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Toss the ‘To-Dos’! Host a ‘Progressive’ Holiday Brunch Instead

There are so many people we would like to celebrate with during the holiday season, but with so many ‘to-do’s’ to accomplish before the holidays, it is hard to find the time. A simple way to open up another date on your calendar is to host a progressive brunch. The benefit of a progressive meal is that it allows you to see several people, show off your home and host without having to go overboard on costs.

Progressive brunches work well for people who live close to each other, whether they are in the same building, on the same block or within the same neighborhood. Each house participating in the brunch provides a meal - or at least one of the meal’s courses - and drinks. Guests arrive at a set time and usually only stay an hour before moving on to the next house and the next course. During the holidays, homes will be cheerfully decorated, making a progressive brunch a festive way to spend a Sunday.

1. Start planning. Make your guest and host lists. Will your brunch include your card group, neighborhood couples or families? If you host with children, it is often more fun for everyone if the children stay at one house with a teenage babysitter (or two), have their own menu and pre-planned activities, such as a movie or a craft. Because this is the holiday season, it might be a nice idea to collect items for charity: A food drive, coat drive or toy drive, such as the Salvation Army Angel Tree for families in need.

2. Hosting. When choosing your hosts, find out how many guests they can seat at their table. Then divide the number of guests by the number of seats available at each house. For example, if your guest list includes 12 people and each house can only seat six, it might be a better idea to have two hosts for each course. Switch up who eats together at each house so everyone gets to socialize with different people. If you don’t want to split up your party, another way to do it is not have formal seating, but rather a cocktail party-style, so all 12 guests can go to each house.

3. Menu. Have the hosts get together and make a menu so there will not be any duplicate meals at the brunch. Be sure to consider any food allergies when planning. Search your cookbooks, Pinterest or use the menu ideas provided in the sidebar. Choose meals that can be prepared ahead or take little cooking time so when it is your time to host, you will only need to leave the party a few minutes before your guests arrive.

4. Cost. Splitting the cost of the food is important, especially if not every guest is hosting. When the menu has been decided, select two hosts to make a list and pre-shop to gather pricing. Don’t forget to add disposable plates and cups making it easier on the hosts. Divide the cost of the food, drinks and babysitters by the number of guests and collect the money before you shop.

5. Putting it all together. Start the party at the first house with a celebratory mimosa or non-alcoholic punch or hot beverages and pick up your meal schedules. After dropping off your kids and enjoying a quick half-hour of mingling, break off into more intimate groups of six or eight for the other parts of the meal. Arrive at the next house at the set time for your next course and move through the afternoon enjoying different hosts, friends and a variety of food and drinks. Head to the last house to meet up with the whole group again for desserts. End the afternoon with a group game for the adults. Try games like Hedbanz, Apples to Apples or The Game of Things. If your brunch includes the kids, consider having a small gift exchange or see if Santa can stop by for a visit. Leave the party with wonderful memories, stronger friendships and a full stomach.

Menu ideas for your holiday brunch

• Fruit and yogurt parfait
• Mini muffins or bagel bites
• French toast sticks served in shot glasses with syrup
• Cinnamon rolls
• Mini eggs benedict
• Fruit and donut hole kabobs
• Ham and asparagus roll-ups made with refrigerated crescent rolls
• Fruit salad served in red wine goblets
• Waffle bar with fresh fruit, whipped cream, chocolate chips and a variety of syrups
• Quiches or frittatas
• Pasta salad
• Cheese and sausage platters
• Chicken salad served in a seeded tomato or avocado
• Shrimp cocktail
• Ice cream cone cornucopias filled with fresh veggies
• Smoked salmon crostinis with cream cheese and dill
• Drinks: Mimosas, Caesars, juice, milk, coffee, tea and hot chocolate

Pam is a freelance writer and mother of three. Her family loves themed parties and plans to host a progressive brunch during this holiday season.


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