Two friends and I were hostesses for our study club's December meeting, which was to include a program about England, plus a cookie exchange. So the three of us decided to make the gathering a Christmas Tea.

We set tables for four with white linen cloths, Christmas china, a teapot and quilted tea cozies in holiday prints. The food was set on glass plates on tiered plate holders at each table.

Egg 'n' Cress Tea Sandwiches, Date-Nut Fruitcake, Christmas Petits Fours and Hot Spiced Tea (all shown at right) were inspired by the types of treats that were traditionally served at Victorian tea parties.

In addition, we served scones with lemon curd and jam, cucumber sandwiches, mincemeat mousse and apricot tea cakes.

Fruitcake Photo

New Take on Fruitcake

Unlike traditional fruitcake, with its dark color and dense texture, our Date-Nut Fruitcake was light-colored and light-textured, flavored with orange, coconut, dates, raisins and nuts. It was baked in a fluted cake pan to give it a different shape.

The Hot Spiced Tea we served was delightful. Everyone enjoyed its spicy cranberry flavor and wonderful aroma!

The Egg 'n' Cress Tea Sandwiches looked very festive when we cut them out with a holly-leaf cookie cutter. We used both white and wheat bread to vary the color and flavor.

The pretty, dainty Christmas Petits Fours were attractive and fun to make. You can trim them simply with sprinkles or more elegantly, as time allows.

Wreath-shaped candy canes made cute easy napkin rings. And we found booklets titled Christmas Tea Time, with holiday stories, poems and recipes, to give as favors.

Cookies baked by the club members for our exchange were set out on a table around a small feather tree trimmed with cookie cutters. After the tea, each of us boxed up 3 dozen to take home. We had extra cookies, which we took to shut-ins.

The afternoon was a huge success! All of us agreed this holiday theme would work for other groups. So, in the spirit of Christmas, I'm happy to share it!