Getting kids to don some decent clothes and use some manners is a struggle. But that's less the case, we've found, around the holidays. Many children—girls and boys—get excited to dress up and head out to a fancy, festively decorated place, especially when special treats are involved. These restaurants and hotels are rolling out the red carpet (and some pretty fantastic pastries) for kids and their parents this month. Make your reservations soon for a perfectly sweet and civilized afternoon. (Some are more of a splurge than others, so be sure to call ahead for updated prices for your group.)
Guests are encouraged to bring new teddies to donate to charity as part of Teddy Bear Tea. Photo courtesy of The Four Seasons
Four Seasons Teddy Bear Tea—Boston
Nov 1-Dec 23
The annual Teddy Bear Tea returns to Four Seasons Hotel Boston for the 20th year. This event includes a festive afternoon tea at the iconic Bristol Restaurant and Bar, accompanied by a reading of a holiday story, often by a Boston celebrity. Truffles the Bear makes daily appearances, and kids are encouraged to bring a stuffed bear to donate to charity. Call 617-351-2037 to reserve.
Mandarin Oriental Holiday Tea—Boston
Nov 9-Dec 31
While kids sample delicacies like an over-the-top hot cocoa bar with a selection of flavors and candy cane straws, you can sip champagne by the cozy fire in the swanky Lobby Lounge. There's also house-made cranberry scones, finger sandwiches, and miniature sweets crafted by the hotel's renowned pastry chef, Robert Differ. Call 857-400-2062 to reserve.
Meet Nutcracker stars at the Sugar Plum Fairy Tea. Photo courtesy of The Ritz Carlton
Sugar Plum Fairy Tea—Boston
Dec 10, 17
In the grand Washington Junior Ballroom, children can hobknob with cast members from the Boston Ballet Nutcracker while they nibble on tea sandwiches, sing carols, and do some interactive holiday crafts. Call 617-574-7295 to reserve.
Teddy Bear Tea at the Taj—Boston
Dec 3-23, Sundays and Saturdays
Overlooking the Public Garden, The Taj may be the quintissential spot for afternoon high tea in Boston, so it's no wonder that this grand hotel really does it up over holiday time. Kids can enjoy storytelling by Mrs. Claus, write a letter to Santa, decorate cookies, and get their face painted, too. Children are welcome to bring a new toy or teddy to donate, and the Taj will donate a portion of ticket sales to Save the Children. Call 617-598-5255 to reserve.
L'Espalier Prince and Princess Tea—Boston
Dec 9, 16
Inspired by chef Frank McClelland's childhood memories of afternoon tea on his grandparents' farm, L'Espalier's tea service is a warm, but elegant affair, with sweet and savory bites. The Prince and Princess teas have an added element of childlike fantasy to them, in which children receive tiaras and crowns to wear along with miniature treats and tea or hot chocolate. Call 617-262-3023 to reserve.
Snowflake Tea at the Langham—Boston
Nov 26-Feb 28, daily
The Reserve room at the Langham is transformed into a winter wonderland with seasonal selections of tea sandwiches and sweets as well as tea and hot chocolate. On Saturdays, you can opt for a visit to the Holiday Chocolate Bar at Cafe Fleuri, also in the hotel. Call 617-451-1900 to reserve.
Frost Tea at Rowe's Wharf Sea Grille—Boston
Nov 26-Dec 25, daily
Children are invited to decorate their own gingerbread cookies and sip cocoa while mom and dad can sample from exotic teas, including a special handcrafted seasonal blend just for the holidays, or champagne. Call 617-856-7744 to reserve.
Holiday Tea with American Girl—Natick
Dec 3, 17
Collect Christmas and Hanukkah wish list ideas and sample teatime treats at the American Girl doll store. Girls will make a fleece headband during the festivities to keep their dolls' ears warm during the winter. Call 877-247-5223 to reserve.
Tea with Mrs. Claus. Photo courtesy of The Wenham Tea House
Tea with Mrs. Claus—Wenham
This charming tea house hosts regular character teas, but the one with Mrs. Claus is particularly special. Children are offered tea or hot chocolate along with a special character cookie and other treats while they listen to a holiday story. Call 978-468-1398 to reserve.
Holiday Tea at Gore Place—Waltham
Best for older children, this elegant tea is served in the 1806 mansion, where guests are treated to a tour after sitting down to tea, sandwiches, scones, and other pastries. Call 781-894-2798 to reserve.