The holiday season brings a whole host of entertaining events for families. When we were little, my mom diligently worked with my sister and me to ensure we had impeccable table manners and social skills. For some reason I find myself struggling to instill those same lessons in my own small girls.
While ordinary meals can sometimes disintegrate in chaos, I’ve tried my best to make sure that we can get through a more formal family dinner once in a while with two girls who try their best to behave like the little ladies Grandma is hoping to see. The best way I’ve found to present these lessons is to put together a “practice run” Holiday Tea Party with my daughters.
The morning of our Tea Party, I set the stage with a fancy table and homemade treats. This year I incorporated the Melissa & Doug Treat Tower to buy some time for practicing and role changing before I brought out the real cookies and lost their attention to sugar rush.
Here are my tips for making your own special Holiday Tea Party with your children:
1. Don’t avoid the china: Bring out the fancy plates. At 2.5 years old, I finally feel comfortable trying this with my youngest but my older daughter has managed glass dishware well for a couple years. Explain that these dishes require more care and attention and watch your kids respond. My girls were thrilled to be trusted with the nice dishes and acted accordingly.
2. Dress for success: There is just something about the “Sunday Best” clothing that separates this special event from an ordinary play session. My girls loved dressing up for our tea. If you don’t want to drag out your fancy duds, try to find something from the dress-up bin for the occasion!
3. Assign responsibility: As we sat down, I announced that each girl would have a turn playing hostess of our party. My 5-year-old was allowed to go first. She served our practice treats to the guests first and poured our “tea” (plain water for easy clean-up in case of accidental spillage.) We had a great chat about how it is polite to serve everyone else at the table before ourselves. The 2-year-old then happily modeled that role when it was her turn.
4. Please and Thank You and Cheers!: Teaching manners can be fun. My girls love to clink their cups and shout “Cheers!” They did it several times throughout the tea. “Thank you” is fairly easy when something sweet is being laid on the plate. “Please” is the trickiest for us but taking turns as hostess gives each girl the chance to practice.
5. Save the real deal for last: Once an actual treat is on their plate, kids are going to be sucked in to the eating portion of the tea. Using pretend treats keeps the focus on the manners and the practicing and buys precious time for trading roles and trying again. My girls had a fantastic time selecting the petit fours from the treat tower and placing them back in their spots before switching hostess roles.
With all the holiday hustle and bustle, I love making time for just the three of us to celebrate Christmas together. I’m not distracted by my own real-world hostess duties and can just appreciate and enjoy my girls at the sweet stages they are in right now.
If you’re looking for an easy, no-bake, fancy-looking treat for your own Holiday Tea Party, check out my Minted Oreo Truffles on Peanut Blossom today. They are ready in 30 minutes or less, require just 3 ingredients, and my girls went wild for them!
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