It’s funny how Christmas morning can simultaneously be the best moment of the year and the most stressful. Depending on how your family celebrates the holiday, this can mean everything from a crack-of-dawn wakeup from little kids ready for stockings, family visiting from out of town descending on the living room, and wrapping paper strewn all over the house. Thankfully, Christmas morning breakfast or brunch doesn’t have to be chaotic. A little bit of prep and a game plan can make the celebratory meal much easier on the cook. So cue up the carols, don your Santa hat, and follow these tips to make the morning less stressful.
Think about your menu early
No, Christmas morning isn’t exactly Thanksgiving day, but it does pay to make a menu as early as you can. Not only does this mean you can get the shopping and prep done before the holiday week begins, it gives you time to check with any family members or guests about dietary restrictions so there aren’t surprises or disappointments day-of.
Christmas morning breakfast and brunch differ between cultures. If you don’t have a traditional menu that you serve year to year, take inspiration from Germany’s nut- and fruit-studded Stollen bread, Puerto Rico’s pasteles (meat patties), or Italy’s strata, a cheesy bread pudding-like dish often studded with sausage and bell peppers.
If you’re planning to serve a homemade baked good like coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, or biscuits, this allows you time to make the recipe ahead. After baking and cooling, wrap the baked goods well in aluminum foil then in plastic wrap. Come Christmas eve, defrost the baked goods overnight, then remove the plastic wrap on Christmas and place the foil-wrapped baked good in a 150ºF oven for 30 minutes before serving.
Maximize your stovetop space
It hardly needs saying, but the stovetop is precious real estate on Christmas morning. If you’re planning to cook a big batch of fried eggs, flip endless batches of pancakes, or making oatmeal for some while sauteing vegetables for others, you’re going to want a double-burner griddle to hand. HexClad’s double-burner griddle has slightly sloped sides, which means you can make big batches of scrambled eggs as easily as you can squeeze in several slices of French toast. Keep the griddle handy for afternoon leftovers. Set out bread, sliced cheese, condiments, and any Christmas eve leftovers next to the griddle for people to make easy Christmas grilled cheese sandwiches.
Get the most out of your oven
Though dishes that need to be baked or cooked day of should take priority, there’s a chance that several dishes will need heating on Christmas morning. For egg-based dishes like frittata, strata, bread pudding, or big batch French toast, start by baking these off, then letting them rest (covered and tented with foil) if you’re planning to use the oven again. Take pressure off the stovetop (and the cook) with big batch oven bacon or sausage. Use your roasting pan to cook the strips (we like this guide to oven baked bacon from Delish) or links.
Once everything is cooked, turn the oven down to 150ºF. Add any defrosted baked goods (like a bundt cake or rolls), cooked dishes, and the bacon or sausage.
Set up a beverage station
If you have the space, set up drinks away from the cooking area, whether that’s on the other side of the kitchen or in a different room. There’s nothing more annoying than a crowd reaching for another cup of coffee, or people breaking out the morning mimosas in the midst of breakfast prep. Instead, enlist a family member to relocate the coffee machine, mugs, condiments, and any other drinks. Set out an ice bucket to keep juices, milks, and any alcohol cold, then pour yourself whatever you like, and shut the kitchen door.
Remember: you don’t have to cook everything yourself
If you enjoy cooking Christmas morning breakfast or brunch, great! But the good news is, you can get help or fully outsource the situation. Ask visiting guests if they’re willing to step in for certain dishes or local family to bring a dish or two. Order something from your local bakery or splurge on bake-at-home mail order treats. These days, mail-order pastries are bakery-quality, meaning you can turn out croissants worthy of a Paris pâtisserie.