A spot of afternoon tea at the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa is the perfect holiday treat

I adore Christmas, I really do: the fresh wreaths, cups of eggnog, decorating the tree and wrapping presents . . . what's not to love?

But the holidays can also be an extremely stressful time of year. Money can be tight, especially when you're budgeting gifts for friends and family.

Christmas cards must be written and sent off so that no one feels left out. Stiff and uncomfortable interactions with family members you haven't seen for an entire year are a given. And let's not start on the aggravation and cost of holiday travel.

I try really hard every year to put the stress behind me and take a few moments to enjoy the season. Five years ago my friend suggested we make time for each other before going away to visit our families by sharing afternoon tea, and I agreed.

The Origins of Afternoon Tea

Before my first afternoon tea experience, I'd never even heard of the precious custom.

Afternoon tea is the English tradition of having tea and edible refreshments before getting dressed for dinner.

Queen Victoria's court brought this pastime into fashion, when tradition meant that dinner would not be served until 8 or 9 pm (I would starve!) It is usually comprised of a black tea, savoury finger sandwiches, baked goods and sweets.

Holiday Tea at the Wedgewood Hotel

We have our afternoon tea at the Wedgewood Boutique Hotel and Spa, because it's one of the coziest rooms in Vancouver, and what could be better than enjoying delicious tidbits next to a roaring fire in a plush velvet chair?

The Wedgewood also features a Royal Afternoon Tea, which we prefer, because it starts the ritual with a beautiful Kir Royale: Champagne with Creme de Cassis and a twist of lemon.

While you settle in and sip your beverage, tea is served in individual presses so it may steep to your liking. There is a large selection from which to choose: traditional black to green to herbal.

Afternoon Tea Delights

When you're ready for snacks, the "tower" is brought to your table, stocked with finger sandwiches on the bottom, cakes and baked goods in the centre, and sweets on top.

I never know which part to attack first, but usually go for the finger sandwiches - dainty little concoctions of cucumber, shrimp, egg salad, salmon and chicken on fresh bread with the crusts removed, something that was never tolerated in my house growing up, so they always makes me feel a little naughty.

A traditional lemon cake, fruit tarts, almond tarts and fruitcake are found on the second tier. My favourite is the lemon cake, with its many delicate and creamy layers rounded by sweet icing on top.

The top spot, and deservedly so, belongs to freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream (which I scoop on, shovel-like) and two éclairs.

The food is traditional and expertly prepared with quality ingredients, the tea blends are superb, and the room takes the chill off any day.

I usually overstay my welcome, but I just can't budge out of that chair too quickly and get back out to the rain and fog and the rest of the day. But don't take my word for it, grab a pal and begin your own tradition!