Christmas 2010. I live in the TN mountains and I think that it would unique to have a “Mountain Country Christmas Tea” – but I’m not sure how to plan it. Maybe bells, what music, how many people are tooooooo many???

      Thanks, Carol Moore

    11. WendyC says:

      I’m planning a ladies’ Christmas tea for our church. We’ll have up to two dozen ladies. This blog and the comments have all been very helpful for me as I research ideas! I read the request for ideas on the mountain Christmas tea and ideas immediately came to mind: bluegrass or fiddle Christmas music in the background, red gingham tablecloths, mugs rather than tea cups, natural-looking centrepieces (with rafia, pinecones, apples, evergreen, nuts, candy canes, etc), casual attire for the attendees, coloured lights and candles (rather than all white), homey goodies to eat (rather than fancy/dainty goodies). I think it’d be extra neat to also have hot cider available to drink.

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