I couldn’t wait for Brooke to get old enough to come knocking at our door on Christmas morning excited to open gifts and see whether Santa ate the cookies she left for him. But you’ll never guess what, we always had to wake her up and remind her to check to see if Santa came. Don’t get me wrong, she loves Christmas, but for some reason, she just never was one to get up super early, even for Christmas morning.
Christmas morning was our time as a family to open gifts and enjoy the holidays our way before visiting extended family and the craziness that large holiday gatherings bring. When my mother and father-in-law happened upon our quiet Christmas mornings, they wanted in too, so our quiet Christmas brunch became a tradition for the 5 of us. We had a lovely meal, opened gifts–they loved it because they got to see Brooke open her gifts–and then we’d rest up for the big family do. And, let me tell you, they were quite something! One year, someone brought a baby goat! Thankfully it wasn’t at my house!
From the time Brooke was born, documenting the fun became a “thing” at our house. My former husband was the proud owner of a new video camera, and my father-in-law was the official still picture taker. The first few years we all looked like a hot mess, just having rolled out of bed, but the Martha Stewart in me kicked in, and our Christmas pajama tradition was born. As time went by I got better and better at planning our brunch so it took very little time and effort to have a very nice meal.
One of our holiday traditions was opening one gift on Christmas Eve–our holiday pajamas to be worn Christmas morning–so we would look good in the family photos. As Brooke got older, she and I would pick out the PJ’s together–which was fun–at first we chose matching PJ’s, then coordinating…but when Brooke hit high school, wearing matching Christmas pajamas wasn’t cool anymore, so we have retired the tradition for now.
Through the years, I collected Christmas china-Spode’s A Christmas Tree, which made setting the Christmas Table lots of fun. We would usually build a gingerbread house as a center piece which added to the festive vibes.
Good Morning Pastry Pocket, Chicken Boursin Bundles or Brie and Sausage Brunch Soufflé
Festival Strawberry Salad
Muffins or Berry Crumb Cake
Peach Champagne Cocktail
Fresh Orange Juice, Fresh Ground Coffee
All from The Life Of The Party by The Junior League of Tampa Click the link to purchase this cookbook-it is so good!
Here are a few tips to make the perfect Christmas morning:
- Make brunch in advance so you just have to heat things up. I usually serve quiche, or an egg strata, our favorite blueberry coffee cake and a big bowl of fruit.
- We kept the “adult beverages” simple—mimosas, Champagne or a Champagne punch made in advance. There was also a “special” hot chocolate recipe I made in the crock pot which was a hit. Anyway, keeping things as simple as possible is the name of the game. Just serve it in festive glasses and you are good to go.
- Set the table the night before too. No matter what else happens on Christmas Eve, we always end up staying up a little to get the house ready for the next day. After all, I want everything to run smoothly.
- Take a few minutes to get yourself dolled up before the festivities begin. I don’t sleep in my holiday PJ’s so they wont look like I rolled out of bed, but hey, everyone has their own idea of how they want those Christmas photos to look, remember, they will live on and may even be shared on the internet. I don’t want some future generation to say “who is that lady with the crazy hair who looks like she just rolled out of bed.”
- Don’t forget to cue the Christmas music, lights and candles! I love setting the mood with my favorite Christmas music playing softly in the background. I usually make a play list early in the season and enjoy it until New Year’s Day. I even have a play list for the car! It’s so much fun to run holiday errands with Christmas music playing in the car.
- And, don’t forget holiday scents–whether you choose scented candles, a natural Christmas tree, potpourri or essential oils, the scent of Christmas is so special and adds to the ambiance. I like to keep scented candles away from the kitchen and dining table so they don’t complete with the food, but otherwise, the more holiday vibes the better.
- I do pre-plan a few photos, especially if a special gift is being given, like the year Brooke got a Barbie Corvette. We placed in in my parking spot in the garage, then gave Brooke a note from “Santa” to look in the garage. We had to get pictures of that, and of her driving it down the street in her Christmas pajamas. I made sure we were prepared to take photos and video of that for sure!
In the crockpot
- 1-1/2 c Heavy Cream
- 1 can Sweetened condensed milk
- 2 c whole milk
- 2T Vanilla
- 2 c chopped semi sweet chocolate (I like Guittard)
- 1/4 c cocoa powder-(I like Ghiradelli)
Combine in crockpot, stirring occasionally, cook for two hours. Serve with marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkle with cocoa powder
Holidays are so special when spent with loved ones, no matter what happens! Whether your family is super casual, or you like to plan things out like I do, we can all create our own version of the perfect Christmas morning. I hope these tips will help you make your holidays even more special.
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Updated and republished 12/3/2021