Last year, I started an annual tradition of having some ladies over for brunch and wreath making to kick off the holiday season. It’s such a fun way to catch up with friends and get into the Christmas spirit!
I forage for the greenery and supply some of the tools, but what I really get jazzed about is planning the food and beverage! I basically started planning this year’s menu before last year’s party was even over.
I get so inspired in the month of December with all of the seasonal citrus and festive spices that are traditionally used to celebrate the holiday. Spices that before the 19th century, were highly coveted and only used by the rich during Christmas as a very special treat. We are so lucky that now these spices are easily found any time of year, but there’s just something special about going heavy on these spices at Christmas to honour the tradition. And so, one thing I especially fancy this time of year is glühwein. Warm, slightly sweet and rich in spices, with a jammy tart-ness added from the elderberries. Find my Elderberry Gluhwein recipe here.
In my opinion, bubbles are a must at any brunch. Going with the season, I offered mandarin oranges and a citrus press so that we could turn the bubbles into a mandarin mimosa as we fancy.
A bowl full of mandarin oranges and kumquats were used for drinks, and doubled as a beautiful table adornment. I also added some spiced orange pomanders to the bowl to make it extra fancy. You can make these by simply sticking cloves into an orange. The smell is AMAZING! The kumquats were used to garnish Spritz’s…we also stuck a clementine leaf in this one. My dad is a great bartender and taught me how to make these…3:2:1 parts (ounces) sparkling wine : aperol/campari : club soda. Wearing my “YASSS” shirt below: current mood as I’m getting ready for the party!
These Tuna & Anchovy Stuffed Peppers make for a nice snack along with your apertivo. They are also known as “Grinch in Santa’s Hat.”
Croissants! With fig jam, ham, and emmental cheese. I call them Figgy Ham & Cheese Croissants [recipe here]…sort of a take on “Figgy Christmas Pudding” type of thing.
To balance off those croissants, here are Chocolate Kumquat Spice Parfaits which are cashew orange spice yogurt, chocolate chia pudding, and kumquats and persimmon stewed in spices. They are vegan, they are paleo, they are Whole30, and they are dang delicious! These could easily be served as a dessert.
These Gingerbread “Cookies” are similar to energy bites, but in cookie form! They taste like cookie dough (yum!).
While gooseberries are in season, dip them in chocolate. Less expensive and more delicious than strawberries! I also piped orange spice cashew cheese into fresh figs. The cheese was made by placing Orange Spice Cashew Yogurt in cheesecloth over a strainer overnight in the fridge.
And Ancient Grain Chocolate Orange Biscotti to go with that coffee!
Oh yeah! And the wreaths! It is so fun working with such beautiful greenery. I found the nicest stuff in the yards of my home and the yards of friends and family. Last year I had tried foraging in the woods and found that everything was a little too scraggly looking. Some made round wreaths, some straight, and some did table pieces which is a gorgeous idea!
If you’re planning a wreath party here is a list of supplies you’ll need:
- Hand saw (for cutting down thicker branches)
- Large clippers (for clipping smaller branches)
- work gloves (I asked everyone to bring theirs if they have them, some of the greenery is prickly)
- wire cutters (again, extras are handy)
- Green floral wire, metallic floral wire
- floral tape
- glue gun
- large branches for those who choose to make straight-style wreath or table piece
- Adornments for the wreaths (it’s nice if everyone brings a little something) ie: bows, flowers, pine cones, etc.
Et voila! I’m already looking forward to next year’s party and the wheels are turning!