Friday, January 28, 2011

No Fuss Visits with Friends and Family: A Well-Appointed Coffee & Tea Tray

More than what we say or the gifts we give, the time we make for each other speaks volumes about how we feel and care. Sometimes, though, friends and family don't have the time to spend the day or go to lunch. Most often, though, they have time for a quick visit. Sharing a cup of tea or coffee in the privacy and comfort of one's home is a warm and enjoyable way to catch-up with good friends. A good friend of mine, Kim, simmers deliciously-scented potpourri on her stove when we gather at her home. This is a welcoming touch.

So that I'm ready when expecting a visit or impromptu guest, I keep a service tray set on a shelf in my dining room closet, a spacious storage area that my husband built several years ago.  
Convenient to have a tea & coffee service tray
ready-to-go so you can enjoy your guests without fussing.
    Checklist of what you might want to keep on your serving tray.
Having this tray ready eliminates last-minute fussing:

~ assorted decaf & regular teas: organic green tea is a favorite
~ organic, all-natural honey
~ teabag tongs
~ wooden honey server
~ sugar with spoon
~ sugar substitutes
~ small pitcher for milk or half-and-half
~ a small votive holder & vanilla-scented tea light
   (tray above holds a favorite teardrop-shaped crystal votive)
~ or, a small scented candle in your favorite seasonal scent

A wooden honey server and mini "tongs" of sorts (mine is heart-shaped) are two of my favorite tea-serving accessories. I keep them both handy on the tray. Honey is served neatly with the spiral server, which my kids find fun to use.  The tongs work perfectly for removing teabags after seeping.

In the closet, next to the tray, I keep a large, wooden dome-topped box (photo below) filled with assorted teas that friends might enjoy. I keep classic regular and decaf teas on hand (Lipton, Irish Breakfast tea) as well as my favorite Yogi teas, which come in exotic and delicious flavors such as Lemon-Ginger and Vanilla-Hazelnut.

Vintage teacups make elegant holders for teabags. Above, I use my great Aunt Helen's pretty pastel-floral teacups to hold the organic green teabags. To hold the used teabags, I use another antique cup from her set. Fun part is, these teacups don't have to match. Although I have several Portmeirion pieces that I treasure, eclectic service is my favorite. A particularly elegant serving piece is the Portmeirion Botanic Garden teapot;
it is classic and vibrant.
The only thing left to do before your friend arrives is to slice some lemon and put out something sweet. You may want to try one of the baking recipes in our older posts - walnut shortbread cookies, pizzelle waffle cookies, chocolate-cranberry biscotti, low-fat blueberry muffins... With this coffee break, we're having my mother's moist and tasty pound cake, made with mini bittersweet-dark chocolate chips.

Served with Mom's Dark Chocolate-Chip Pound Cake
Tip from MomLeave a plastic spoon - tablespoon size if you have one - in your can of coffee. Convenient and time-saving. Or leave a spare 1/4 measuring cup in your coffee can. (my sister-in-law gave me this tip) A matter of taste but, for me, the 1/4 cup makes about 3 cups of coffee.

~ Linda

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