Christmas Afternoon Tea – for friends and family..

Christmas chocolate cake

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.

Afternoon tea

Eating for Ireland and her pal do Afternoon Tea on the 23rd Floor in the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast for our respective birthdays :)

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:

Drinks:                                                                         p1210142

  • Tea/ Coffee
  • Various juices/cordials for the kids
  • Non-Alcoholic Apple Punch – warm
  • Mulled Cider
  • Wine/Beer
  • Tasters of this year’s Sloe Gin and Blackberry Liqueur – well, in my house anyway!


November 29th Afternoon Tea at the Grand Central (17)

Goats cheese and red onion marmalade rollups (1)

sausage rolls (1)













Cranberry Curd scones (3)

ginger cake christmas - Copy - Copy

Christmas chocolate cake

  • Mince Pies (I only remembered them very late on, so people got to take a few home!)

Mince pies (2)


Cranachan 3

These, and lots of other  recipes are on the Eating for Ireland site at – 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!

Ted stays under the tree until the coast is clear!





I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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