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Game Plan: Holiday Brunch

Game Plan: Holiday Brunch

The coolest hosts don't have a trick up their sleeves. They have a game plan.

Gathering over brunch is sometimes the best of all of the holiday traditions. It's often more relaxed, more kid-friendly, and doesn't require as much fuss as some other holiday feasts. And if you plan ahead and stick to this game plan, you'll not only have a delicious, memorable, laid-back event everyone will enjoy, you may just get to sleep in a little too!

Make it special by thinking of something fun for the kids to enjoy, like this healthy Funky Monkey Milkshake. Pick a homemade condiment that you can make ahead--a special touch that is impressive and appreciated. And make sure you have something for people to munch on as you're flipping pancakes, like Stefano's Granola Trifle. All of the recipes you need for a fantastic holiday brunch are below. But first, the game plan.

Two weeks before - or even more

  • Confirm your guest list.
  • Plan your menu. Round it out with both a few sweet and savoury things and a protein dish like eggs, sausages, or both. A fresh salad is always nice, and why not a cocktail? It's the holidays after all.

A week before - or even more

  • Assemble your grocery list, making sure you're well-stocked with the brunch essentials: maple syrup, orange juice, and coffee.
  • Think about serving pieces and pick up or borrow anything you may not already have, including coffee urns, cups, and tumblers for orange juice.
  • Prepare anything you can make ahead and freeze. Recipes like Stefano's Crêpes Suzette or Pancake Boats with Peanut Butter and Banana are perfect start-ahead options to take the load off game day.

Three days before

  • Shop for everything except the ingredients that need to be purchased fresh.
  • Make room in the hall closet for guests' outwear.
  • Plan your music playlist. It's an essential way to set the relaxing morning mood. Or let CBC Music do the work for you by streaming any of their online stations here for free: http://music.cbc.ca/. They've even got a holiday station we've been listening to all month.
  • Make your homemade condiments. Bacon Jam, Tomato Ketchup, or this Honey Butter will all get even better as their flavours meld.

Two days before

  • Get any prep work out of the way, like making the cream cheese icing for Stefano's Giant Cinnamon Bun or mixing the granola and the candied orange together for his Granola Trifle.
  • Set the table and make sure you have enough seats for everyone. Keep your décor bright and cheery to go with the daytime theme.

One day before

  • Shop for any ingredients that need to be purchased fresh. Buy flowers or fresh decorations.
  • Set out your platters and label them with sticky notes so you know which vessel is for which dish.
  • Set up a drink station for coffee, water and orange juice. Don't forget the sugar, coffee spoons, and pitchers for the milk and cream.
  • Sift and combine any dry baking ingredients and measure (and refrigerate) the liquids so any batters you're making come together in a flash.
  • Pour maple syrup into pitchers and any condiments into their serving vessels.
  • Chill any prosecco, sparkling wine, or spirits for your cocktails.
  • Cut any fruit that won't oxidize, and if you're serving Stefano's Bloody Marys, (which we highly recommend) chop the celery sticks for garnish and cover them with a damp paper towel in a air-tight container in the fridge.
  • Tidy and vacuum the house (or at least the areas the guests will see!)
  • Run and then unload your dishwasher so it's free for cleanup.

Two hours before

  • Start the first batch of coffee now because you need a cup for yourself, obviously.
  • Fill water and juice pitchers and chill.
  • Begin assembling the dishes.
  • If you're serving a cocktail, mix it up now.

An hour before

  • Make your pancake or waffle batters.
  • Finish assembling any last-minute dishes.
  • Bake or toast anything that goes in the oven
  • Set out your pans for eggs and pancakes and/or plug in your waffle iron.
  • Wipe down counters

30-45 minutes before

  • Turn on the music.
  • Change out of your pajamas (or not!) and pat yourself on your back. Pour yourself another cup of coffee and start brewing a fresh batch. You've successfully followed the game plan with even enough time to read the paper.

A note on holiday decor

You've worked so hard on your menu that your feast deserves the proper stage. We've turned to our friends over at Steven and Chris for ideas on how to get your home gorgeous for the holidays. Check out their Winter Tabletop Trends and their festive idea for

Pear & Brie French Toast Sandwich
Layered Smoked Salmon Sandwich
Egg in the Hole
Crêpes Suzette
Funky Monkey Milkshake
Steak & Eggs Griddle Breakfast
Giant Cinnamon Bun
Stefano's Granola Trifle
Stefano's Eggs Benedict
Toad in the Hole
Oven-Puffed Pancake
Baked Eggs with Cheddar Ricotta Pancakes
Maple Sausage Patties
Stefano's Waffles
Horseradish Bloody Mary
Kiwi Margarita