Three Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Brunch (Recipe: Cran-Raspberry Smoothie)

Written by Cheri of Kitchen Simplicity

Brunch is one of my favorite meals. Why? Probably because most mornings we don’t have time to make a big fuss over breakfast.  The times we do make the effort and linger over breakfast or stretch it into brunch, it automatically feels special and the food somehow just tastes that much better. Although the lingering is fun, it doesn’t mean we want to slave away all morning and be tired out before the day has begun.

There are many ways to have a spectacular brunch without the stress so that you can enjoy your time with your guests and get some relaxing time yourself. Today I’m sharing three of my favorite tips that will help things go a bit smoother.

Morning Fresh Croissants
Simple Croissants

1. Make As Much Ahead As Possible

Since brunch is the first meal of the day there’s not nearly so much time to get things ready the day of and if you’re like me, the thought of getting up extra early to get started on breakfast just doesn’t sound appealing, especially around the holidays.

Choose food that can be mostly prepped ahead of time and then assembled and baked in the morning such as:

  • Simple CroissantsNight before: make the simplified croissant dough. Morning of: shape them, let them rise and bake them off. I made these last year for Christmas and they were a welcome sight.
  • Chicken and Sage Sausage Patties (pictured at top of post) – Night before: form the patties, stack them between parchment paper and store covered in the fridge overnight. Morning of: Let sit out for 30 minutes and pan fry.
  • Cinnamon RollsNight before: Make cinnamon rolls and refrigerate before second rise. Morning of: Bring to room temperature and let rise in warm place. Bake.
  • Deep Dish Blueberry Maple French ToastNight before: Prepare french toast . Cover and refrigerate. Morning of: Bake.
  • Lemon Ginger Cream SconesNight or days before: Make scones and freeze. Morning of: Bake.

If you’re working with a dough you can also freeze it ahead of time and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.

Since our refrigerators tend to be packed to the brim during Christmas there’s not always as much room to prepare ahead as we would like so it’s also important to..

Roasted Pear Crisp
Roasted Pear Crisps

2. Keep Things Simple

It’s my experience that simple foods are often the best. My family always seems to like the foods that are thrown together more than the ones I spend time slaving over for hours. I’ve learned to embrace this and try to make my simple dishes as elegant and interesting as possible so that I can feel like I’m still doing something special.

Simplify your morning by making:

  • Roasted Pear CrispsAll you need to do is slice some pears in half, top them with the granola mixture and bake. Topping them with yogurt and honey makes them extra special.
  • Breakfast Wraps – Have all the toppings set out on the table for people to assemble their own. All you need to do is cook up some eggs and breakfast meat.
  • Pancakes or Waffles – Have a buffet of toppings ready for your guests and all you need to do is make the batter and cook up some waffles/pancakes. You could lessen your work load even more by having the batter all ready and getting people to cook their own. Make the experience fun by having add-ins that they can sprinkle in such as blueberries, bananas and chocolate chips.

Maple Walnut Apple Chips
Maple Walnut Apple Chips

3. Have a Snack

Let’s face it, brunch is usually accompanied by whines of hunger pangs, especially if children are around. The best solution is to have something for people to munch or sip that won’t fill them up but will keep them happy if brunch is still a while away. The Cran-Raspberry Smoothie that I share below is a perfect example of this, it will stop those grumbling tummies but leave enough room for the coming food.

Some other great options would be:

  • Fruit Salad – have a fruit salad with a light dressing prepared for guests to serve up when then arrive or wake up. This Citrus & Pomegranate Salad with Vanilla Syrup is a beautiful way to showcase the season’s produce.
  • Yogurt Bar – Lay out some topping choices such as fresh and dried fruit and granola. Make sure to have only small bowls or cups available and let them know there’s more to come.
  • Nuts – a simple bowl of nuts is a great way to fill the need to munch.
  • Fruit and Dip – have a bowl of yogurt dip and some toothpicks for people to “fondue” some cut up fresh fruit.
  • Maple Walnut Apple Chips – These dried slices of apple are a perfect portable and healthy snack.

Anything with fruit will be a great option for keeping the hunger pangs at bay while not filling you up, so go ahead and be creative!

Cran-Raspberry Smoothie

The hint of cinnamon makes it perfect for Christmas morning to be enjoyed while brunch is being made or gifts are being opened.
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Course: Drinks
Servings: 4 (1 cup) servings
Calories: 139kcal
Author: Cheri


  • 2 cups cranberry juice
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt or whole milk natural yogurt
  • 3 cups frozen raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons sweetener


  • Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and thick. Serve immediately.


Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 22mg | Potassium: 304mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 35.3mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 0.9mg

Other Helpful Brunch Articles

How do you avoid holiday hosting stress?

Photos by: Cheri Neufeld

About Cheri

Cheri is a mother of two and a Canadian expat living in Norway. With a passion for quick and simple food, Cheri shares recipes, tips and tricks on her food blog,

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  1. What great tips! I always try to make as much the night before as possible. Yet somehow I’m still stressed day of. Don’t know why, just can’t seem to relax until the meal is over. Maybe this yummy smoothie will help me destress.

  2. Those roasted pear crisps look delicious and I love all the snack ideas, so simple.

  3. Great tips and love the recipe!! We are a big smoothie family!


  4. bridget {bake at 350} says

    Great tips! I love brunch, too!

    I’m off to check out that lemon scone recipe! Thanks!

  5. Cheri, thank you for this list and for breaking things down into what can be done ahead of time 🙂

    The Cran-Raspberry smoothie sounds wonderful – can’t wait to give it a try!

    Best Wishes!

  6. Oooh, I love the pear crisps! They’re perfect!

  7. The recipes all sound delicious. Thanks!

  8. Great post! I love to host Christmas Brunch and I agree with your suggestion to do as much ahead of time as possible. Love those apple chips!

  9. Fantastic ideas! Here in the Midwest we have unlimited freezer space most nights…

  10. These are great ideas! Deep dish blueberry French toast totally caught my eye. Happy holidays!

  11. Oh my goodness. These smoothies are addictively delicious! The cinnamon is PERFECT.

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