What are you giving your close friends this Christmas?
You could spend many hours—and a lot of money—shopping for just the right item for each friend and wrapping it with care.
But if you’re like me, your holidays are usually so crammed that it’s not going to happen. You’re busy. Your friends are busy. Funds are tight, and time is even tighter. And despite your best intentions, despite your love for each other, there simply aren’t enough hours to do justice to each special relationship.
But here’s another possibility: why not invite all your special friends to a lovely, intimate Christmas gathering . . . and make this time together your gift to them? For years that’s been one of my favorite things to do during the holidays.
Usually ours is a daytime gathering—a sumptuous morning brunch, a delectable afternoon tea, a light lunch, even a simple coffee klatch. Many of my friends work outside the home, so I try to schedule our get-together for a Saturday or Sunday. I do everything I can to make it a warm, relaxed, affirming, and delicious time. . . an oasis of loveliness in the midst of all the Christmas chaos.
My friends love it!
I always take time to go around the circle and intentionally affirm each woman, telling the whole group what she means to me, what I appreciate about her, why I’m grateful to have her in my life.
You should see my friends’ faces when I do that . . . even when they’ve been to one of my gatherings before. No material gift could be more personal, more appreciated. Every woman I know longs to be told—from the heart—that she is loved.
And then, after a few delicious hours together, it’s time to go. As each friend leaves, I’ll give her another hug and a little gift—perhaps an ornament, a small potted herb, or a Christmas CD. Then we return to our hectic holiday lives.
For the rest of the day, I can’t help smiling.
Try it. You’ll smile too!
If your gathering takes the form of an afternoon tea, finger sandwiches are classic fare—and this filling is to die for!
Salmon and Lemon-Caper Cream Sandwiches
½ cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. drained capers
½ tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. white pepper
Butter or mayonnaise
32 slices bread (your choice)
Curly endive or lettuce leaves
8 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (lox) or smoked turkey
In a small mixing bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients. Spread 32 slices of bread with butter or mayonnaise. Top 16 slices with greens and divide salmon or turkey on lettuce. Top with 1 tsp. mayonnaise mixture per sandwich and finish sandwich with remaining bread slices. If desired, garnish with fresh dill. Serve at once. Makes 1/3 cup dressing, or 16 servings.
Curried Chicken-Cashew Sandwiches
Here’s another amazing tea sandwich that’s great for luncheon as well.
½ cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp. soft-style cream cheese (from a tub)
2 Tbsp. snipped chives or thinly sliced green onion
1 tsp. curry powder
¼ tsp. salt
1½ cups (8 ounces) cooked chicken or turkey, finely chopped
¼ cup cashews (or almonds), finely chopped
Butter or mayonnaise
24 slices bread (your choice)
Curly endive or lettuce
In a bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients, then add chicken and cashews and blend thoroughly. Spread 24 slices of bread with butter or mayonnaise. Top 12 slices with greens and 2 Tbsp. chicken mixture. Top with snipped chives or thinly sliced green onion and cover with remaining bread slices. Makes 1½ cups filling, or 12 servings.
Use the bread of your choice to make tea sandwiches—regular white or wheat, pumpernickel or rye party slices, tiny croissants, or miniature bagels. If your bread has crusts, cut them off before filling. (You can stack 6 slices of bread at a time to cut off crusts.) Always spread bread slices thinly with butter or mayonnaise to keep the bread from becoming soggy.
The best tea sandwiches are practically bite-sized. Use a serrated knife to cut large sandwiches into triangles or small squares. Or try cutting out simple shapes with a Christmas cookie cutter! If you do this after the sandwiches are filled, the cutter will seal the edges and help keep the filling from leaking out.
Simply Beautiful Tip
Hold sandwiches together with toothpicks stuck through a sprig of herbs or a slice of green stuffed olive—or sprinkle top of sandwich with chopped basil or dill. Arrange on a pretty platter topped with a paper doily.
For a very simple, delicious, and beautiful tea sandwich, spread thin slices of your favorite fruit-nut bread with flavored cream-cheese spread from a bagel shop.
From The Christmas Kitchen a gathering place for making memories:
by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan. All rights reserved. This holiday season contact Tammy at Tammymaltby@gmail.com or facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tammy-Maltby/183239621709608 to order personally signed copies of The Christmas Kitchen for yourself and those you love.