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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