There are two types of people: Those who can plunge into icy-cold waters on New Year’s Day, and those who need to ease into the shiny, bright new year. Consider hosting a January 1st brunch to suit both types of guests. Put “11 a.m. – 4 p.m: casual.” on the invite. Have a boozy punch, plus something lighter or virgin for teetotalers (and those who had a long night).
As for food, consider carb-forward items that are easy to share and plunk on a plate without overthinking it, and be sure to have fresh fruit. Most of all, keep things easy for you, the host. Here’s how to do it.
The Aperol and white wine-based punch seen above is mercifully low-ABV, simple, and delicious. You can make 95 percent of it in a pitcher in advance, and set it out with a little card instructing folks to top with sparkling water, to serve. Bitters are known to settle the stomach, fresh lemon juice will help people wake up, and orange slices are aesthetically pleasant ways to welcome 2019.
If you don’t mind shaking drinks to order, or have a guest who doesn’t mind doing so, put a tropical spin on things (always amusing in the dead of winter) with Unkle’s Punch. It’s a rum-based drink from Waikiki, as delicious as it is beautiful. An edible flower garnishing the whole thing is a deft visual touch.
For a true set-it-and-forget-it punch, consider this hands-off, marvelously seasonal number. An easy-to-make ice ring makes it as much a centerpiece as it is a drink, and you can truly make it in advance, then forget about it. Its flavors sing as much as its colors: fresh apple and cranberry juices, tequila and orange liqueur, and finishing notes of rosemary and sparkling wine.
Yes, you can buy ginger ale, seltzer, ginger beer, and other fizzy drinks at the store. But label a little pretty set of bottles “homemade ginger ale,” and watch how fast it disappears. Ginger is renowned for settling stomachs, plus expecting moms-to-be and those who don’t drink booze will be grateful for an option other than tap water.
Give the people what they want: something cheesy. Whether you’re a make-ahead breakfast casserole person, a savory strata person, or a quiche person, we’ve got the molten, golden, bubbling dish for you. Just be sure it has carbs, protein, and plenty of cheese. This strata is vegetarian (because they know how to overindulge, too).
You’re not a fool: You’re not going to flip pancakes to order for the hangry on the first day of a sparkling new year. You could, however, make this stunning bread pudding, redolent of orange marmalade, cinnamon and nutmeg, and have your friends essentially worshipping you for saving them from themselves. Just be sure to snag a loaf of challah or brioche a day or two prior to New Year’s Day, and the rest is a snap.
You could concoct a fussy dessert, or you could do something make-ahead and breezy-easy. Panna cotta is one of our favorite dishes for this, particularly this one, with its vanilla-spiked yogurt base. You could set out ramekins, but for a group, we prefer to make panna cotta in a glass baking dish. Set out a big, pretty spoon, a bowl of compote on the side, and let folks help themselves. There are few sweeter ways to ring in a new year.