There is nothing like Christmas in the South. I think we can all agree that many of our fondest memories take place during the holidays. The lights, the gatherings, the poinsettias and over-the-top Christmas trees, and the food. Oh, the food. Ham, turkey, dressing, cakes, pies, and Christmas candy. (On that note, it’s dressing, y’all, not stuffing… And yes, we even fry our turkeys sometimes because it’s just that good, but I digress.)
Just in case you’re looking for some ideas to add to your own traditions – or are just curious who these people behind the curtain of this site really are – our team has compiled some of our cherished Christmas morning traditions – and recipes – to share with you.
With much love, from our families to yours… Merry Christmas!
Christmas Morning Traditions
Laura Busby, Digital Brands Manager
Traditions are something I personally love and cherish, and they’re something I desire for my children as they grow up. Looking back, the traditions that I remember most from my childhood – some that we still honor today – all revolve around food. It’s amazing how a smell or a taste can take you back to a certain time or place or remind you of a person in your past.
Growing up, Christmas morning always consisted of opening presents at my grandparents’ house followed by breakfast. Our breakfast was a simple, but tasty Breakfast Casserole. I think my mom chose to make this since it was a quick dish to put together the night before and took about an hour to cook in the oven. That gave her the freedom to enjoy watching us open presents, and not to be cooking in the kitchen. The timing always seemed to be perfect. Breakfast was ready just about the time we were finished opening all the gifts.
It’s been years since my grandmother passed. But every Christmas morning, whenever I smell this casserole baking, I’m taken back to her house. I can still see her Christmas tree, our stockings hanging on the mantle and those little bell lights hanging over the entryway to the kitchen. Oh, how I miss her. But I’m so thankful for the traditions that she handed down to me through cooking. Maybe this Christmas, you’re looking for a new tradition to start with your family. If so, try our Breakfast Casserole. It might just be a new favorite for your family. Merry Christmas everyone!
- 12 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 6 slices bread, cubed
- 1 cup American cheese, cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- 1½ lbs of ham*, bite-sized cubes
- Dash of Black pepper
- Dash of Worcestershire
- Mix all ingredients together & place in a 9×13 casserole dish. Refrigerate overnight.
- Cover and place in COLD oven. Set oven to 350° and bake for 1 hour, or until done.
*Sausage may be substituted for ham, if desired.
Marianna Chapman, Executive Editor
Growing up, we had a traditional Christmas morning breakfast right after the early-morning gift exchange among our immediate family of six. As far as I can remember, my Mama served the same Christmas morning breakfast menu every year of my entire life. And I try my best to perpetuate the tradition today with my own children. I’ve only missed one year of my adult life serving the same menu to my loved ones.
- Debbie’s “World Famous” (top secret recipe) Danish Tea Ring
- Garlic Cheese Grits Casserole
- Fresh citrus that my Pop always ordered in from Texas for the occasion
It’s a mostly make-ahead breakfast menu, really. And one that is relished by all ages. This standard is also born out of convenience, because by the time we kids had finished opening gifts, we were famished, and the kitchen was full speed ahead on Christmas lunch preparations.
Mom’s Danish Tea Rings are the stuff of legend. She’s the only one that can make them to perfection. My sister and I have tried diligently to replicate them – with admirable success, if I do say so myself – especially since it seems that the recipe and related execution of it remains elusive to everyone else. To meet demand by a lifetime of gift-receiving friends who have developed similar traditions as ours of enjoying this treat on Christmas morning, my mother makes what seems like hundreds of these cinnamon roll-esque iced rings each Christmas season. Good thing they freeze so well! They’re at their best slightly warm and sliced into portions immediately before serving.
I wish I could share the recipe, but alas, it’s closely held in the family vault for now. Even if I shared it, it seems that no one that has been privy can do much with it anyway. Your best bet is to befriend my mother and get on her nice list in time for the next holiday season to roll around.
What are traditions, after all, if you don’t have to work for them a bit?
Merry Christmas, y’all!
Brooke Goff, Public Relations Manager
Christmas is my favorite time of year. Yes, I am one of those over-the-top Christmas enthusiasts that will always extend the season as far as I can by baking, wrapping, planning more get togethers and watching Christmas movies every night that I can possibly fit them in. I love the lights, the decorations, the food, the laughter and most importantly the family time.
I have a very large family, so Christmas has always meant big family get togethers for days! Christmas morning was always a special time because it was just my immediate family. Since my children were born, I’ve lived in the same neighborhood as my mom, so it became tradition for her, my step dad and younger brother to join us on Christmas morning. The kids wake up and call Mimi, PawPaw, and Uncle Hunter to come on over, and they patiently wait for them to arrive. We read the Christmas story from the Bible, sip coffee and cocoa and take turns opening gifts. We spend a lot of time together as a family, but this is truly the most cherished.
I always prepare a make-ahead breakfast that can easily be thrown in the oven. This changes from time to time, but the tradition never does. My favorite has been this variation of French toast made into a casserole. It’s even better served with a side of fresh fruit and a poinsettia for a proper brunch experience.
French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf of French Bread (a few days old is best)
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick Butter
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Evenly distribute bread in the pan in full slices or torn pieces, however you prefer.
- Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the bread. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and mix into the dry mixture to make a crumble. Store in the refrigerator.
- To cook, preheat oven to 350° F. Sprinkle crumble mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake for 1 hour.
- Serve with warm maple syrup and fresh fruit on the side.
Note: I make poinsettias a little different than most do with a glass of good quality champagne or prosecco, a splash of 100% cranberry juice and squeeze of an orange. Cheers!
Lisa Bynum, Social Media Manager
This recipe is more of a Christmas Eve tradition than Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, we travel 45 minutes to have dinner with my husband’s side of the family. We always have a great time, but we usually get home late, and the kids are exhausted. As soon as they’re in bed and the presents are set out, we put our feet up, breathe a sigh of relief and sip this homemade egg nog. Cheers!
Homemade Egg Nog
- 5 egg yolks
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 ¼ cups good quality bourbon
- ¼ cup spiced rum
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg plus more for garnish
- Add egg yolks and sugar into a blender. Process until combined, about 30 seconds to one minute.
- Add remaining ingredients. Replace lid and process until smooth.
- Pour over ice. Garnish with additional nutmeg if desired.
Patrick Kelly, Business Development & Restaurant Liaison
Growing up, Christmas always meant a trip to the Mississippi Delta. Even though it’s been years since we’ve gone as a family, something about this time of year always takes me back to that time.
On Christmas morning, my brother and I would wake up unbearably early to see what Santa had left for us. We would play with our bounty while my mom made a Christmas Sausage Loaf, which she still does every year.
After we ate we would take our favorite toys and load up in the car to head to Itta Bena where we were welcomed by a Christmas feast that rivaled anything Dickens could have written about. The night always ended with fireworks that the older cousins got to shoot while the rest of us watched from the front porch.
I didn’t know until I was older that not everyone associates the unique smell of the Delta and fireworks with Christmas cheer. Even though I still love Christmas, I know that it will always seem more magical in the Delta.
Now, with all of my family here in town, Christmas is more likely to include mimosas and some form of Eggs Benedict, my current breakfast obsession. Cheers!
- 1 loaf French Bread
- 1lb. Sausage
- ½ cup chopped onions
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- Cheese slices
- Sauté onions and sausage, add salt & pepper and brown well.
- Slice French Bread lengthwise. Hollow the inside and tear the removed bread into pieces.
- Combine the eggs and milk. Add to the bread pieces and sausage mixture.
- Stuff the hollowed french loaf with the mixture and top with cheese.
- Bake without the top at 400° until the cheese melts. Add the top and bake until crisp (about 10 Minutes).
June Bugg Rub Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict
- 4 eggs
- 1 Stick of butter (melted)
- 2 tsp June Bugg Rub
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- Separate eggs. Put 4 yolks in blender or food processor.
- Add melted butter slowly to temper eggs while the blender is on.
- Add lemon juice and June Bugg Rub to taste.
To assemble the benedict:
- Split and toast English Muffin
- Add 2-3 oz. of pulled pork
- Add poached egg
- Top with Hollandaise
- Garnish with more June Bugg Rub
Andy Chapman, Founder & Chief Food Concierge
Growing up, when the UPS man would head down our long gravel driveway in mid-December, my six siblings and I would take off at a dead sprint to meet him at the house. While the box would be filled with gifts that varied year to year, one thing was constant: the fruitcake.
Say what you will about fruitcake. My older brother admitted to me this week that he was surprised to discover – as an adult – that to much of the world, fruitcake is an annual holiday joke. Not so for us when we were growing up.
If Grandmother wasn’t going to be there in person, she’d make sure we had our fruitcake delivered to us.
Grandmother’s fruitcake crumbled apart when you’d make a thin slice. And we weren’t allowed to cut thick slices. Now that I’ve read the recipe, I understand why!
The sticky remnants of each slice would be covering our fingers, but not for long. The fruitcake never lasted long. Joke all you want, my grandmother’s fruitcake is my most delicious Christmas memory!
From our families to yours, Merry Christmas! May your holiday be full of love and joyful memories as we celebrate the birth of Christ.