A Christmas Tea

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Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without having a Christmas Tea at Grandma's house. This is a special occasion where everyone gets dressed up and puts on their best manners. The afternoon is spent talking, laughing, eating and reading Christmas stories in our candle-lit dining room.

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This past year (2009) there was snow on the ground for our Christmas Tea which made it even more special. Since all the big kids were working and we couldn’t get their schedules together, there was only one tea for the younger ones. In my travels this year, I found some new, cute ideas. One was to make reindeer out of bottles of Hank’s Root Beer. Pipe cleaners, ribbon, a bell, google eyes and some glue is all it took.

The table is set for tea! Some of the items on the menu were Bugles stuffed with icing amd dipped in red and green sprinkles; Frosted grapes; Hot Diggity Dogs (slices of hotdog on a cracker with a drop of catsup and mustard and heated for about 5 minutes); pickles, of course!; cookie-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches (Grandpa ate the leftover scraps once these were cut out!); Red & Green Jello Parfaits with whipped cream and sprinkles and Maraschino Cherry Cookies and lots of different kinds of red and green candy.

The food was a hit this year and pretty much devoured. They especially liked the cut-out cheese sandwiches! I am always amazed at what strikes their fancy. And they looked forward to see which Christmas teapot is their for the morning.


Red & Green Jello Parfaits

Root Beer Reindeer Bottles
Root Beer Reindeer bottles are an easy-to-make favor or craft. (I found the idea on HappyBird's Crafting Haven)  You can use brown root beer or even cola bottles.  I used Hank's Root Beer and they were the perfect size.  You will need a 4 or 6-pack of soda; brown pipe cleaners; red pom-poms for the nose (10mm); googly eyes (10 mm); bells and narrow ribbon.  Take 2 brown pipe cleaners and twist one below the bottom part of the cap.  Cut the other pipe cleaner in half and twist each half around the  middle part of each stem.  Bend the stems to look like reindeer antlers. (see my picture).  Using a hot glue gun, glue the eyes and nose on the bottle.  Cut a length of ribbon that will fit around the bottle with enough to tie it in the back.  Then thread the ribbon through the bell (cut a sharp slant on one end of the ribbon so it fits through the bell more easily.  Hang it around the neck of the bottle and put a drop of hot glue on the back to hold it securely in place.

Hot Diggity Dogs (slices of hotdog on a cracker with a drop of catsup and mustard and heated for about 5 minutes)
Cherry Roll-ups

Maraschino Cherry Cookies

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1/3 c. confectioners sugar
2 c. flour
1 (16 oz.) jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained and patted dry with paper towel

Mix ingredients together for dough. Roll out and cut into strips 3-inches long and 1-inch wide. Lay cherry on dough and roll up and seal end (stem will be sticking out 1 end of dough and you will see the bottom of the cherry on the other end). Lay cookies on lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Once they are cool, the cookies will stand up and you can pick them up by the stem to pop one in your mouth. Pretty neat!

Candy Cane Bark
Heat white chocolate or white melts over hot water. Be careful, white chocolate burns easily. Stir in crush candy cane–you can use red and white or green and white – whatever you prefer–or a combination of both. Pour it out on a baking sheet and smooth it so it is about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Let harden and break into pieces. Keeps well in air-tight container. Makes a great hostess gift, too.
Christmas Tree Pops
The idea for these pops came from www.Bakerell,com. You’ll find lots of ideas there. For these, I made a red velvet cake and mixed it with creamy vanilla icing. After shaping them, by hand, put long lollipop sticks (available at craft stores) in them. Dip them in melted dark green chocolate and while they are still soft stick a star on the stop and cover them with sprinkles. To hold them upright, stick them in a piece of styrofoam. Once they are firm, you can wrap them individually in small plastic bags or stand them in a heavy glass. These would make cute gifts for kids to give their friends, too!
A Christmas Tea 2008

Read this great poem "A Cup of Christmas Tea" by Tom Hegg.
A Christmas Tea - 2008
We had two Teas this Christmas -- one for "the Big Kids" and one for "the Little Kids." Since their tastes in food are totally different, one group would not enjoy the other's faire! 
The favors were adorable "Nose Repair Kits." These were printed on my computer and stapled to small snack zipper bags. In each bag was a hand-full of red sour jelly balls. I think the 'little kids' ate these before they had their first cup of tea!
The menus varied:  Cranberry Scones with Clotted Cream, Mini Spinach Cheese & Ham Cups. Holiay Deviled eggs, Super Potato Skins and Snow Balls and Peanut Butter Mouse Cookies for dessert.
The second menu included, Sausage wrapped in a Scrambled Egg, Hot dog slices on a Cracker, Holiday Bugles (of course!), Dill Pickles, Snowmen Pretzel Sticks, Jello Molds, Sugared Grapes and Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Pinwheel Sandwiches. And everyone gets their own Christmas teapot with their choice of tea.
For years, I have gone to the library and gotten Christmas story books with beautiful pictures and read to them. No matter how old they are--the older ones are now in their 20s -- and they still like to hear these stories.  A sweet tradition, too!
RECIPES
See the new recipes and ideas below.
A Christmas Tea - 2006
Remember the plastic trees (from the 1950's maybe) that gumdrops were put on each point? I found one at Goodwill this year. I wanted to use it, but without gumdrops. So I dipped small pretzels in chocolate and on a piece of wax paper, I over lapped them in the shape of a wreath while the chocolate was still hot. When they cooled and hardened, I wove ribbon through them and hung them on the tree. Of course, we had to eat a few before the tea began!
This year we made a simple, but adorable, gingerbread house. I made 2 jelly roll pans of gingerbread ahead of time. Then using a pattern I cut out of cardboard, I cut out the gingerbread house. I covered a heavy piece of cardboard with foil, and put the cut-out house on that. Then when we were done eating–but not done drinking tea! – I gave the boys their own house to decorate.
I had a can of white icing for each one and small bowls of decorations that included, peppermint sticks, chicklets, rice chex and other small, colorful candies. Each set out to work and you can see them proudly display their creations here.
The KRISPIE SANTA
was a real hit! Make rice krispie candy (recipe follows). While it is still warm and soft (but not too hot to burn your hands) rub butter on your hands and form a handful into a small rectangle. As soon as it is formed, push a popsicle stick into the one end. Leave enough stick out so it is easy to hold. Lay on wax paper to cool. When cool, dip each one into melted chocolate and decorate it with icing to look like a Santa. These can also be dipped in white chocolate and decorated to look like snowmen.
Marshmallow Treats
1/4 c. margarine or butter
4 c. marshmallows (about 40)
5 c. rice krispies

Melt butter in large saucepan; add marshmallows and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until marshmallows are melted and mixture is syrupy. Remove from heat. Add rice krispies and stir until well coated. Press warm mixture into 9 x 13 pan or mold as directed above.
Nataley's Gingerbread House
2005
In 2005 we did something new. We decorated and baked gingerbread cookies to take home. I had the dough made and cookies cut out and on baking sheets ahead of time. All the decorating sugar, jimmies and icing were on another tray (to catch some of the spills!) It turned out to be a treat for all of us -- even when Grandma dropped a tray of cookies on the floor!

This year's menu included Peanut Butter-Marshmallow Pinwheel Sandwiches, Scrambled Eggs cut in Christmas shapes with a cookie cutter, Hot Dog and Pickle in Tortilla, Molded Christmas Boot Jello, Pancake & Sausage Roll, Bugle Horns, and, of course, sugared grapes. The dessert this year was a Reindeer Cookie in a dish of ice cream. As you can tell, this menu was created for "picky" eaters. I used the the food I knew they would eat and worked around that. Gourmet it wasn't -- but there wasn't a crumb left over!

Christmas Tea Party Favor Ideas
Party Favors

Another great idea for a take-home gift is to buy some inexpensive snowman mugs, and put a baggie of hot chocolate mix and mini marshmallows in it -- tied with a red ribbon. The next day when they drink their hot chocolate, the children can talk about the tea.

I also made snowmen out of marshmallows. Take a small pretzel stick and gently force it through two large marshmallows. Using vanilla icing, "glue" a flattened gumdrop on the top for a hat brim and another on top of that to finish it off. Take a tiny dab of icing on mini chocolate chips and stick to the front for eyes and nose. The scarf is a strip of fruit roll-ups. I cut it with scissors into long strips and then just looped it around the neck. The kids loved these -- ate a bunch of them with their tea!

Candle Favors

These were so easy to make. Wrap a package of lifesavers in red or green tissue or wrapping paper and tape or glue closed. Glue that to a small peppermint patty and then glue a golden Hershey kiss on the top. Easy, cute and yummy!

Click photos to enlarge

Napkin Holders

Make your tea or dinner extra special with festive napkin holders. These are fast and easy to make. No sewing or glueing is necessary. Just draw your pattern on the felt and cut it out. Simple and fast. Felt works the best because it has more body than cotton fabric. Using the picture as a diagram, cut 1 of each of the following: the long red piece is 9 inches long, the green "star" is 7 inches and the red star is 5 inches. (This is from point to point).

Cut a 3/4 inch slit in the center of the green and red star. Now put the green and red stars together -- lining up the slit. Take the ends of the long red strip and push them through the slit of the 2 stars. Repeat with the other end. Adjust the ends so they look like a flower and there is a nice- sized loop on the bottom side for a napkin. My felt pieces were also sprayed with a light glitter before they were cut.

Christmas Tree favors

This year I found cardboard tree-shaped boxes with a clear cellophane top. I simply painted them green, and then painted them again with a sparkle glaze. They are filled with gum balls.
Sleigh Favors

Pack of gum (like Dentyne or Trident),
2 candy canes,
3 mini candy bars,
3 wrapped mints,
3 Hershey kisses

Using a hot glue gun, glue the gum to the candy canes so they stand up and look like sleigh runners.Glue the candy bars on next, then the mints and kisses.

Root Beer Reindeer Bottles
Root Beer Reindeer bottles are an easy-to-make favor or craft. (I found the idea on HappyBird's Crafting Haven)  You can use brown root beer or even cola bottles.  I used Hank's Root Beer and they were the perfect size.  You will need a 4 or 6-pack of soda; brown pipe cleaners; red pom-poms for the nose (10mm); googly eyes (10 mm); bells and narrow ribbon.  Take 2 brown pipe cleaners and twist one below the bottom part of the cap.  Cut the other pipe cleaner in half and twist each half around the  middle part of each stem.  Bend the stems to look like reindeer antlers. (see my picture).  Using a hot glue gun, glue the eyes and nose on the bottle.  Cut a length of ribbon that will fit around the bottle with enough to tie it in the back.  Then thread the ribbon through the bell (cut a sharp slant on one end of the ribbon so it fits through the bell more easily.  Hang it around the neck of the bottle and put a drop of hot glue on the back to hold it securely in place.
Snacks & Such
Pretzel Sticks
Pretzel Sticks are another quick and easy to make snack or treat.  You can also buy skinny plastic bags at craft stores that would fit over one or two of these.  Tie them off with a red or green bow and you have a cute gift for a teacher, grandparent or neighbor. Take long pretzel rods and dip about one-half of the rod into melted white chocolate. Have different color Christmas sprinkles in bowls or on wax paper.  After you dip the pretzels, hold them so some of the excess chocolate drips off and then roll them in your choice of sprinkles.  They harden very fast and you can lay them on a piece of wax paper or foil while you finish the rest.
Tasty Bites

TASTY BITES
1 package (10 oz.) refrigerated pizza dough
2 oz. lean ham or turkey ham, chopped
1/2 c. (2 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 425. Coat 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Unroll dough and cut into 12 (4x3-inch) rectangles. Divide ham and cheese between dough rectangles. Bring corners of dough together and pinch to seal. Place, smooth side up in muffin cups. Brush tops with egg. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. Makes 12 servings.

Hot Pizza Dip
HOT PIZZA DIP
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 c. pizza sauce
2 ounces pepperoni, chopped
2 Tbls. sliced black olives (opt.)

In small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, oregano, parsley and basil. Spread mixture in bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese on top of the cream cheese mixture. Spread the pizza sauce over all. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then top with pepperoni and olive slices (2 Tbls. chopped green pepper can also be used as topping). Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 16 servings.

Southwestern Black Bean Tortilla Bites
30 to 35 triangular shaped (restaurant-style) tortilla chips
(unbroken pieces).
1 (15 oz.) can black beans or pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1/4 c. thick and chunky salsa
1 Tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
6 oz. (1 1/2 cups) shredded cheese (Monterey Jack)
1/2 c. sour cream

Arrange tortilla chips in single layer on ungreased cookie sheets. In small bowl, combine beans, salsa and chopped cilantro; mix well. Place about 2 teaspoons bean mixture on center of each tortilla chip. Sprinkle cheese evenly over chips. Broil 4-6 inches from heat for 1 1/2 to 4 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish each with ? tsp. Sour cream. 30-35 appetizers or snacks

Curried Chicken Snack Rolls
1 1/4 c. finely chopped cooked chicken
2 Tbls. parsley flakes
2 Tbls. plus 1 cup of finely crushed herb-flavored croutons
1/4 tsp. curry powder
3 Tbls mayonnaise
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1/4 c. melted margarine.
Heat oven to 375. Combine all the ingredients (using 2 Tbls. of crushed croutons) except crescent rolls. Separate dough into 4 rectangles; firmly press perforations to seal. Press or roll each to form 10x5 rectangle. Spread 1/4 of the chicken mixture on each rectangle to within 1/2 inch of edges. Starting at longest side, roll up; pinch seams to seal. Cut each roll into 3 pieces. Dip each piece in melted margarine then in remaining 1 cup of crushed croutons. Place seam side down on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve warm. Makes 12 snacks. (If desired, use curried mayonnaise or mustard for dipping)
Hot Diggety Dogs
(These are as much fun as their name!)
20 saltine crackers
5 slices cheese, quartered
2 hot dogs
catsup, mustard & pickle relish

Place crackers on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with cheese, catsup, mustard and/or relish. Cut each hot dog into 10 slices; place one slice on each cracker. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Yield 20 snacks.

Bugle Horns
Fill bugles with icing, using a small tip on a cake decorator (or put icing in a sandwich bag and cut a tiny piece off the corner and squeeze the icing through that). Make sure the bugle is filled completely. Then dip the open end into colored sugar. The sugar will stick to the icing in the end of the bugle. These can be made ahead of time and will keep well for several days. Do not refrigerate.
Pancake Sausage Rolls
Heat brown and serve sausages and drain well. Make small (3 - 4 inches across) pancakes. Put sausage on pancake, fold up both sides to meet in the middle and secure with a toothpick to hold it together. Serve with small individual dishes of syrup for dipping. Delicious!!!
Christmas Tree Pancakes or French Toast with Sausage

How easy and fun these were. Make whatever your guests like. I made both! Make pancakes, removing them from the pan to a plate or flat tray where you can cut them in triangle shapes. For French Toast, just cut the bread in half.

Have the sausage already to serve. Layer 3 triangles over lapping one another and sprinkle with green sugar. Tuck 2 sausages underneath and voila! A Christmas tree.

Pickle Recipes!
Frickles
(Don't you just love this name?)
1 c. flour
1 c. yellow cornmeal
2 Tbls. your favorite barbecue rub
1/4 c. mustard
2 Tbls water or clear soda (Sprite, 7-Up)
Medium jar (8-12 oz.) dill pickle slices
Oil for frying

Heat the oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees. Mix together the flour, cornmeal and season the mixture with the barbecue rub. Mix the mustard and water together. Dip the pickle slices in the mustard mixture and then in the flour-cornmeal mixture. Using tongs, slip pickle slices into the hot oil. Deep fry until the batter is browned. Pickles will float to the top when done. Remove them from the hot oil with tongs and drain on paper towels. Makes 6-8 servings.

Fried Pickles
Fried Pickles
  • Dill/kosher pickle strips (wiped dry)
  • Flour with a little salt and pepper stirred in

Coat the pickle with flour and carefully drop in hot oil and french fry until the coating is brown. Remove the pickle from the oil with a slotted spoon and put on paper towels to drain. These are even good cold.

Pickle Sandwiches
Pickles (dill, kosher, sweet gherkins)
Slice of bread with the crust cut off

Spread bread with thin layer of cream cheese. Lay pickle on one side of it and roll it up like a jelly roll. Press the end of the bread to seal it. Take all your rolls and put them in the refrigerator, covered, for several hours. Just before you are ready to serve them, cut them across (like pinwheels) and arrange them on a plate. Stand back! They'll take them off the plate before it hits the table!

Hot Dog & Pickle Tortilla Rolls
Spread a 7- or 8-inch tortilla with thin layer of cream cheese. Cut a hot dog lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut dill pickle into strips and wipe any juice off with a paper towel. (It must be dry or it will not hold together). Lay strips of hot dog on the tortilla and roll it one time. Then add a strip of pickles and roll up entire tortilla -- pressing end to hold it together. Cut tortilla in 1-inch pieces to serve.
Christmas Tea Desserts
Chocolate Marshmallow Sticks
Using a long thin skewer, push it through 2 marshmallows -- but not coming through the top one. Quickly dip the marshmallows in melted chocolate and then roll them is colored sprinkles. Lay on wax paper until the chocolate is firm.
Marshmallow Pinwheel Sandwiches

Cut the crust off a piece of bread and spread with peanut butter and then marshmallow spread. Carefully roll into pinwheel shape, pressing end to hold it together. Slice into 3-4 slices, depending on how thick you want them.

Reindeer Cookies
Dip Nutter-Butter cookies in melted chocolate, covering entire cookie. Lay on waxed paper to cool and harden. While chocolate is still soft, press "eyes" near top in the appropriate place (I found these "eyes" in a cake decorating store). Take 2 pieces of broken pretzels, dip the one end in melted chocolate and stick it on the top of the cookie in the soft chocolate.
Snowman Ice Cream Dessert
Put a cookie sheet in the freezer to chill. Slightly soften vanilla ice cream. Scoop out about 1 cup (more or less) and shape into a ball with your hands -- working quickly. Place it on chilled tray. Make a second ball and put it on top of the first one. Use chocolate chips, for eyes and buttons, orange slice cut in nose shape for the nose and pretzel sticks for arms. Put in freezer to harden. When snowmen are hard, (about 30 minutes) cut strips of fruit roll-up about 6-8 inches long and wrap between 2 balls to make a scarf. In the meantime, take ice cream cones and with a serrated knife, cut cone in half where the cone gets narrow. Then put the longer narrow piece into the wider piece (this is to make the cone shorter). Melt chocolate chips over hot water and brush over cone, covering completely. Put on wax paper to dry. When ready to serve, remove snowmen from freezer and use a flat spatula to lift them off the tray. Put them on a serving plate and top with cone hat! (These can be made days ahead of time?wrapping well when they are frozen)

Christmas Tea 2004
This year's menu included Peanut Butter-Marshmallow Pinwheel Sandwiches, Scrambled Eggs cut in Christmas shapes with a cookie cutter, Hot Dog and Pickle in Tortilla, Molded Christmas Boot Jello, Pancake & Sausage Roll, Bugle Horns, and, of course, sugared grapes. The dessert this year was a Reindeer Cookie in a dish of ice cream. As you can tell, this menu was created for "picky" eaters. I used the the food I knew they would eat and worked around that. Gourmet it wasn't -- but there wasn't a crumb left over!!