“Come along inside…We’ll see if tea and buns can make the world a better place.”
The Wind in the Willows

As the holidays approach, it is time to start planning my second holiday tea of the year.  My first tea is for Easter, but my second one is for Christmas.  Even when I plan well ahead of the event, there is a lot of work involved!  But I love the details of afternoon tea, especially one around the holidays.  Now is the time to take out the good china and linens, and prepare scones, finger sandwiches, and pastries from scratch.

If you are invited to a holiday tea – or any tea for that matter – it is important to RSVP.  RSVP, in case you don’t know, stands for “répondez s’il vous plaît” in French, which means, quite simply, “please reply.”  Whether the event is a formal or an informal one, every invitation demands the courtesy of an RSVP.

The host is often just as excited as the person receiving the invitation.  During the holiday season, there is something special in the air that just makes afternoon tea even more delightful!  Because there are so many events happening during the holiday season, an invitation should be sent out about four weeks in advance of the event.  In addition, the invitation should include a request that the invitee respond by a certain date, along with a phone number and/or an email address.  It does not matter how busy you are – you have no excuse not to respond as soon as possible, whether or not you are able to attend.  In fact, even if you are not yet sure whether you can attend, it is important to acknowledge the invitation and let the host know you will be in touch with a definite answer very soon.  That is the polite thing to do!

Some invitations state “Regrets Only!”  Of course, in that case, just let the host know if you are unable to attend.

If you said you would attend, but have a last-minute change of plans, call the host and let him or her know.  It is much better than not showing up and leaving your host disappointed and concerned.

If you said you would not be able to attend, but are now able to, let your host know.  Don’t just show up!  In addition, don’t bring an uninvited friend or family member.  After all, the host has planned for a certain number of people.  Consider what would happen if every person brought an extra guest.  This happened to me.  At one of my holiday tea parties, a dear friend of mine brought along a colleague from work without asking me ahead of time.  The problem was not a lack of food; it was the seating arrangements – I had no more space or chairs.

Finally, don’t forget to say thank you by writing a nice card or email.  Your host will feel appreciated after all the love and energy she or he put into the affair.