Afternoon tea has turned into one of the most popular day-time dining events of the 21st century.We all love to go and treat ourselves to a posh afternoon tea (with or without a glass of Champagne) – it’s the perfect excuse for long uninterrupted chats amongst friends or family.
So, what does afternoon tea consist of?
Well, the formula is virtually the same, wherever you go. It starts with the savoury bits – usually sandwiches, and possibly a speciality bread with smoked salmon or another baked savoury. Then scones, which may or may not be warm, with cream and jam. Then cake. Then something special, usually in a shot glass. Add as much tea or Prosecco as you can drink, and there you have it.
Simple, isn’t it? And yet so expensive in many places..
With this in mind, and if you’re keen to have family or friends over without taking up their precious spare time during the run-up to Christmas, why not try a Christmas Afternoon tea at your house?
Perhaps have it as a drop-in event on a Sunday afternoon in December?
It’s a lovely way to see all those important people; to catch up with family news, and to see how much the next generation has grown since the last get-together!
I must state immediately that in our house, we rarely serve tea unless it’s specially requested.. 😉
Here’s a suggested menu for your Afternoon tea:
- Tea/ Coffee
- Various juices/cordials for the kids
- Non-Alcoholic Apple Punch – warm
- Mulled Cider https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/mulled-cider/
- Tasters of this year’s Sloe Gin and Blackberry Liqueur – well, in my house anyway!
- Chicken Liver Parfait https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/my-chicken-liver-pate/
- Tapenade – with crisp crostini https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/black-olive-and-sundried-tomato-tapenade/
- Finger sandwiches: Last year – egg and spring onion, Ham and cheese, and Chicken, Cream cheese and grapes – a favourite of our cousin Elisabeth’s Another great one, which caters for the vegetarians is Houmous with grated carrot..
- Red onion Marmalade and Goat’s Cheese roll-ups https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/goats-cheese-and-red-onion-marmalade-roll-ups/
- Cocktail sausages and sausage rolls – for the kids – and those who are kids at heart!
- My simple scones,https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/home-made-scones/ with homemade jam and cream.
- Delia’s Stem Ginger Cake, in its Christmas disguise 😉 https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/preserved-ginger-cake-with-lemon-icing/
- The All-in-One Chocolate cake – specially for the kids.. https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/hilarys-all-in-one-chocolate-cake/
- Mince Pies (I only remembered them very late on, so people got to take a few home!)
- Individual Tiramisu https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/raspberry-tiramisu/
- Cranaghan https://eatingforireland.com/recipe/atholl-brose-or-cranachan/
These, and lots of other recipes are on the Eating for Ireland site at www.eatingforireland.com – please feel free to check it out!
Handy Hints for a Family Afternoon Tea:
- I think a ‘drop-in’ event is a good idea. I usually say something like 3-6pm on a Sunday afternoon, and make sure that everyone knows that the end time is not set in stone, so late-comers will still be happy to turn up.
- Get your invitations out early! If you have a family WhatsApp group, then it is really easy. Elder family members can pass the time and date along to the next generation, or you could send out invitations, as I did one year when I got a great deal from a photographic website!
- Start off with the savoury stuff – slightly older children love to take part by carrying plates around and offering some goodies. It’s also a great ice-breaker if, like us, you have cousins who don’t know each other too well.
- I tend to leave the sweet stuff out for people to help themselves. The older family members will be delighted if some kind youngster brings them something sweet later on too!
- It’s an issue that’s become so common that it’s always a good idea to ask in advance if any of your guests have allergies – that way you can plan ahead and know exactly what is and is not suitable for them.
- The younger kids would be thrilled to have a ‘make-their-own’ session – in other words, if you have the space, and someone willing to supervise, there’s nothing they like better than icing their own buns (have lots of sprinkles and small sweets available), rolling out increasingly-grubby pastry to make their own jam or mince tarts, or if you’re lucky enough to have someone artistic in the family – to make their own simple Christmas decorations. Child-sized aprons and table coverings are advisable unless like me, you’re not particularly house proud!
- Don’t get into too much of a panic – the Afternoon Tea is really just an excuse for family who may not see each other during the year to call in, have a chat and something nice to eat with their relatives. It also gives everyone an opportunity to exclaim how much the youngsters have grown since we saw them last!
- Remember that it can be as simple or as complicated as you like – personally, I like simple!
- Finally, I wouldn’t dream of insisting but I do love it when people arrive in their Christmas jumpers!