As I write this post on August 7, 2022, the forthcoming week of August 8-14th marks National Afternoon Tea Week in the UK. This is a week set aside to celebrate the wonderful leisurely genteel activity of afternoon tea. As those of you who are regular followers of my food blog know, afternoon tea is a passion of mine and I never pass up an opportunity to indulge in the menu of savory bites, toothsome scones with jam and clotted or English double cream, and an array of tantalizing desserts. Continue reading National Afternoon Tea Week→
I love an elegant afternoon tea on any given day of the year but there are certain holidays and special days that really open up many options for creative and inspiring tea events. For me, St. Patrick’s Day is one of them as the colors of the Ireland flag are great inspiration for the color theme of the tea table as well as for the food itself. What follows is my Irish-themed St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea. Continue reading St. Patrick’s Day Afternoon Tea→
It’s no secret that I love anything to do with afternoon tea. Living where I do, here in PEI, we do not have places that offer afternoon tea year-round but that really does not make a huge difference to me as I like to prepare and enjoy afternoon tea at home, whether that’s for one or more people.
Welcome to my Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea! If you are a regular follower of my food blog, you know I adore afternoon tea events. The Christmas season provides an excellent opportunity for a special holiday afternoon tea complete with seasonal china pieces and, naturally, all kinds of Christmas goodies.
This afternoon tea was inspired by my Royal Albert “December” teacups in the “Christmas Rose” pattern. These cups are from Royal Albert’s “Flower of the Month” series and the December pattern is aptly named “Christmas Rose”. Because the cups feature roses and holly, I have named this afternoon tea the Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea. Continue reading Holly and Roses Holiday Afternoon Tea→
As regular followers of my food blog will know, I love china teacups and teapots! I use them regularly and, in fact, enjoy my daily afternoon tea break with tea in one of the teacups from my collection. Today, my afternoon tea is a little bit more formal than usual and it is centered around PEI’s official floral emblem – the Lady’s Slipper which blooms in June.
The Lady’s Slipper is not an altogether commonly found flower in PEI though it does indeed exist in both pink and white. I have long adored these beautiful orchids and have amassed a collection of Lady’s Slipper themed dishes and china so, today, I have selected a couple of my Lady’s Slipper teacups, cake plate, teapot, and creamer for teatime.
My latest (at time of writing) Lady’s Slipper teacup acquisition is the lovely Lady’s Slipper pattern from Elizabethan’s Canadian Provincial Flowers series.
The cup has a potbellied shape and sits upon a stylish little scalloped pedestal base. The cup features heavy embossing as well as gold trim on the rim, handle, and just above the pedestal base. The handle is a classic loop broken style.
A large pink and white Lady’s Slipper set amidst green leaves adorns the front of the cup. A tiny Lady’s Slipper appears on the inside rear of the cup and a slightly larger on the reverse exterior, both mirroring the large floral display on the front exterior of the cup.
The companion cup and saucer I have chosen for my tea table is also from Elizabethan Fine Bone China but is in a different shape with straighter sides. The floral motif on this cup is the same as the potbellied cup above.
So, it’s obvious that pink is going to factor significantly into my color scheme for today’s teatime. I have selected tea-sized napkins with a pink background and, not surprising, a teacup pattern! A basic flat fold is simplistic, especially on a small tea table.
As it is frowned upon to pick Lady’s Slippers because the orchids tend not to rejuvenate themselves if plucked from their natural habitat, I obviously do not have any of the lovely orchids on my table. Instead, I went to my backyard flower garden and picked a selection of pretty pink and white tulips.
My choice of teapot features, not only the Lady’s Slipper, but an iconic PEI lighthouse and a lobster fishing boat. There is no manufacturer’s mark on the teapot so I have no information on its origins.
I came across a small creamer that has a matching pattern to that of the teapot. The creamer was manufactured by Jubilee Fine Bone China (England).
I think the teapot and creamer make a lovely set. Today, for our teatime, the teapot is holding King Cole Orange Pekoe Tea.
Because we are making teatime a little special event today, we are starting off with Grapefruit Mimosas, a lovely cool and refreshing drink.
So, of course, we are going to begin with the savory course of afternoon tea and then work our way through the scones course, and then finish off with a selection of delectable small desserts. I don’t have recipes published for every food item in this posting but, for those that I do, I will put the hotlinks into the text for easy access.
Here’s what my tea table looked like with the savory and scones courses. While I will sometimes put all three courses on a three-tier server and serve it all at once to the table, today I opted to use a two-tier server for the first two courses and then cleared the table from courses one and two and brought out the sweets plate separately.
Typically, for the savory course, I will provide two to three different items. That, of course, is dependent upon what I am offering and how substantial the offerings are. On today’s tea table, I have two items, the quintessential Cucumber Sandwiches in open-face fashion and the more substantial Mini Lobster Croissants served on a bed of lettuce.
I have used mini croissants and stuffed them with the same filling as I use in my lobster rolls (recipe here). For teatime fare, I prefer to use the smaller canner lobsters as the pieces are much smaller and identifiable when used in smaller sandwiches or croissants. Using the larger market lobster means chopping the meat resulting in the shapes of the claws, etc., often being lost when used to fill small sandwiches. Everything for teatime should be proportionately small sized and dainty. The items are not meant to be full meal-sized portions.
How scrumptious does this look!
I have opted to use plain scones for today’s teatime. The recipe I have used is my Currant and Orange Scones (click here for recipe) but I have left the currants and orange zest out, resulting in melt-in-the-mouth plain scones. Can you see the layers of buttery good flakiness!
The toppings for today’s scones include the traditional strawberry jam along with rhubarb curd (recipe here) and clotted cream, of course.
I added a wee bit of pink gel food coloring to my Rhubarb Curd to achieve this pretty deep pink color. Left to its natural color, the curd is more of an orange shade.
I am not going to venture to weigh into whether the proper way to apply clotted cream is before or after the jam or curd is applied to the scone. I am going to take the diplomatic approach and say I like it both ways!
And, then of course, there is the pièce de résistance – the dessert or sweets course! Again, I typically provide a selection of 2-3 sweet treats for teatime, sometimes (but not always) featuring a signature dessert as I have done today.
Miniature Victoria Sponge Cakes filled with strawberry jam and whipped cream and topped with a fresh strawberry are the signature dessert for today’s teatime.
Pretty little pink French Macarons are often a teatime offering and they certainly fit into today’s color scheme! Vanilla flavored, the Macarons are filled with buttercream icing.
Melt-in-the-mouth Melting Moments Cookies covered in a delectable pink buttercream frosting are always a teatime favorite. The recipe for my Melting Moments can be found here.
As an added treat to the sweet plate, I have included some locally handmade artisan chocolates produced by Jane and Sue Chocolate of Stanley Bridge, PEI. How grandly did the color of these marbleized chocolates fit in with my tea table color scheme! I simply could not resist including them.
A sugar high for days!
I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into our afternoon teatime! Have a lovely week, everyone!
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June is one of my favorite months of the year. Prince Edward Island is so incredibly colorful with verdant green fields and the tilled red soil freshly planted with crops at this time of year. Against this backdrop are the many wildflowers that bloom in June and none are more prolific or more beautiful, in my opinion, than the tall, elegant, colorful lupins. These stunning wildflowers are the inspiration for today’s Teatime in the Lupins.
Lupins grow wild along many country roadsides on the Island and in abundance on my mother’s property which is where we have chosen to enjoy afternoon tea today. Put the kettle on, make yourself a brew, and come along on a recap of our lupin-inspired teatime adventure.
Below is a photo of what the sloping hill beside my Mom’s house looks like in June and this is the background I have selected for our teatime today.
Purple, in its various shades, is the predominant color of lupins in PEI though there are certainly pinks, whites, fuchsia, and variegated shades to be seen.
Other less common colors may include peach and yellow shades but those, most likely, would have been planted from imported seed. Lupins can often be found around patches of wild phlox. Mother Nature’s way of doing her own floral designs!
My Teatime in the Lupins event was, in part, inspired by the lupins and partly by my Windsor Bone China “Lupins” patterned cup and saucer. The pedestal style cup has embossed panels all around the cup which is trimmed with gold accent on the rim, base of the cup’s pedestal, and on the cup’s handle which is the loop broken style. A smaller floral spray of lupins adorns the back exterior of the cup.
The matching saucer also features embossed panels to mirror the cup’s design and the saucer features sprays of lupins matching the cup’s floral motif pattern.
Because I only have the one lupin-themed cup and saucer in my collection, I had to choose another floral teacup to pair with it. My choice for the second teacup is Royal Albert’s pedestal cup and matching saucer that features tri-colored violets set amidst green leaves with a blush of pale yellow in the background. This blends in well with my teatime color theme.
The stylish-shaped cup is narrow at the bottom of the bowl, widening to the top with gently ribbed panels from base to rim. The cup with its broken loop handle style has a scalloped rim with a narrow band of embossing just below the rim level.
My choice of teapot is Royal Denby’s Larkspur Pattern (no. 301202/reg no. 768985). This summery teapot has pretty rose and blue colored larkspur set against an ivory background trimmed with a yellow band and thick green line accents. I think this vintage teapot pairs well with my lupin cup and saucer since I don’t have one with the lupin motif on it.
Because the predominant color of PEI lupins is purple, I have chosen purple to be my main color theme for the cupcakes. Melting Moments (my recipe here) decorated in a contrasting turquoise blue frosting are also included on the plate. Nothing says it’s afternoon teatime (well, apart from the teapot and teacups, of course) better than a tiered server.
The three-tiered server I have chosen is from Royal Tudor Ware by Barker Bros (England). The plates feature a purple and brown floral motif with turquoise accents so fit in well with my color scheme. The artisan chocolates on the top tier were handmade by Jane and Sue Chocolate from Stanley Bridge, PEI. This is a new chocolate shop just recently opened at the time of writing so, if you are in the area, be sure to check them out.
Aynsley’s “Garden Gate” pattern tea plates blend in well with the tablesetting.
Those plates need some teatime treats!
Vanilla cupcakes, Melting Moments Cookies, and locally-made artisan chocolates make for a sweet teatime. What’s not to love!
A sugar high for hours after today’s teatime!
Do you enjoy teatime outdoors, weather permitting, or do you prefer to take tea indoors, regardless the weather?
Some day in our cold Canadian winter, I will look at these photos and try and recall the warm early summer breeze on the June afternoon when we enjoyed tea and sweet treats amongst the pretty lupins!
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Today marks nine years since I began My Island Bistro Kitchen food blog. Regular followers of my food blog and social media channels will know of my love for anything and everything to do with afternoon tea! So, it would only seem fitting that my focus for celebrating this milestone would be a celebratory afternoon tea. Of course, in my case, it’s any reason at all to enjoy afternoon tea! Continue reading Teatime to Celebrate 9th Blogiversary→
My dining room table is set with a beautiful Victorian teatime tablesetting with a teaset from Moritz Zdekauer. It bears the mark “MZ Austria” with the eagle symbol. I am unsure of the name of the pattern. It bears resemblance to the Bridal Wreath pattern, also produced by MZ Austria, but this set does not have the floral swags consistent with photos I have seen of the Bridal Wreath pattern. If anyone can conclusively identify the pattern, please do let me know.
In the meantime, this is a lovely delicate and romantic teaset from which to enjoy an afternoon tea or a light supper. I have used this set in the past for afternoon teas including this Valentine Tea.
There are no dinner plates in the set. Rather, the smaller plates which we know as “supper plates” or “tea plates” or, more commonly today, salad or dessert plates, are the largest plates in the set. These would be used for scones or small sandwiches or, in the case of supper, perhaps some cold cuts, biscuits, and condiments.
The plates are scallop edged with gold filigree trim on the edges. A border of tiny pink flowers amidst pale green leaves adorns each plate that also has a small rose spray in the plate center.
The small fruit nappies would typically be used for serving fresh seasonal berries with cream, a fruit compote, or, perhaps, preserves or canned fruit such as pears, peaches, or plums.
The set has a large serving bowl which seems almost disproportionately large to the other pieces in the set. It could be used for a salad, such as potato salad, or it could be used for a fruit compote.
Two serving plates accompany the set. One would most likely have been used for serving sandwiches for an afternoon tea and the other for teatime squares, cake, and/or cookies. Alternatively, the plates could have been used for serving cold meats for a supper.
The cream and sugar set is also quite large and is in keeping with the Victorian style.
The set has a lot of detailing and design elements and a significant amount of delicate gold trim.
The set also includes a salt and pepper duo and, because this is an antique set, some of the gold trim on the shaker tops has worn off.
This set has no matching teapot so I have opted to use a Sadler teapot with pink roses.
The teacup shape is very plain and simple. The short, stout, shape of the footed cup resembles Royal Albert’s Hampton shaped cups.
Each cup has an intricate floral pattern of tiny soft pink roses and green leaves around the cup and each has a tiny pink rose motif on the rear interior. The cups have ornate gilt filigree banding around the exterior rim and the simple loop handles on the cups also bear gold gilt trim that is carried to the saucer edges.
I have chosen to pair my Victorian style glasswear with this set. Again, larger pieces in keeping with the period of the teaset.
The table linen I have chosen is a white antique Irish linen cloth. White keeps the overall look simplistic and soft and really makes the tiny pink roses on the dishes pop.
The napkin fold is a simplistic triangular fold and is placed between the supper plate and fruit nappy. This is an easy fold to do and is ideal when the napkin has a motif or monogram to be featured. Placing the napkin between the two plates is also beneficial if the table is either quite small or crowded with placesettings and serving pieces as the napkin is one less thing to find a space for on the table.
I have chosen a low profile floral centerpiece for the tea table in colors complementary to the dishes. The soft, subdued colors do not detract from, or compete with, the teaset. Keeping the centerpiece low makes it easy for guests to see and converse with each other.
Now, what would you serve on these dishes and what tea would you pair with the meal?
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Warm, buttery-rich scones straight from the oven. Can’t you just conjure up the mouthwatering scent! These Currant and Orange Scones are light and flaky and have an internal crumb that is moist, soft, and tender. Continue reading Currant and Orange Scones→
As I write this post, it’s autumn – the days are shorter and cooler and leaves are off the trees, all signs that winter on PEI is not far off. This time of the year always makes me think of warm and cozy teas leisurely enjoyed in front of the fireplace.
My late day event today is what I’m calling a “savoury tea” – which, because of my menu choices, most closely resembles (but is not quite) a “high tea”. I’m drawing the menu from previous postings to my food blog so those interested in the food items can access my recipes by clicking on the hotlinks throughout this posting.
Some people refer to the traditional afternoon tea of dainty (and always crustless) sandwiches, scones, and an array of sweets as “high tea” (which it isn’t). I’m not sure why this happens – perhaps it is because the food is often served on a tall (hence “high”) three-tier server (pictured below), or curate stand, along with fancy cups and saucers on the table or it may be because the mere mention of afternoon tea evokes the notion that it is a “high” society event. In any event there is a distinction between a “high tea” and an “afternoon tea” (the latter sometimes referred to as a “low tea”).
Originally, afternoon teas consisted of light refreshments served on low tables like coffee tables, for example. The idea of an afternoon tea was to have some refreshments, mid-afternoon, to counter the sluggishness often experienced in the afternoon and to stave off the hunger until dinner was served later in the evening. Partakers would often be seated in comfy armchairs as opposed to formal dining chairs and would use the low tables upon which to set their cup and saucer and refreshments. In fact, some high-end hotels in London serve afternoon tea in the surroundings of their lobbies and, indeed, comfortable armchairs and sofas are still used along with low coffee tables. Today, however, the traditional afternoon tea is most often served at regular height tables. What characterizes a traditional afternoon tea are crustless finger sandwiches, scones, sweets and, of course, tea.
High tea, on the other hand, is more like a light supper featuring hot menu items which are most frequently served at a regular height table. Foods denoting a high tea might include egg dishes like quiches, and/or dishes that include meat and fish. Bread or biscuits would most commonly be served but less likely sandwiches if hot savoury dishes are part of the menu. And, of course, there would indeed be tea! High teas, then, tend to be comprised of more substantial fare and are typically served later in the afternoon or early evening as in the case of mine today. For those who watch the British soap opera, Coronation Street, you’ll often hear the characters invite others “round for tea” – it’s “high tea” or supper they are referring to in this context. (Yes, I’m a “Corrie” fan!)
Because of the choice of menu items I am serving, my savoury tea is, therefore, most similar (but not quite identical) to a “high tea” versus an “afternoon tea”.
I was fortunate enough to find an antique Gibbard tea trolley, in relatively decent condition, a few years ago and it is, indeed, handy. I love to use it for displays in my dining room and, because it has a double drop leaf, it often serves as my tea table when it is just tea for two. It’s the perfect size to hold all the tea elements and is easily wheeled to whatever location in the house I choose for the tea. (I am still on the hunt for a Roxton maple tea trolley in excellent condition to match my dining room set so, if anyone on PEI has one they are interested in parting with, or knows someone who does, please get in touch!)
The tablecloth square on my tea table is one I bought in Burano on my last trip to Italy. Yes, when I’m looking for mementos of trips, my interests usually veer toward tabletop items and foods local to the area!
Napkin folds for tea tables tend to lean toward basic, classic designs, much like the simple triangular fold I’ve chosen here. Most often, the folds tend to be flat designs as opposed to stand-up folds and the napkins are usually plain in color.
I like to include fresh flowers on my tea tables. They don’t have to be anything more elaborate than a simple bouquet of mini carnations. The arrangement, however, does need to be proportionately sized. Floral arrangements for tea tables are typically quite small, especially if it is a tea table set for two. Using a single color and variety of flower keeps the look simple and uncluttered.
Dishes and Glassware
Sometimes, it’s nice to use a formal tea set or pieces from formal china for tea settings. Matching pieces do lend an air of formality and cohesiveness to the setting. However, it’s totally acceptable to have a mix of dishes on the tea table so long as they coordinate in style and color.
Always use small tea-sized plates, or supper plates, for tea events. Small portions of food characteristic of tea fare just look better on small plates as the food does not appear so minuscule and “lost” as it would on a large dinner plate, for example. These pink design plates were a thrift shop find.
From my collection, I have simply chosen two different teacups and saucers that I particularly like. They both have pink designs to compliment the plates.
Both cups have wonderful designs inside and outside.
The teapot, a Sadler, also has a pink theme. The pink shades coordinate with the salmon pink shade highlighted in the tablecloth.
I found these little pedestal glasses with cranberry trim at a second-hand shop and knew they would be perfectly sized for tea tables. They lend an air of elegance and color to the table.
I adore my three-tier servers! They give an air of elegance and sophistication to any tea table. Plus, they are super useful and an efficient way to serve the food. All the food items can be brought to the table at once on one unit, taking up less space as tea tables tend to be small and compact. Sandwiches/savoury items go on the bottom tier, scones/biscuits on the middle tier, followed by the tempting sweet treats on the top tier.
So, here is what is on my five-course savoury tea menu.
~ Starter ~
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares
~ Savoury ~
Baked Stuffed Fingerlings
Mini Lobster Cakes
~ Biscuits ~
Biscuits served with lemon curd and preserves
~ Sweet Offerings ~
Dark and Light Fruitcake
Frypan Cookie Balls
Gluten Free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread
Gluten Free Melting Moments
~ Dessert ~
Luscious Lemon Curd Tartlets
~ Tea ~
Fortnum and Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend
The traditional order in which to consume tea foods are sandwiches/savouries first, followed by the scones/biscuits, and ending with the sweets. So, let’s take a closer look at the menu items.
In keeping with the small portion size conducive to tea serving size, I’m serving the soup in small soup cups and threading the grilled cheese squares on to a skewer.
For the savoury course, I have selected three hot items – mini harvest quiches, baked stuffed fingerlings, and mini lobster cakes. By clicking on the foregoing hotlinks, you can access my recipes. I will often plan ahead for tea events when I am doing my batch cooking for the freezer. In this case, I made some mini quiches and lobster cakes earlier and had them frozen. This allows me to add some variety to my tea events that I probably might not otherwise have if I had to mix up special small batches especially for a tea event.
The fingerlings are stuffed with sausage, cheese, tomato sauce, and seasonings and are tasty little bites.
Living on PEI, lobster fishing is one of our main fisheries so, naturally, I am going to include it in some fashion on my menu. The small lobster cakes are served with a small dob of sour cream.
Keep the size portions small – they can be the same size as appetizers/hors d’oeuvres or very slightly larger. For example, I use the small individual tart shells for the mini quiches because I like the look of a complete, uncut quiche for each serving. If using pieces cut from a larger quiche, I recommend making the quiche in a small quiche/pie plate 6” – 8” in diameter, no larger.
Because this is a savoury tea, I am swapping out the traditional scones associated with afternoon tea and am replacing them with biscuits. I currently have two biscuit recipes on my food blog – classic tea biscuits and whole wheat biscuits. Either works well with this type of tea.
Biscuits are less sweet and rich than scones and I think they go better with my savoury tea. That doesn’t mean, however, that lemon curd and preserves can’t be enjoyed with biscuits! It’s a great way to transition the palate from the savoury course to the sweets!
I have made a batch of my lemon curd to enjoy with the biscuits. Sometimes, I will use small dishes for the preserves but, if I have the small jars, I will often use them because I like the look of the tiny jars clustered together on a server plate!
This is an optional course because, really, the sweets themselves are generally sufficient. However, a nice touch is to add one special signature dessert. With my fresh batch of lemon curd, a luscious lemon curd tartlet was an obvious choice. I added some bright red raspberries for contrast along with a sprig of greenery.
My tea selection is one of my personal all-time favorites – Fortnum & Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend which I brought home from my latest trip to London. When in London, I always try to make time for a stop at Fortnum & Mason’s flagship store on Piccadilly to browse through their food halls and to pick up some of their tea. This tea from Ceylon is crisp and refreshing yet full bodied so it goes equally well with a savoury tea as it does with a traditional afternoon tea.
I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go out for afternoon tea but, unfortunately, where I live, there are no restaurants or hotels that offer this option. I think that’s why, when I’m in London, I allot time for 1-2 afternoon teas which are always a highlight of my visits. I often agonize over which ones to choose because there are so many wonderful options. I have written postings on three I particularly enjoyed and you can access those by clicking on the following links: Afternoon Tea in London and “Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea in London.
Tea time can be elaborate or simplified and, with some planning, can be made in to an event for entertaining family and friends at home. You’ll find inspiration for tea events of all sorts here on my blog. Simply go to the “Afternoon Teas” menu or type “Afternoon Tea” in the search box on the home page.
The warmth and glow from the fireplace and tree lights sets a beautiful soft mood for a quiet and peaceful late afternoon tea on a cold winter’s day as the snow falls gently outside the window. Want to take a peek?
I like this red plaid tablecloth – it looks so Christmasy and matches my Christmas tea china perfectly.
I was fortunate enough to find this Sadler teapot and matching cups and saucers a few years ago. I like to find occasions to use them over the holidays.
This delightful little teabox (seen behind the teacup in the photo above) is perfectly sized for small tea tables. I have a larger teabox but there is no room for it on my round tea table.
So, what was on this afternoon’s tea menu presented on a traditional 3-tier server?
Let’s start with the sandwich plate – I served one of my all-time favorite sandwiches – egg salad on white, oatbran, and multigrain breads.
Fruit-filled scones with homemade strawberry jam and crabapple jelly rounded out the next course.
And, of course, what afternoon tea would be complete without the sweet tray! Mincemeat tarts, checkerboard sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, Scotch cookies, and the quintessential fruit cake all found their way on to the sweet tray. All seasonal favorites in our house.
And, for the sweet finish-off, these candy cane meringues that dissolve on the tongue.
Beverages included Sparkling Cranberry Apple Juice from Verger Belliveau Orchard in Memramcook, New Brunswick. I love how it sparkles in the cut glass.
Today’s tea selection was Bentley’s Pomegranate.
My choice of centerpiece was very simple – a rose bowl with a sprig of holly from just outside my front door and a floating tea light. My tea table is not large so space is at a premium so any accent centerpiece has to be small.
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I hope you have enjoyed a glimpse into my Red Plaid Christmas Afternoon Tea. May the peace and joy that Christmas brings find its way into your homes this Christmas season.
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