A New Tradition: Christmas Tea menu and the heart behind it all

It’s no secret that I’ve read like 6 books by Sally Clarkson in 2020. I’m truly so grateful for how God is using her wisdom to help shape my heart and our home to be more like Jesus. I highly recommend listening to her podcasts or grabbing a book (or 6) that she’s written!

One idea I took from her books (mentioned in multiple places, but mainly The Life Giving Home and The Life Giving Table) is the occasion for a Christmas Tea. I tweaked it to make it our own and decided to invite the ladies in our extended family.

I really wanted my grandmothers to come, but with their current health and the fact that I live two hours away from each of them, it wasn’t able to happen this year, which is totally understandable, but for some reason, I kept each of them in mind as I planned and prepared for the occasion. In a way they really fueled how I did it all.

I wanted to share here the menu I used, and give you a true glimpse into the “note” on my phone where I sketched it all as I prepared. I’ve found that the most difficult part of doing something like this is the actual decision-making process, so my hope is that by sharing what we did, it may help you in your own planning if you choose to do something similar (since I even took several of my ideas directly from Sally’s suggestions!).

It truly was a delight to do this, and it something I pray can become a new annual tradition. I’d encourage you to consider it, too!

So here are the details:

Time and Date: Saturday December 12, 2020 at 10:30AM-1PM – I chose this time because I was considering my grandmothers making a two hour trip to be here, and I know they like getting home long before dark, so this turned it into more of a brunch than a tea.

Below, I’m literally copying and pasting the note for you from my phone with all my lists and things I wanted to make sure to have ready. I’ve noted in italics what I purchased for the occasion and a few other notes. About the time I was preparing for this, a friend sent me a meme that showed a husband asked his homeschooling wife what all the Amazon boxes were for, and her response was that they were gifts for the kids’ teacher, chauffeur, etc. Ha! So I asked my husband if that’s what these items for this tea could be for me – plus they are items I hope to use continually for special occasions!

Decor/Set-up

  • Tables and chairs – I originally thought we’d need an additional chair to extend to ours, but once a few people couldn’t make it, our regular set-up worked fine. My plan for the future, though, is to eventually purchase a folding table that can extend to our dining table so that we can seat 16ish around the same table for gathering and feasting together!
  • Table cloths I chose this lovely green color because I felt like it could be used for various seasons with a simple change in centerpieces!
  • Cloth napkins tied with twine with twigs of rosemary tucked underneath the twine
  • Gift at each place (these tiny tea cups ornaments– this was also an idea from Sally’s The Life Giving Home book – I read some excerpts from her book and shared that the reasoning for this specific gift was to encourage each in attendance to receive the cup given to her by God, and to receive it as grace.
  • Place name settings (index cards, folded – handwritten names)
  • Centerpiece – I literally bunched up a brown scarf in the center of the table and spotted it with some greenery and red berries – super simple but added a touch of color 
  • Christmas Music playing – I chose one of our favorite albums – Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God

Menu 

  • First course
    • Rosy Raspberry soup (prepped Saturday morning) from Sally Clarkson’s The Life Giving Table
    • Holiday Tea – a cold tea family recipe from my husband’s side made with almond extract, vanilla and all sorts of yummy goodness! We splurge with it for any holiday occasion!
  • Second course
  • Third course
  • Fourth course

Discussion Questions

  • Share your happiest memory from 2020, or your favorite Christmas memory from the past
  • Share something you are hopeful for in 2021

These were questions I asked each lady to answer and I scattered them throughout our meal as we worked our way through feasting on the different courses. It yielded some sweet stories and moments of sharing. I think each person enjoyed it!

My goal with this tea was to give the gift of an experience to some of the most special ladies in my life, and to prepare something they didn’t have to contribute towards, but something they could simply show up and enjoy. I also wanted to remind each of us, myself included, of God’s goodness, truth and beauty by cultivating a table and space that wasn’t picture perfect, but was intentionally put together as a means of worshiping God and serving others. I’m learning more and more (thanks to how God is shaping me through Sally’s words and wisdom) about how the necessity of eating and gathering yields such ripe moments for connecting with our friends and family and remembering God’s goodness – and the heart behind the preparation matters – whether it’s a Christmas tea or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. These rhythms of our life are God’s design for a reason. And I’m grateful for how he’s shaping my heart and showing me the value of gathering to give thanks and feast together on His goodness.

I pray you do likewise as you continue your holiday season, friend. Merry Christmas.

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