Every year for 15 years I have hosted a Christmas brunch for any family members who would like to come. When we lived in Portland, all of Brian's family who lived near would come and there were years we had 15 people. Now that we've moved to our country cottage we're a smaller group, but I hold to the tradition because I love it and my family does, too.
Though I have to confess that I've really overdone this brunch in the past, cooking two to three different hot items, two sweet breads, making homemade sausage patties and serving two fruits. And I wanted to recreate the magazine look of having a little gift on each person's plate (finding, buying and beautifully wrapping 8 to 15 little gifts = major headache).
Here's another confession: I was enjoying it less and less each year, stressing over the cooking, preparation, and execution.
So the picture above shows what it looked like this year: a simple centerpiece, regular dishes, one egg dish, one sweet bread and one fruit plate.
And NO little gifts, nameplates, or fancy napkin rings.
You know what? I've not heard about one thing that anyone missed. The kids never even mentioned the little gifts, which actually surprised me.
And I really enjoyed it. I think we've got a new tradition - the Simpler Christmas Brunch.
It doesn't have to be hard or expensive to set a pretty table.
At the table pictured here, the large plates and coffee cups are a part of our our wedding set (we registered for a less expensive set that went on half-price sale the month before we got married - as in $15! - so we received a lot!), the floral plates I bought one year at an after-Christmas sale for dirt-cheap, the goblets and pink depression glass platter were inherited from my grandmothers, and the creamer and sugar bowl were a gift from my sister-in-law.
One year I helped a friend paint and decorate her master bedroom, and she paid me with $100 cash. I took it to an antique store and bought the silver plate flatware set pictured. I love it, and it was probably a 1/3 of the price of new ones, and much better quality.
The centerpiece was simply a long plate with three candles, greens and some small vintage Christmas balls from my grandmother. I set in on a runner I had which I topped with a snowflake fabric that my friend used on the cookie plate we got a few days before (yum...).
The sweet bread I made was a simple raspberry crumb cake that I dressed up by putting on a cake plate and drizzling with a glaze. It was all done a couple days before Christmas.
Gone are the days of the individual candy cane braids...
I even went simple on the fruit, making no cranberry compote or sauce to decorate. I just sliced it up and put it on a platter. And that's OK.
The hot egg and cheese bread casserole was a fairly easy recipe. I assembled them the afternoon before, stuck them in the fridge, and cooked them before the brunch. They were yummy and satisfying.
Oh yeah, we've definitely started a new tradition. One where mom doesn't go crazy is always good!