Funny how bright, bursting citrus is actually in season during the holidays. Guess that explains Father Christmas bringing oranges to children in historical fiction. The wonderful thing about winter citrus is that it provides us with a bright spot (and a welcome freshness on the palate) in the midst of what can often be heavy winter food. This year, we are loving these bright invites from Vaughan Spanjer. We defy anyone to have winter blues with these beauties in their bag!

Lighter recipes make us think of brunch, and what’s more festive than a mid-day holiday get-together? Less pressure than a cocktail party, more leeway with the menu (think fun savory bites, but also decadent sweets in miniature), and everyone can still make it to their nighttime engagements. We’re sold. Here are just a few of our tips for a festive holiday brunch. Please share your ideas in the comments, we’d love to hear!

  • Make a simple menu. While we love to go nuts while entertaining, simplicity is often underrated. Do you make a killer strata? Have a priceless French toast recipe? Make that the centerpiece, and then “accessorize” around it with fresh fruit, high quality coffee, an assortment of breakfast meats, and a signature cocktail. Brunch cocktails are a wonderful world to explore. Here are a few that we like.
  • Go savory. Brunch doesn’t have to be sweet. Maybe it’s a Spanish tortilla that feeds your crowd (we recommend these: so simple, but so impressive), but fluffed up by a basket of sweet rolls, a plate of cheeses, and an assortment of toasts and jams.
  • Lagniappe. This term that means “a little something extra” is just meant for brunch. Especially a festive brunch. Set your table with gorgeous Champagne coupes decorated with charms; let guests take them home as party favors. Add a sprig of rosemary to place cards to make your guests feel at home. Bag elegant shortbread for guests to take home; put them in a little basket on your foyer table. We could go on, but we’re sure you have ideas of your own.
  • Try a mother-daughter brunch. This writer has fond memories of holiday Junior League teas in Atlanta. I dressed in my finery, my American Girl doll dressed in her finery, and we convened on someone’s home for what I thought was the epitome of elegance. What little girl doesn’t like tea sandwiches and delicate cookies? The holidays are a great time to take existing bonds and making them even stronger.
  • Potluck! Maybe it’s sacrilege, but consider providing a drinks cart and, say, one savory staple and one sweet. Invite guests to bring their favorite brunch dish. For added fun, have everyone come in their pajamas. It’ll be like the best sleepover you never had. But with delicious food. And Champagne!

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