Gather family and friends earlier in the day for a holiday brunch as an alternative to the traditional holiday dinner. This trend is picking up in popularity for the following reasons:
--Relatives who have to split the holidays with the in-laws find it far easier to attend an afternoon event with you in full relaxation and enjoyment and then travel to the in-laws' for their 6 p.m. holiday dinner. Families who have to divide time between two dinners often don't enjoy being able to share only the first course with you while checking on the time and then rushing off to the other family's dinner. When you claim the morning and afternoon, your loved ones get more quality time with you.
Brunches may be more budget-friendly to host than dinners. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the cost of the average holiday dinner has risen 13 percent since 2011. Without an enormous turkey, ham, filet mignon and a dozen side dishes to pay for, your food budget for a brunch may be far friendlier on your wallet. Also by virtue of the earlier time, guests often drink less alcohol at a brunch, as well.
Brunches allow you to serve fresh, unique dishes such as eggs benedict, stuffed French toast, vegetable quiches and exotic fruit salads. As much as guests love the traditional holiday dinner dishes, your different menu will be quite a treat.
Brunch may be served as a sit-down, family-style meal, or you might opt to set up a bountiful brunch buffet where guests can circle around and custom-select their choices. To allow adequate and comfortable seating, set up your buffet in the kitchen, with guests able to sit at the dining room table as well as on additional seating in your home. The relaxed style of the party allows for group mingling and saves you the work of setting a large table. "We lit our fireplace, and some of our guests chose to sit on blankets in front of the fire to enjoy their brunch dishes," says party host Joanne Blake.
*Give Brunch Dishes a Fresh Twist
Consult popular recipe sites like AllRecipes.com, FoodNetwork.com and BHG.com for creative brunch recipes you'll ideally test out before your brunch event. With new recipes in-hand, you can make French toast stuffed with cream cheese and strawberries, chocolate crepes, an egg scramble containing fresh bacon bits, green peppers and diced cooked potatoes, egg white omelets with goat cheese and other gourmet dishes.
Instead of the usual plain bagels and blueberry muffins, get creative with your supermarket picks or homemade muffins, serving pumpernickel bagels and red velvet muffins with red pepper cream cheese in addition to whipped cream cheese. For meats, add in some apple and chicken sausage and turkey bacon.
A top trend for brunch presentations is the finger sandwich creation of several rounds of wheat and pumpernickel bread, with a flavored cream cheese spread in between layers and topped with a piece of smoked salmon. Alternating rows of finger sandwich styles adds a gourmet touch to this platter.
When you serve a unique twist on the usual breakfast items, it elevates your brunch to new heights.
You or another host will need to man the Belgian waffle maker to keep guests safe, and offer a toppings bar so that guests can add their own choices of waffle toppers such as whipped cream and berries, warm maple syrup and even vanilla, chocolate or strawberry ice cream.
And don't forget fresh fruit, also in unique blends such as mango and papaya or raspberry and blackberry. A top trend now is fruit skewers, with an array of fruits such as grapes, mango and pineapple threaded onto spears for a creative presentation.
Since carved meats are commonly served at hotel brunches, consider serving a small baked ham cut into thin slices before presenting.
*Serve Sensational Drinks
Brunch is perfect for mimosas, and you might choose to serve champagne cocktails with a splash of cranberry juice for festive color. Matching pitchers of fresh fruit juice please those who don't wish for an early glass of bubbly, and an array of flavored coffees please your java drinkers. Event planners say that a Bloody Mary bar with an array of fixings such as different degrees of Tabasco and celery sticks provides that taste that guests don't get every day, and the red of tomato juice is holiday festive.
*Dessert Is On the Menu
Stick to bite-sized desserts such as mini pastries, berry-topped tartlets, especially holiday-decorated cookies to add a sweet ending to your brunch celebration.