It’s warm here in Florida. There is only one day of the year I wish for cool weather and that is the day of my Annual Holiday Tree Trimming party. I have been having the party each year since 1992. The original party was inspired by a Christmas I spent in London with my ex-husband and his parents.

At the time his parents had a “flat” in London overlooking the Thames River. We had a great time, visited Harrod’s for some holiday shopping, ferried to France and spent a couple of days in Paris. I will always remember the holiday lights on the Champs d’Elysse.

I brought home two of the English traditions. We had dinner one night at Leed’s Castle. The castle, as expected, is surrounded by a moat. There is a restaurant inside that is a lively place during the holidays. Leed’s Castle dates back to 1119. Some of the more famous residents of the Castle were Richard II and his wife Anne of Bohemia, Henry VIII and his wife Catherine of Aragon along with King Edward I.

The English traditionally enjoy popping Christmas Crackers and wearing the Hats that are inside. During dinner at Leed’s we watched the festivities and all the people in hats. This tradition has been carried on at my parties, to the enjoyment of some and the dismay of others.

I still laugh at one of my neighbors, Jerry who was hair challenged. He just loved his hat to the point he wore it on his walk home! I will also remember my step father with his shock of white hair and a yellow hat that he wore during our Christmas dinner. He looked like Mr. Chicken…but of course I didn’t say that to his face!

The second tradition was inspired by Kevin’s parent’s English neighbors. They had invited us over for Christmas Eve and the husband served us Mulled Wine. It was a blustery day in London and the hot spiced wine really hit the spot. I asked him for the recipe and as family recipes normally go, he suggested I use a bit of this and some of that and any liquor I had on hand added to it! I still have the original recipe he wrote for me and have continued the tradition at my holiday parties.

Last year the wine wasn’t as popular as it was during winter in Texas since the weather was warm. This year, I am going to retire the Mulled Wine and make a special White Sangria with Elderflower Liqueur. I would love to make Glogg. One of my good friends is Swedish and when I lived in Texas she used to invite me over for Glogg. Wow, that’s even better than Mulled Wine and we had some deep conversations after sipping it (so deep, I can’t quite remember them!). Still, it will be too warm for Glogg, so I am committed to Sangria. I will share the recipe next week.

Since the rest of the nation appears to be in a deep freeze, some of you might enjoy a bit of Mulled Wine. Here is the recipe. I will give you the original, and then attempt to translate it into something you can understand. I am also including Mulled Cider for the Non drinkers.

Mulled Wine:
Spices-Cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger. Take the spices and boil in water then sieve into main drink. Add brown sugar. Add this as desired.
2x Red Wine
1x White Wine ½ Sparkling Wine (or Cider)
A good slug of Brandy or anything else going spare.

That’s the original. What I normally do is make simple syrup using the brown sugar, water (1part to 1 part) and the spices tied in cheesecloth or in my case in a tea ball. I heat the wines, add the sugar mixture to taste then when it gets closer to serving I add the Brandy. I don’t normally use the Sparkling Wine but sometime put a little of the Mulled Cider in. (I make the Cider for non drinkers. Drinkers can add rum if desired) Finally, I float slices of orange on top.

As mentioned, for teetotalers I make Mulled Cider. I used to go all out adding spices individually. One year I bought Knudson’s Cider and Spice and it is so good, I use that now and people love it. I may add some regular cider to it and always throw in some cinnamon sticks.

Stay warm, enjoy your friends and family and have a great week!