Are you up for a new holiday tradition? Love the holidays. Love spending time with friends. What I don't love, however, is the craziness of trying to coordinate and schedule get-togethers with friends during this season of madness. Okay, maybe that's a tad dramatic. But I'm sure you know what I mean. Trying to land on a date and time, never mind a venue, can take forever. My tried-and-true answer to festive gatherings with friends: go to a swank hotel for tea – on the very same day, year after year. I've written several articles about afternoon tea venues across Canada, from Victoria, British Columbia to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. Sitting down to a proper afternoon tea is something I try to enjoy when travelling throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. Half a dozen of my friends and I started a holiday tradition about decade ago – and we book it early in the fall. Instead of trying to coordinate an evening dinner in December (when everyone is super busy in the lead-up to Christmas), we book an afternoon tea somewhere in Toronto for 3 pm (without fail) on the last Saturday before Christmas. It's a no-brainer. Everyone gets a chance to finish their shopping errands, and with an afternoon meet-up there's never a conflict with other social commitments. The beauty of our friendly tea tradition: We get to sit for hours and we talk and talk and eat and eat. There's no fussing over the menu or belabored pouring over the options. What's not to love? I'm especially excited as I just caught wind of a new holiday tea option at the Hotel Shangri-La in Toronto: The Nutcracker High Tea. So, why is it called the Nutcracker High Tea? The whimsical menu draws inspiration from the popular Nutcracker ballet. Imagine a “Spanish Dance” chocolate truffle, or an “Arabian Dance” coffee opera cake – not to mention “Dance of the Reed Flutes” Danish marzipan cakes. Of course, you also nosh your way through the requisite finger sandwiches, smoked salmon, tea cakes and scones heaped with Devonshire cream and house-made jams. The Shangri-La in Toronto is hosting The Nutcracker High Tea until January 2, 2014. (Take it from me, afternoon and high teas tend to get booked up quickly during the holiday season. You can also book online. What's your fave holiday tradition with friends?