How to Avoid a Christmas Morning Meltdown
From you or your kids
On Christmas morning, most kids can’t stand anything getting between them and their presents. But despite their feverish excitement they are inevitable starving too. (Cue the messy meltdown and red-faced, tearstained pictures for posterity.) So how can you have a satisfying holiday breakfast that doesn't consist of leftover cookies without making everyone wait to start ripping open packages? With a little forethought it's easy to serve up a super quick and special breakfast—like an overnight eggnog French toast that lets you sleep in, or a hearty, slow-cooked casserole that packs in maximum flavor with minimal effort—that is appropriate to the joyous occasion.
Did you know you can make pancake and waffle batter early? Yup, this hearty stuff will stay good in your fridge for a few days, which is why you should make it on Christmas Eve. That way, when the kids get up at the crack of dawn it won't be too difficult to heat up the waffle iron while the coffee brews, and then pour the batter right in. If you really want to give this dish an extra holiday kick, add a little green food coloring. About 15 drops should do and then, you can arrange the green wedges in a Christmas tree shape. Add a handful of mini M&Ms as ornaments, and you’ve got a fast and festive breakfast that just might rival the pile of goodies—for a moment.
Overnight Eggnog French Toast Casserole
Once again, doing the prep the night before will reward you with a tasty meal come morning, even if your day starts before the sun rises. This overnight eggnog French toast casserole from McCormick proves a real winner, and though it doesn't have actual eggnog in the recipe, it will give the sense that you are indulging in the classic holiday flavor. Pair the dish with fresh peeled oranges to help cut the richness and give the kids something on the healthy side before they see how much candy is in their stockings.
Big Ol' Fruit Salad
Cue the blueberries, raspberries, crisp grapes, clementines, and—if you can get them—strawberries for a great and not-too-messy fruit salad. Since you don't really have to cut any of these fruits, you can whip up this meal quickly and have bowls of breakfast done lickety–split. Add a handful of chopped fresh mint to elevate the dish, or give it a cap of whipped cream or vanilla yogurt for a little extra sweetness. Best part, it's a pretty no-fuss meal, so your kid can happily wander between spoonfuls of berries and the tree.
Sure, with the words, "slow cooked," you are probably wondering how that proves fast. Well, this is one occasion where having something cook for eight to ten hours will actually lead to an easy morning complete with a well-rounded meal and kids with full bellies and a twinkle in their eye. That's right, you put all your ingredients into the slow cooker the night before and let the magic of the device take over as you dream of sugar plums and the copious amounts of eggnog you get to have the next day. With so many recipes online, it's easy to find one the whole family would love. For example, how about a sausage and tater tot brunch casserole? Or, a gluten-free hash brown casserole with veggies? And, if you're feeling really festive, give the eight-hour gingerbread oatmeal a whirl.
I'm not going to lie, in my family we love Entenmann's chocolate-coated cake donuts (which you could try to make at home), and the only time we really indulge in these devious delicacies is on Christmas. I like to add in some blood oranges or other seasonal citrus to the mix, that way at least we can feel like something healthy is going down. It's more of our pre-brunch breakfast, the prelude to the bigger, bolder and more time-consuming meal we share after the stockings. There is no shame in this, and if you have a favorite bear claw from the grocery store, feel good about baking a sheet of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, or even want to stock up on cranberry-orange scones from your local bakery, it's an easy way to get a bite on Christmas morning.
And if there is any time of year not to feel guilty about what you and your kids put in your gullet, it's the holidays.