Turn a holiday twist > make breakfast the main attraction

The Christmas holiday breakfast is becoming more popular each year, and it’s easy to understand why.

You can offer a formal morning meal for less money than you’d spend on a dinner. You can do it early in the day, leaving you time for other commitments. And you can make many of the dishes ahead, which should free you up to spend more time to enjoy those around you.

Some people stress and fuss over party meals so much that they can’t relax and, consequently, neither can their guests. That’s because too many people don’t get themselves prepped. To get yourself organized, start with the menu. The good stuff is worth the effort. That means no skimping on the centerpiece, whether it’s sausage, bacon, smoked salmon or seafood.

Forget pancakes. They must be served immediately and that ties you up for the entire meal. Waffles, on the other hand, can be made before guests arrive and held in a warm oven to stay crisp. Plus, you can create a toppings buffet that lets everyone add fruit, whipped cream, butter, syrup or nuts. Crêpes can be made several days in advance and stored in a stack with waxed paper in between. Wrap them in a moist paper towel.

Before guests arrive, remove waxed paper and warm the crêpes to 300 degrees in the oven under a moist paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Then let people fill their crêpes with their choice of sweet or savory fillings, from strawberries Romanoff to chicken hash.

Quiches, egg casseroles, strata and frittatas can all be made ahead and slowly reheated or served at room temperature. Eggs and French toast are always inexpensive dishes to make, but they don’t have to taste that way. Dress up a frittata with crab, lobster or wild mushrooms. Use smoked salmon or shrimp on eggs Benedict. Mix up your French toast batter a couple of days in advance and flavor it with a liqueur such as Amaretto, Grand Marnier, Kahlua or Frangelico.

Mimosas and bellinis are breakfast standards, but let me suggest something slightly different: Mix peach purée with Moscato d’Asti, a semi-sparkling wine with a light touch of sweetness.

But the menu is only one part of the party to consider. Set a convenient time, such as 10 a.m., that is not too early for you or too late for your guests to go without a morning meal. Let your guests know how special they are by setting an elegant table. And don’t hold back. Set the table just like you would for a dinner party.

Merry Christmas and Bon Apetite!