The Gift of Your Authentic Self

by Tammy

in Breads and Muffins, Drinks, Holiday Recipes, Hospitality, Recipes, Special Events, The Christmas Kitchen

“To be a good host don’t pretend to be other than what you are.” Emily Post 1922

I would say that would be true of being a guest as well.

I think one of the most important parts of hospitality is learning to find your own style and feeling good in your own skin both as a host and as a guest. Learning to walk out lifegiving with comfort and care. Making room for yourself and others to just be.

No pretending. No performing.

Isn’t that what we all want anyway? A place we can go and just be our true authentic selves? No matter what the season.

I was talking to a friend this week who shared how difficult Christmas was for her last year. Her family has experienced a tragic loss and there was only energy to get though each day. She was feeling stress thinking she needed to get her act together but truthfully didn’t have any desire to put up a tree or wrap one gift. She said, “I still just need time. I feel like a foreigner to this season and what I really crave is comfort and quiet. A few close friends who get it and can handle my pain. A few friends that I can share a meal with and feel okay about both laughing…and crying. I just need to be.”

Lifegiving Hospitality is just that. “Lifegiving”…giving true life. For yourself or someone that sits at your table.

This season I encourage you to make room for yourself and others to be their true authentic selves.

In my opinion it is the best gift of all.

A Christmas Tea for Friends


Start simply.  But simply start. Remember hospitality is giving others a message about their value. So sometimes just a great sandwich filling for an afternoon tea is just about the most comforting thing around.  Finger sandwiches are classic fare—and these fillings are to die for! You will love the hot tea recipe. And your home will smell simply divine!

Salmon and Lemon-Caper Cream Sandwiches

½ cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. drained capers

½ tsp. finely shredded lemon

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.

Simple Tip

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.

Simple Tip

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.

Simple Tip

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.

Christmas Tea


Sweet with a hint of spice – Great for parties, easy to make in large batches

  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 to 12 whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 12 cups water
  • 12 individual tea bags
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice


  • Place cinnamon sticks, allspice and cloves on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Bring up corners of cloth; tie with a string to form a bag.
  • Place water and spice bag in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add tea bags; cover and steep for 5 minutes. Discard tea bags and spice bag. Stir in brown sugar until dissolved. Add juices; heat through. Serve warm. Yield: 3 quarts.

Russian Tea


I triple the recipe and add a 9.5 oz bag EACH of red hot candies and lemonheads into the mix-after mixing the rest of the ingredients. Then using a canning funnel, I pack the mix into 1/2 pint, pint and quart jars.  Try layering it is beautiful and makes a wonderful Christmas gift!

  • 3 cups instant tea with lemon-flavoring dry mix
  • 3 cups orange-flavored drink mix (e.g. Tang)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

The Christmas Kitchen Pinery 2

From The Christmas Kitchen a gathering place for making memories:

by Tammy Maltby with Anne Christian Buchanan. All rights reserved.

Purchase The Christmas Kitchen at for more wonderful holiday favorites!

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