Sweet and Savory Holiday Brunch Ideas

From glazed ham sliders to gingerbread layer cake, event designer Camille Styles shares fun and festive ideas for hosting a holiday brunch that are the perfect mix of sweet and savory.

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June 02, 2015

Festive Brunch Setup

The key to a successful brunch is the use of finger foods arranged into an easily accessible layout. It's important to always ensure a range in heights, keeping pastries or desserts on tiered serving platters and main dishes on low, generously sized platters complete with festive garnishes.

Glazed Ham Sliders

Glazed ham and roasted turkey are two of the most popular dishes for holiday feasts. Put a light spin on these classics by serving them as sliders. Here, a glazed ham is sliced, then served on warm, cheesy biscuits. A few small dollops of cranberry compote allow guests to easily dip the sliders.

Fresh Juices

Press your own oranges into orange juice, then add a gourmet touch with strawberry garnishes. Hosts too busy to create their own fresh juices can create a similar look by simply dressing up store-bought juice with a strawberry, cranberry or blueberry garnish.

Goat Cheese + Winter Vegetable Frittata

Frittata is an excellent brunch menu item which combines protein and vegetables with dessert-like presentation. Mix in crumbled ham or bacon with fresh chopped vegetables, cheese and scrambled eggs for a savory morning starter.

Cranberry-Orange Scones

Although scones are popular year-round, cranberry-orange scones drizzled in white chocolate are an excellent fit for the holidays, especially Christmas. For a savory alternative, try a scone mixed with onions, bacon and cheddar cheese.

Delectable Holiday Dessert Station

Successful brunches often start with protein and hardy foods, and usually end with a sweet bite. Once guests have had enough time to enjoy their finger foods, create a separate serving station that's all about dessert. A perfect mix typically includes one large cake or pie, a platter of unique cupcakes, small bites such as chocolate, and a gourmet coffee station.

Dressed-Up Cupcakes

Put crushed or damaged candy canes to use as cupcake toppings. Dress up store-bought or homemade cupcakes by adding crushed bits of candy canes on top of whipped frosting. In addition to using for cupcakes, crushed candy canes also make for excellent garnish atop hot chocolate and coffee.

Gingerbread Layer Cake

Put a fresh spin on an old holiday classic by baking a gingerbread cake rather than gingerbread cookies. To keep the gingerbread classic, consider white or off-white frosting rather than more vibrant colors. Get the recipe for gingerbread layer cake.

Layers of Frosting

When serving white-frosted gingerbread layer cake, consider presenting it with holiday flair by garnishing with cinnamon or peppermint sticks. Get the recipe for gingerbread layer cake.

Holiday Hot Chocolate

Take your hot chocolate to the next level by supplying guests with gourmet ingredients aimed at spicing up this yuletide favorite. Colored, handmade marshmallows are a brunch favorite, as are holiday-colored sprinkles.

Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are a simple dessert option to help end your holiday brunch in style. While most bakeries or chocolatiers offer truffles sold by the dozen or individually, they can also be made from scratch with semisweet chocolate, heavy cream, liqueur and unsweetened cocoa powder.


An unexpected dessert to add to your holiday brunch this season is a New Zealand classic known as pavlova. After beating egg whites and salt to a rigid consistency, pavlova is made by folding in corn flour, vanilla, caster sugar and white vinegar, then slow-baking the mixture until it takes on a meringue-like appearance. It is then garnished with fresh fruit, usually cranberries, and then served on a cake stand.

Apple Cider Cocktail

Toast to the season with a delicious cocktail made by mixing apple cider, brandy, lemon juice and maple syrup. Get the recipe for an apple cider cocktail.

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