Hosting a Holiday Brunch doesn't need to be stressful. We've got you covered with entertaining musts and hosting dos from shopping, curating a menu, decorating and takeaway gifts sure to impress your guests.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely our own.
T'is the season to reconnect and reminisce with family and friends over good food and even better company. For us, the start of December means Saturday night celebrations, work holiday parties, cookie exchanges, dinner parties, post-work events and that doesn't even include the umpteen family get togethers planned for the month. But through the flurry of events it's sometimes difficult to get QT in with those we love. So this year, we decided to throw a holiday brunch for our friends, carving out a few quiet midday hours and using our American Express Cobalt Card to earn rewards while doing what we love.
Whether it's a date night in for two or a holiday brunch for six, everything from curating a menu, setting the table and selecting holiday tunes is what dreams are made of. And, thanks to our American Express Cobalt Card we get to earn rewards while doing things we already do and love.
Tailored to foodies and travel enthusiasts, our new Amex Cobalt Card allows us to earn 5x the points while dining in or dining out; while redeeming points for our next vacation (food tour of Italy here we come). Plus, cardmembers receive regular perks, bonus rewards and access to great events while earning 2x the points on travel and 1x the point on everything else, like decor, new vinyl and gift wrap perfect for your holiday brunch.
Holiday Brunch Tip 1: Making Menus Bright
A well thought out menu is key to hosting a successful holiday brunch. A tip we always follow is accommodating guests on allergies or restrictions; while this may take extra planning, there's nothing worse than a guest feeling uncomfortable or not thought of. If your serving a sit down brunch like we did, choose dishes that highlight similar ingredients to lower preparation time. Another great tip is to choose dishes you've made before that you know guests will love. This helps to eliminate stress in the kitchen, recipes going wrong and gives kitchen confidence to the chef.
Tip: make sure to accommodate guests based on allergies or restrictions; while this may take extra planning, there's nothing worse than a guest feeling uncomfortable.
Holiday Brunch Tip 2: Make a (Grocery) List and Check it Twice
One you've locked down your menu, the next step is to list out all the ingredients you need to shop for. Remember to check your pantry and cross off any items you already have. If you're like us and have a few local favourites like the butcher, cheese monger or bakery, then divide your list by store followed by ingredient. If you shop in one market, divide your list by category or location. Not only does this help cut down aimless aisle walking, but ensures you've checked off every item on your list; no one wants to run out to the store after guests have arrived. Once you've returned from shopping for your holiday brunch, organize your ingredients by what you'll use first; messy counter, messy mind.
Tip: list out all the ingredients you need to shop for. Remember to check your pantry and cross off any items you already have, then bring your list with you to the market and check off as you purchase.
Holiday Brunch Tip 3: Preparation is Key
Preparing components of your menu the night before or the morning of helps make serving a sit down brunch more manageable. Plus, removing a few steps allows the chef to spend more time with your guests entertaining rather than being in the kitchen. No matter the party a charcuterie board is a must. Sticking to our holiday brunch theme we opted for an array of cheeses, maple bacon strips, Montreal creton, and an earl grey apple jelly; allowing guests to nibble and drink as you finish final touches.
Tip: prep components of all your dishes ahead of time sorting them in separate containers. When it comes time to plate, ingredients are ready go alleviating any mess in the kitchen.
Opting for sit down holiday brunch, and accommodating multiple allergies, we pre-roasted and pre-cut all our beets and citrus for the salad, making plating simple and effortless. We did the same for our waffles and fried chicken, allowing them to keep warm in the oven and plating between courses. And dessert was a homemade cookie tray filled with all our holiday favourites including amaretti, oat cakes, and classic shortbread.
Holiday Brunch Tip 4: Choose a Theme & Set the Scene
While it's easy to go overboard with holiday decorating, we recommend choosing a holiday or winter theme and focus on minimalist decor options like festive greenery, string lights and wreaths, and a colour scheme that plays off your existing decor. We opted for a winter's brunch theme with a simple white and grey colour scheme with touches of eucalyptus and evergreen. A good holiday party should ignite all the senses, so don't forget to light a few candles or simmer spices over the stove, and throw on a good holiday album sure to set the tone.
Tip: presetting the table before guests arrive shows you value their presence. Use place cards to truly make your holiday brunch intimate allowing for good conversation.
Holiday Brunch Tip 5: Thoughtful Takeaway Gift
Sending guests home with a little something special is a lovely way to thank them for taking time during the holiday season to spend a few moments with you over a meal. For us, a simple gift extends the hospitality from your home to theirs, making your holiday brunch that much more memorable. We opted for a tasty option, baked a double batch of our dessert cookies and sent our guests home with a cute to go box filled with holiday treats and goodies wrapped with a bow and details of evergreen to tie our theme back together.
Tip: double your dessert dish and send guests home with a tasty treat wrapped in to-go boxes sure to extend hospitality from your home to theirs.
Our final tip: have fun, pause and be present with your guests. Like everything else during the holiday season, things move quickly which is why we chose to host a holiday brunch with friends, spending a few quiet hours during the day to unwind over good food, good music and good company; doing what we already do and love while earning all the American Express Cobalt Card rewards. And thanks again to our friends for spending time with us in our home over the holiday season.
Bon appetit & happy holidays,
Chef Sous Chef