Ministry and Christmas Tea

Welcome to a grand celebration of teatime this Christmas season – with all our lovely tea hostesses and linking guests from around the world!  Sharing our love of tea and some holiday cheer, I have chosen to spotlight a wonderful ladies’ outreach our church does every year:  The First Responders Gift Baskets!

After a weekend of baking, we all individually wrap up our home-made offerings and bring them to church the first Monday of December.  Various baskets and platters, along with cellophane, ribbons, and bows are on hand to create dozens of gift baskets to be delivered to our Mayor’s office, the Police Department, Fire Departments, EMT Units, and other men and women who have chosen a career of serving the community in dire circumstances.

Many of them may have to work the holidays this year, and we want them to know how grateful we are that they maintain the front lines on the home-front.  A special card is tucked into each basket reminding them that they are greatly appreciated, prayed for, and loved by Jesus – the Reason for the Season.

Now, what does this have to do with TEATIME?  Glad you asked!

You see – each year at this event, after all the baskets are packed, we ladies enjoy a White Elephant Gift Exchange.  We bring something – anything – wrapped up, and oftentimes of questionable value.  Most ladies clear out something from a closet – something they’d put on a yard sale.  Participants pick a number and choose a gift – but if they would rather take someone else’s gift, than they have that option, too.  Laughs ensue all around and a good time is readily had by all.

Well, last year I chose a gift from the pile – and wasn’t I shocked and amazed when I opened it!! 

No, your eyes do not deceive you – that is a Lenox “Holiday” teapot – never used!  I thought I was seeing things when I opened the box.  Who would put a Lenox anything in a White Elephant exchange?  Well, my friend, Dottie, would!

Apparently, someone gave it to her some time back and she has no use for it.  All the better for the likes of me!  I was fearful that someone else might want to take it from me, but everyone knew that the teapot had found the very best of homes, so they left me alone!

To be sure, I have looked forward all year to displaying it – along with a matching teacup and saucer by Lenox in the same pattern that I came by for only five dollars at a thrift store!

I’ve displayed my teacup here (look for the teapot again later this month) with a little teatime treat to partake of while I plan my own little gifts for this year’s First Respondser’s Baskets and White Elephant Gift Exchange  – held last evening – just in time for today’s Tuesday Teatime!

I chose a favorite leaf tea from the Vintage Rose Teas I get locally here.  Almond Cookies – the perfect green tea blend for holiday teatimes!

A teaspoon in a diffuser and some boiling water – delish!  The very best inspiration for beginning my preparations for the gift basket and exchange!

First up – the cookies!

Quickly and easily done!  I used a couple of cake mix alteration recipes I found on Pinterest – don’t you just LOVE Pinterest – and they took no time at all!

Then, I considered the gift.  I have plenty of stuff around here that would be a worthy White Elephant gift.  Especially the many superfluous odds and ends collected in my jewelry box.

There’s those earrings that I thought were interesting – see there – in the center of the shot?  Found them second hand and thought them of great artistic interest, but just couldn’t wear them.  Too big!  And, how about a scarf to go with them – I’ve plenty to choose from.

Yep – here’s an orange and purple combination print that I just could never pull myself to wear.  Orange does nothing for me.

Packaging is everything!  I sipped my tea in my “Holiday” Lenox with a side treat of sliced apples, rice crackers and herbed goat cheese spread, with Sebastian – a creative little sprite nearby to infuse the tea with some inspired ideas . . .

He tried to help – decking the table with ribbons and Saran wrap for the cookies . . .

Why, even Copperfiled got into the act with his own suggestions . . .

However, I opted for the snack size zip lock baggies in the end.

Cookies wrapped and ready, what I needed was an idea on wrapping up the earrings and scarf for the gift exchange.  Not that Sebastian and Copperfield didn’t help – but, I was so refreshed by my tea, that creative thoughts flooded my imagination!  I came up with a fake company name and artistic designer character with which to wrap up the earrings and scarf.  Enter the fictitious “Thru The Door 1st Creations”!!

The equally fictitious and whimsical Serendipity Dooda, Fashionista Artisan of Thriftstore Trendsetters, Inc. is a good friend of mine – designing for Thru the Door 1st Creations: Where what you wear says it all before you open your mouth!”.  She always advises me when we go to the thrift store,  you know – what to wear – finding the most unusual of items for an eclectic appearance . . .

A fun White Elephant contribution all wrapped up pretty and ready to go!

As soon as daughter, Bethany, gets the rest of her cookies packaged up!

Upon arrival, tables were overflowing with baked goodies with which to fill baskets and platters.  The ladies got right to work!  I was put on the cellophane wrapping detail.  No time for photos until after everything was all wrapped up and stacked in the sanctuary . . .

And throughout the foyer . . .

All ready for delivery to bless so many hard working public service men and women in our community.   An expression of the season – GIVING!  Embodied creatively here in a tag created by dear Shawn over at Poetry in a Pot of Tea.

Please do visit her and see what other lovelies she creates glorifying the Lord as is His due!

The tradition of giving at Christmas is a reflection of the Gift of God to mankind.  Sin separated us from fellowship with our Creator God, and only He could reverse such darkness – transformed by His marvelous Light.

Vintage Christmas candle from my childhood.

God, in the flesh, come to live – to die – to rise again – and put an end to dark hearts with new life  in Him.  Such a gift has never been equaled.  Not even by the mountain of baked goods we ladies gathered together to give as tokens of the Spirit of Christ in Christmas to people in our community who make a living out of giving – putting their lives on the line for others – as Jesus has done for us.

“For God so loved the world that HE GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” 
Tiny Nativity from mid-’60’s – a childhood treasure.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
        “ Glory to God in the highest,
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:10-14
’60’s Angel revolving music box playing “Silent Night”

So, at Christmas we take joy in the giving of gifts – remembering the GIVER OF THE GREATEST GIFT.

So, what happened at our White Elephant Gift Exchange?  Well, JoJo, Maddy, and Rissa stood guard over the forty gifts gathered for the event once all the baskets were done.

I was number twenty so there were a fair amount of gifts already open to choose from – and not take a chance on opening a real dud of a gift!  I had to steal a rustic pendant from my gardening friend, Jeanette, who was glad for another try at the gift pile.

My Serendipity Dooda’s earrings and scarf set was chosen by a lady – but stolen by another who really loved the earrings, and left joyful with her find!

And, yes – ministry work, good times, and laughter with gift giving was had by all – with many blessings prepared to give joyfully into the lives of others this season.  Ministry and Christmas Tea – a good combination, indeed!

Sharing this Ministry and Christmas Tea with:

Sandi on Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage
Wanda Lee’s Tea for Two at The Plumed Pen
Wanda Lee’s Tea Pots & Tea Things Tuesday at The Silken Purse
Trisha’s Tea Party Tuesday at Sweetology
Kathy’s A Return to Loveliness Tuesday at Delightsome Life
Terri’s Teacup Tuesday at Artful Affirmations
Thursday Teacups and Tea Things at Antiques and Teacups
Trish’s LACE Wednesday at Lily-Rose Cottage
 

Comments

  1. This project sounds like a lot of fun and will give joy to those first responders, as they feel appreciated. How perfect that you got the Lenox tea or coffee pot.

  2. What a great post Kathryn! How lucky you are to have chosen the Lenox “Holiday” teapot for your White Elephant exchange gift. You definitely hit the jackpot (no pun intended). :) I love your packaging ideas — so funny. I’ll have to remember “Serendipity Dooda’s”.

    This was such a worthwhile project to give to the First Responders, more proof that giving really is more precious than receiving. Thanks for sharing with us and have a blessed Christmas season.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and for your sweet comments.

    Denise

  3. Such a wonderful event!

    That is a great thing you do for your first responders!

    And a Lenox teapot!

    Deanna

  4. I love all the giving going on in this post — what a wonderful idea to give back to those serving your community with your “First Responders Gift Baskets” …and the white elephant exchange sounds positively fun…..it’s been a while since I’ve participated in one of those!

  5. A lovely post and a great idea…I so love it…the hard workers that work hard at saving our and other lives deserve that and so much more. I had a brother in law who was a fireman that we lost because he went back one more time to make sure he got everyone…he fell three floors threw a lite well… and died two months later and never got to see his third child born… God bless you and friends for doing this and working so hard…It was nice that Sebastian & Copperfiled got into the mix….lovely post and a great job on the earring part….Happy Holidays…
    P.S. I can’t believe you got that Lenox Teapot big wow…with love Janice from Mz. Witherspoon’s @ spoonwither.blogspot.com

  6. Thank you dear Kathy, for another delightful post. What a thoughtful and fun ministry you have going with the other ladies. I smiled all the way through it.
    What a fabulous gift is that Lennox teapot! How wonderful that you found the matching cup too. I appreciate the scripture you have shared in your post. Jesus is the Reason for the Season! Thanks for joining me for my Christams Tea and have a delightful week.

    Christmas blessings,
    Sandi

  7. That is a wonderful holiday ministry! We used to have a similar gift exhange at work…you were neveer shure what you might end up with.
    By the way, I featured the same Lenox teacup in my post today.
    Happy Holidays,
    Carrie – Oak Rise Cottage

  8. Wow Katherine, what a fun post full of all kinds of things to see! My favorite? You getting that Lennox tea pot! Wooohooooo! And thrifting the matching cup too! You are a lucky girl!
    So glad you are having so much fun this season!
    Hugs,
    Terri

  9. Hi Miss Kathy!
    As a wife to one of those that serve the citizens in a community (for 32+ yrs!) it is so gratifying to know there are those who appreciate the sacrifice these men & women give to protect and serve. Yep, we had many Christmases, other holidays, bdays, etc., without hubby since he worked 12 hour shifts, rain or shine, calendar ignored.
    I always enjoy reading your posts. You are right…NEVER was such a gift given before or since! What an incredible blessing He bestowed.
    Thanks for the shout out for my blog too~
    xoxoxo
    shawn
    p.s. your teapot is pretty and the printed tag you made for the earrings was a hoot!

  10. A wonderful post for a fab project. A very important one, indeed. Love your Lenox Christmas teapot and teacup. We have had some really strange church staff White Elephants over the years…my favorite…read most memorable, was a vintage purse made from a tanned frog skin..with a letal purse frame in it’s mouth that snapped open & shut. It probably went to 12 people before it went home. I was first to open it and just cracked up! I like yours a LOT better!
    Cheers!
    R

  11. I absolutely love what your church is doing. It is a great idea and wonderful way to say thank you to those brave men and women who spend their lives protecting and rescuing us. If you don’t mind, I think I will pass this idea along to the women in my church.

    Your white elephant gift is amazing. Who would have guessed someone would put such a pretty teapot in a white elephant exchange! I’m glad you got it, you’ll give it a nice home.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

  12. Hi: Everything looks so beautiful. Love the tea cup, the jewelry the whole post. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessings, Martha

  13. What a blessing treat you got in the gift exchange! I love that pattern and have tried not to covet it for years. And to get a teacup and saucer for five bucks to boot? How wonderful. I love your ministry. It’s a wonderful idea.

  14. Hi Kathryn,
    the White Elefant gift exchange sound like a big fun. What a luck you got this pretty tea pot. Lennox is really elegant china. If you ever plan to gift Mr. Copperfield on the White elephant gift exchange, please give me a hint. I will come an take him because I have never seen such a cute Teddie face before.
    Season greetings and a nice time,
    Johanna

  15. Kathy, you are such a blessing!
    What a wonderful post!
    I love the emphasis on giving to others, and being thankful for receiving out of the abundance of what another already has.
    Surely an icon of God’s grace!
    The parcels you put together for the Public Service folks are wonderful and I’m sure they were a blessing to all!

    Your Lennox teapot is fabulous and it certainly went to the right home!
    You chose well – I can just imagine how delighted you were to unwrap that gift!
    And what a joy to find the matching cup and saucer :-)
    I loved seeing some of your sweet Christmas decorations from chilhood too.
    What a lovely connection to those special times!

    Thanks for linking to LACE, my dear friend.
    many blessings to you..Trish

  16. Miss Kathy, I love your idea of giving to the first responders. Very nice idea. I enjoyed hearing about the gift exchange and seeing that you did not get a white elephant at all! Lucky you!

  17. Wow Kathy! This is an inspiring post! Absolutely love the idea of a gift basket for the first responders! I have such respect and gratitude for them! Will have to work out a plan for next year! The teapot is fantastic! It would have taken my breath away! Love how your scarf and necklace look good your friend! Lovely, lovely post! Thank you for sharing with A Return to Loveliness,
    God Bless,
    Kathy

  18. What a wonderful project to be involved with! And I cannot believe tht somoene gave that gorgeous teapot away! Lucky you! It is the perfect Christmas tea!

  19. What a wonderful idea… I love the goodies for the public servants, and you have way too much fun with a white elephant! So good to see people enjoying this precious season.

    Blessings, Debbie

  20. What a lovely project and celebration. Thank you so much for sharing with us. A beautiful idea too to acknowledge the first responders with a gift basket. I love your white elephant prize too. xo

  21. What a wonderful, wonderful day! I just love this post! Blessing and celebration in one…great day!

    I’m hosting my Homemaking Link-Up Weekend again this weekend if you’d like to come link your homemaking post(s). I am really trying to establish a more Christian presence at my blog and would love to have you participate!

    Have a lovely weekend!

    Sarah

  22. Heh Miss Kathy, a great project! Lots of good pix for us to enjoy and get a real feel for your hard work. THink of you often…such a busy time of year.
    Linda

  23. Miss Kathy, I love your post and all the thoughtful gift giving that your church ladies do.A lovely ministry…..
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  24. What a wonderful tradition that is, and so thoughtful! I’m sure it’s greatly appreciated by those hard-working people in your community. I just wrote about our annual “girls only” party. We did a white elephant exchange a couple of times at it, too (but not this year.) It’s usually so fun!Wow – you were definitely lucky to get the teapot!! I hope you’ll check out my giveaway Kathy! Hugs,
    Cindy

  25. Kathy, this was way more fun than I should have in one sitting! What joy I had feasting on all your kind acts and creativity! Loved your new teapot acquisition. I can just picture you holding on to that for dear life – and glaring at any of your friends who dared to even THINK of stealing it! I was at a gift exchange for my Book Club – we all bring a wrapped book, and then we do the same pick/steal thing. I had a book I thought I’d really like, but it got stolen. However, revenge came a few turns later when I stole it back! Only allowed two steals, and then the book stays. So, my patience (and skullduggery??) paid off!

    What a wonderful ministry, too. How those dear ones deserve our thanks.

    GOD BLESS!

I would love to hear from you--share your thoughts!

*

%d bloggers like this: