Seafood enlivens standard morning fare for a holiday brunch.

By Sarah Brueggemann
October 24, 2003
Howard L. Puckett

During harried holidays, it's easy to forget that food, drink,laughter, and love make the most valued gifts. So remind yourguests with a relaxed and memorable gathering early in the day.Part breakfast, part lunch, a brunch allows people to celebrate theseason in a low-key setting. And whether you're attempting to coaxsleepy teens from bed or entertaining unexpected cousins, addseafood to the menu for a surprising treat. Follow these tips soyou can enjoy the party, too.

• Build your menu around one central dish. Many of thefollowing recipes need only a serving of fresh fruit or juice onthe side to become a complete meal.

• Use regional ingredients, such as the fresh crabmeat andavocado in Caribbean Crab Cakes Benedict.

• Keep your list of invitees manageable and focused oncamaraderie.

• Tantalize the senses. Place candles in a bowl loadedwith coffee beans, or hollow out oranges and fill withspice-fragrant votives.

• Make it easy on yourself. Pick up breads and pastriesfrom a bakery early in the morning or the day before your party.Let them overflow a basket on the buffet.

• Have a colorful variety of jams, jellies, and honeys onhand. Lime marmalade brings a holiday hue.

• Prepare a batch of Bloody Marys or fruity cocktails toguarantee a merry atmosphere. Also provide juices, coffee, tea, andmilk.

• Consider serving a festive, purchased dessert toencourage guests to linger.

• Set the table the night before. You'll feel more on topof things in the morning.