As December gets underway it seems that there are just not enough nights on the calendar for all the holiday festivities we are invited to enjoy. There can be office parties for both spouses, neighborhood get-togethers for holiday cocktails, holiday parties with your children's youth groups, cookie exchanges with friends, and the list goes on. We don't have enough nights in December to squeeze in everyone.
And that's why this year I'll be hosting a Christmas season brunch for a group of my friends.
My husband and I belong to a group that does volunteer work at our church. Several times throughout the year we all get together with our families for large parties. Over the years it's become increasingly difficult to find a December evening that we can all fit onto our calendars. So this year we decided to plan a brunch instead.
The nice thing about our parties with this group is that we all share the work and expense. The hosting family usually coordinates what the other families will be bringing to the party right down to the beverages, breads and party goods. The only other additional requirement for the hosting family is to make sure their home is completely decorated for Christmas, even if the party is held the first weekend in December!
Tips for the Hosting Family
- Plan the menu in general terms such as food categories (eggs, muffins, etc.) and quantities of each.
- Assign each family the category they would most enjoy preparing.
- If necessary, give each family two assignments, such as a casserole and juice, or muffins and party goods. Distribute assignments with an eye toward equalizing expense and effort.
- Avoid any dishes that require last minute work beyond reheating. That includes scrambling eggs, flipping pancakes and omelets made to order.
- Plan foods that will travel well such as egg casseroles or baked hams.
- Ask that items be brought over ready-to-serve. For example, if someone brings bagels or rolls they should slice them in advance.
- Request that your guests bring over the appropriate serving pieces for their contributions. If you'd prefer to coordinate the serving pieces yourself, make sure you know exactly what will be required so they can be set out on the buffet table ready to be filled when your guests arrive.
- Review your menu to be sure there will be food that appeals to the littlest members of the group (usually not a problem at a brunch)
Little Touches to Add Merriment to the Festivities
- Ask each family to bring a wrapped ornament to the party for an ornament exchange with the group.
- Choose your holiday music in advance and have it playing when your friends arrive.
- Spray your rooms with holiday scented room fragrances or burn holiday scented candles throughout your home. However, keep the scents out of the buffet area - let the food be it's own festive scent.
- Hang mistletoe in strategic locations.
- Prepare a special area for the children to play. Arrange a few holiday craft activities if the children are old enough to manage them. Or ask the children to plan a performance of Christmas carols to be sung after the meal.
- Don't forget a special holiday centerpiece for your buffet table.
- Add special holiday beverages to your menu, whether or not they include alcohol.
- Send your guests home with a little favor you've made such as a cookie dough ornament or a little sachet of Christmas potpourri tied with a festive ribbon.
Note: The following menu can be adjusted for a large crowd ranging from 20 - 40 guests. Simply increase the quantities of bread items and the salad, and give multiple assignments of the casseroles to your friends, depending on number of guests anticipated.
A Christmas Season Brunch for a Crowd
Baked Ham in Champagne - An extremely easy recipe for your buffet.
Gravlax - Served with small slices of pumpernickel, chopped red onion, and capers.
Goose N Berry Inn Baked French Toast - As part of a buffet, this recipe will serve many more than the 6 that is indicated.
Hash Brown Casserole - This large size recipe will be great for feeding a crowd.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins - Bake these in mini muffin cups and reduce bake time.
Assorted bagels, cream cheese, butter and preserves.
Honeyed Fruit Salad - The colors in the fruit make this a very festive looking dish.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cheesecake - You can't get more decadent for the holidays than this.
Coconut Layer Cake - Decorate with mint leaves and cranberries for an extra festive presentation. Assorted juices, coffee and tea.
English Christmas Punch - A festive, flaming punch from Colleen Graham, About Guide to Cocktails.