Brunch is a golden meal that ignores clocks, schedules and the cataloging efforts of the hyper-organized. It exists beyond breakfast and lunch, and because it has escaped precise description, can be a sweet, savory, substantial or light repast depending on the whim of the host.
There's also a whiff of the romantic about brunch, as though women in flowing skirts and trailing scarves haunt our perception of it. In a way, this is a good thing. As hosts, it allows us to craft a meal without falling prey to long-established expectations while still taking advantage of the aura of civility and leisureliness that the word implies.
Because entertaining during the holiday season can be hectic, holding a brunch is an effective way to add a bit of sparkle to a meal while keeping it casual and easy. It's also a useful way to slow down, or at least suggest a pause in the mad dash from one commitment to the next. It's a perfect prelude to a sporting event, matinee or shopping trip, and can be a memorable way to enjoy a long afternoon with visiting friends or relatives.
When is Brunch, Anyway?
Brunch may be served anytime from mid-morning onward. It can incorporate elements from both breakfast and lunch, like egg dishes, pastries, meat dishes, sandwiches and casseroles. In fact, egg dishes are very popular brunch fare, although they are more often served in a quiche or frittata than in a skillet sunny side up [source: Time Magazine].
Hosting a Holiday Brunch
When hosting a brunch, the more effort you take with the setup the better. Be sure to get the word out at least four weeks before the big day, and although you don't have to, mailing out invitations is a nice touch. Either a buffet or sit-down gathering will work, but pay particular attention to the details. Choose your table display carefully. It doesn't have to be a Victorian masterpiece, but fresh flowers or other special holiday touches are called for. Because guests may linger, they'll have more time to look around. This will give them a chance to appreciate your creativity and flair, so your efforts won't be wasted, but if you're hoping to decorate with last year's plastic poinsettias, the lapse probably won't go unnoticed.
If your style is more burgers on the barbecue than finger food in the solarium, that works, too, but add some decorative elements like handmade ornaments at each place setting that will tell your guests that this is a special occasion.
Good conversation, comfortable seating and a general air of relaxation are the perfect accompaniment to brunch, so choose menu items that you can make ahead. If you look stressed and frazzled, no one will have a relaxing time.
From serving mimosas while Christmas carols play in the background to sitting around the big screen watching the game, a holiday brunch can be flexible enough to suit your pocketbook and personal style. To make it live up to its name, though, take a little extra time to add some ambiance. It's the season for a little magic, after all, and brunch is a perfect time to indulge.