Teatime with Melissa d'Arabian

Melissa d'Arabian invites Food Network Magazine over for a Christmas tradition: her annual mother-daughter tea party.

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

Photo By: Jamie Baigrie

It's a blustery December morning in Seattle, and Melissa d'Arabian's four girls are bouncing off the walls, buzzing on a sugar high that can only be attained when there's a chocolate fountain in the house.

Get the Recipe: Buttermilk Scones

The fountain (being tested by Valentine) is always a favorite part of their annual mother-daughter holiday tea party, a tradition Melissa's mom started more than 30 years ago.

It's not a formal party, but there are rules: No boys allowed, with the exception of Melissa's husband, Philippe, who keeps the buffet stocked. "I used to play tennis during the tea," he says. "But I kept having to play a bigger role. One year I was the valet!"

The doorbell rings and guests stream in, Melissa offers everyone tea, seeming totally relaxed. The Ten Dollar Dinners host has figured out the secret to entertaining, and it's not a flawless pie crust.

"What's important is to make people feel welcome," she says. "My mom taught me that it's better to greet people than to be in the kitchen finishing the perfect dish."

Get the Recipe: Sweet Cream

"This torte is inspired by my mother-in-law. I like having her presence here in the food."

Get the Recipe: Potato-Bacon Torte

Melissa keeps everything simple: These spreads can be made ahead.

Get the Recipe: White Chocolate-Mascarpone Butter