Sunday, December 23

Let's put together a Holiday Champagne Tea for easy entertaining

Join me for a Holiday Tea 
as I offer helpful easy tips and a cookie recipe to boot...

Let's be honest, holiday entertaining does not always come easy.  It is a treat to welcome  guests into our home, light the candles, plug in the tree then pass the champagne.  But, often times during the holidays that is merely a fantasy since we are in a frantic state to get holiday cards in the mail, attend our kid's concerts, shop and wrap gifts and head off for all the holiday cheer.  This year I am not prepared for it all, yet I have friends stopping by on Christmas eve for a cup of cheer.  Easy enough because there is no elaborate cooking and I bring out the many cookies we baked for the holidays, whip up some finger sandwiches, create an easy hot chocolate station for the kids and pop the champagne.  

I hope this inspires you to do the same...
I know pink is not usually a color associated with the holidays but I add pops of pink with accessories and Christmas decorations because it softens the greens, reds and golds a bit while adding a sentimental feel to the holiday decor.
Come take a look at how we put together a 
Christmas Eve Tea
this tea can be done for New Years Day too 
I picked up these pretty 12 days of Christmas plates at Williams Sonoma's after holidays sale a few years ago and they are the perfect dish for an afternoon tea - they are not too large, yet big enough to hold cookies and finger sandwiches
easy tip #1:  make self-service areas for guests to help themselves to food and drink to create a casual, yet elegant atmosphere
easy tip #2:  stock up on Sarabeth Kitchen's jam - 
 perfect with scones and butter

the Cookies
 a cute kid serving cookies to guests is always a plus
 Okay, these cookies are beautiful and homemade to boot, but I say during the holidays cheating a little is a good thing.  A stress free host is a happy host.  If you don't have time to make elaborate cookies, head on over to your favorite bakery and splurge on some pretty  designed cookies to adorn your tea party.

a hot chocolate station packs a fun punch
easy tip #3:  a hot chocolate station
with a parent pouring to prevent accidents - I make a pitcher of hot chocolate and put it in a thermos with sides of peppermint, marshmallow and whipped cream.
no children at the party?  
opt for a mulled cider punch instead, and you have the option of spiking it as well
the Food
for finger sandwiches
I like to use thin sliced bread, cut the crust off then mix it up for a variety - cream cheese and cucumber (cut those cucumbers very thin) with avocado, ham and brie, salmon with capers.
deviled eggs can be made before and kept in an airtight container
other ideas: 
deviled eggs, fresh fruit on skewers, chocolate dipped strawberries, scones (I buy Sarabeth's frozen scones from Fresh Direct and pop them in the oven for homemade tasting scones), prosciutto wrapped bread sticks, peppermint sticks, holiday decorated cookies

 The flowers

I'm admiring these hot pink peonies at NYC wholesale flower market

To me, roses signify Christmas
and my mom always had a fresh cut bouquet of roses on our table every Christmas morning.
If I am in a rush, I opt for a single color rose arrangement because set against my holiday greenery and tree it's just the right amount of color. If I have time to arrange a more elaborate flower arrangement I like to use  cranberry peonies, hydrangeas, lemon leaves and roses combined

easy tip #4:  a note about garland and wreaths:  I prefer fresh boxwood to drape around my fireplace mantel.  It stays dark green when it dries and sheds considerably less than pine and other greens. 

Tamara's homemade chocolate pecan sandie cookies

 easy tip #5:  well, this may not be that easy, so go with my store bought idea above if you need easy, but it certainly is rewarding to make these cookies with your kids, friends or family.  Here's the recipe --  my homemade chocolate pecan sandies come in handy when I need a delicious cookie recipe and I have time to bake - with my trusty helper, Miles, we make them for our tea party.  Although they are decadent, they are gluten free, which is a plus.

Tamara's flour-less chocolate pecan sandies
3 C confectioners' sugar
3/4 C Dutch cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 C chopped pecans
4 large egg whites, room temp
Preheat oven to 325.

Whisk sugar, cocoa, and salt.
Stir in melted Chocolate that is cooled a bit  (melt over a double boiler on low - do not boil and stir often)
and pecans.
Add egg whites and stir only a little bit.

Drop dough in ice cream scoop, 3 inches apart to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Cookies are done when top is slightly dry and crackled - 25 minutes.
let cookies cool completely.
sprinkle confectioner's sugar on top when cooled

cookies, finger sandwiches, fruit, tea, a hot chocolate station and, of course, champagne - voila -
this rose champagne is one of the most delicious champagnes I have had
Alfred Gratien
a festive Holiday Tea is born
Happy Nesting
and a
Very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year XO

photography by Gabby Stephenson