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Christmas brunch

Ramona King


Cook your best-ever Christmas brunch with our make-ahead guide

The stockings have been unstuffed and the Santa presents have been unwrapped with abandon. It's mid-morning on Christmas day and everyone's stomachs are grumbling. Your family is clamoring for brunch, but no one has any desire to slog away in the kitchen after a busy holiday morning. Don't fret — with a little planning, or at least some smart shopping, you don't have to.

Christmas brunch is the perfect time to flex your make-ahead muscles. And even if you forgot to assemble a breakfast casserole ahead of time, we have the quick and easy recipes for you to throw together on Christmas day. Drinks included.

If you're feeling ambitious, you can certainly serve as many of the dishes below as you'd like! We'd recommend picking at least one make-ahead dish to make your morning run as smoothly as possible. Need table-setting tips? Scroll down to the bottom to learn how we've set ours. Need more brunch ideas? Any other last-minute holiday entertaining questions? Reach out to us on Facebook or at editor@southernkitchen.com and we'll get your queries answered.

The menu
If you’re too slumped from all the holiday shopping to plan out an entire brunch menu, look no further than these recipes we’ve put together for you to easily make-ahead of the hectic holiday. Whether you prefer sweet or savory, here are three recipes to add to your Christmas brunch list.

Pecan Bread Pudding French Toast
French toast is one of those great dishes that turns otherwise stale leftovers into a luxurious brunch. For our festive, make-ahead version, we up the indulgence by a factor of three with a rich, brioche bread pudding base, a creamy soak and a whipped cream topping. Make the bread pudding at least a day in advance so it'll firm up and become sliceable in the fridge. The day-of, simply slice, soak and fry in butter. That's what we call a holiday treat.
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"Pissed-Off" Potatoes
If you've ever had patatas bravas in a tapas restaurant, you'll love our extra-spicy variation. The Spanish dish's name roughly translates to "angry potatoes," and we consider our version to be even more perturbed with its extra dose of spice. But even if you could care less what we call it, this tasty dish is a must-add to your brunch table. You can bake the potatoes up to two days ahead of time and then quickly re-crisp them in a skillet or the oven, and the sauce can also be whisked together as early ahead of time as you need. Toss and serve.
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"Run Rudolf Run" Cocktail
This sparkling wine cocktail was originally created to feature the bitter marasca cherries from Northern Italy. While delicious, they’re almost impossible to find in the United States, so we’ve substituted fresh, seasonal cranberries instead. Poach them in simple syrup to temper some of their natural tartness, making the drink more cohesive, and refrigerate the syrup for up to a few days before serving. Pour on your favorite sparkling wine for a fizzy drink that can't be beat.
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Too busy shopping for stocking stuffers to even think about making brunch ahead of time? We don't blame you. Instead of fretting, try out these three recipes that can all be made in 30 minutes or less.Bacon Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Quick and easy to prepare, these one-bowl drop biscuits make for an indulgent brunch treat. Extra fat, in the form of sour cream and vegetable oil, ensure totally tender biscuits, and the use of self-rising flour elimates extra ingredients. Even better: A one-two punch of bacon and cheddar cheese makes these biscuits totally unforgetable.
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Country Ham and Broccoli Frittata
Think of a frittata as a crustless quiche, or an omelet without any pressure of the ever-treacherous flip. It’s a great one-pan wonder that can easily feed a small group, and can be a perfect outlet for any cooked meats or vegetables you may already have in your refrigerator. The only special equipment you’ll need is a large nonstick skillet, and the frittata only needs 20 minutes to cook. Serve the frittata directly on the cutting board to eliminate another dish to wash.
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Vesper-Style Mimosas
Traditionally made with gin, the Vesper martini gained prominence in the 1953 novel Casino Royale as James Bond’s drink of choice. We’re giving the classic a bit of a brunch update by turning it into a mimosa. It'll only take a few extra minutes to prepare than a traditional mimosa, and those moments are well worth it. And we're not gonna lie, this quadruple-boozy treat isn't for the faint of heart, but, hey, who doesn't need a little help getting through the holidays?
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The table
As with our Thanksgiving table, we're leaning into colorful serveware and tablescapes this year with bold reds, golds and a touch of green. After all, why stick with neutral earthtones and greys when you can embrace the festive joy of color?

Layer on multiple plates in different colors and platters to add texture and visual appeal to each place setting. We like to use red rimmed Crow Canyon plates topped with a bold plaid salad plate, but you can certainly mix and match any large and small plate you'd like — just make sure your colors match!

Add a linen napkin with a gold ring and shimmy in a couple of sprigs of red berries (both fresh sprigs or plastic work just fine) on top of the plate. Alongside, a set of gold flatware completes the look. For water glasses, we like to mix and match in our favorite Crow Canyon tumblers, again in red, along with tall cut-crystal glasses from Nachtmann. Champagne flutes are a must for any sparkling cocktail.

As a centerpiece, we like to build up a casual layering of pine needle branches on top of a linen runner. A miniature tree will add a some height to the display — if you don't want to spring for one, trim a couple of tapering branches to about one foot and stick them upright in a piece of green or gold floral foam. Throw in some more of those red berries throughout the branches for another pop of color. And if you have any oranges in the fridge, a few tucked in here and there will add additional contrast to the green, as well as echo the gold flatware. 

When it comes to serving dishes, keep it simple, fun and, again, colorful. We like to re-purpose cooking vessels as serving dishes as much as possible, and luckily, most of these can look very elegant on a holiday table. Cast iron skillets and stoneware are both excellent candidates for oven-to-table dishes, and cutting boards can even make for great pieces of serveware. And if you just need some plain 'ol bowls, throw in red and or green pieces to complement the table settings.

And remember: Table settings are all about expressing your own personality. Embrace your instincts and don't fret too much about it. The most important part of holiday brunch? Time with family.

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Author image

Kate Williams is the former editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She was also the on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She's worked in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.