In this festive interview, we have the pleasure of joining Brunch with Babs, a cherished member of our local community, as she shares her profound love for the season and the cherished traditions that make the holidays truly magical. Brunch with Babs is well-known for her warmth and dedication to the community, and she has graciously imparted her insights on how to prepare for the holidays with a touch of style and an abundance of heart. Join us as we delve into Babs' world of family, community, and the art of creating unforgettable holiday memories.
GL: What inspired you to begin Brunch with Babs, and how did you choose your niche or area of expertise?
This is all my daughter, Elizabeth. She was pregnant with her third child during the pandemic so I was at her house helping out and she encouraged me to post a quick TikTok video. I love to cook, and as a former preschool teacher, I love teaching - so with lots of encouragement from Liz - I agreed to ONE video of me making my grandmother's chicken and potatoes. And here we are!
GL: Can you share some of your favorite holiday traditions or memories from your childhood?
I absolutely LOVE the holidays! For me, they are truly family and faith centered. I have one older sister but a boat-load of cousins and as kids, we would all gather for the holidays. Christmas Eve's Feast of the 7 Fishes was my favorite, and believe me, there were definitely more than 7 fishes! My mother would start her baking right after Thanksgiving. She'd make all these tins with all of our favorite holiday cookies that we only got to have that one time of year. I'm Catholic, and we celebrated the Feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6th. My sister and I would put out our shoes and get fruit and small gifts. I'm so nostalgic this time of year!
GL: How do you personally prepare for the holiday season? Are there any special rituals or preparations you do?
I make as much as I can ahead of time, I really do. I start my baking a few weeks before Christmas. For years, my husband, Bill and I have put a wreath in every window with a candle in the center. The house looks like a Thomas Kinkade painting. I put my everyday dishes away and take out my holiday china and stemware and we use it for the whole season instead of just on the particular holidays days. It keeps things so happy and festive and then I put them away again on January 6th.
GL: What are some of your favorite holiday recipes or foods that you look forward to each year?
For many years, our Christmas morning tradition has been to make my overnight breakfast casserole and monkey bread. You can make them the night before and pop them in the oven while you're opening gifts. It fills the whole house with this amazing comforting scent! I've passed those recipes on to my kids and my grandkids, and you too! Forgive the plug, but, I have all my favorite holiday recipes in my book, "Celebrate with Babs"! I also love Biscotti Di Natale, Peppermint Bark, Prime Rib and Homemade Manicotti (that's our traditional Christmas dinner). Those are all in the book too!
GL: Can you suggest gift ideas for different members of the family, or perhaps some personalized, thoughtful gift suggestions? We love to support local as much as we can for this section!
Actually, I love giving gift certificates for spa treatments or manicures. The ladies on my list always love that. Last year, I took my family to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City, that was so fun. I truly like to give gifts that involve activities or making memories together.
GL: How do you balance work and personal life during the holiday season, especially as an influencer?
My faith is my anchor. So even though my life is busier than ever, I cherish my quiet time in the mornings for contemplation or prayer. Then, I TRY to get things done ahead of time! I'm not always successful, but with all the cooking I do, the freezer is my friend!
GL: Are there any charitable or local community initiatives that you're involved in during the holidays? How can our readers get involved or give back during this season?
I take the adage, "It is better to give than receive" to heart. It's true now more than ever. Our family is involved with charities all year long. In particular, the ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation which raises money for research to fight DIPG, a deadly form of pediatric brain cancer. Locally, we support The Scotty Fund which raises money to offer financial and family support to children with life-threatening illnesses as well as their families. And during the holiday season, we give to Toys for Tots.
GL: What advice do you have for readers who may be looking to create a memorable and meaningful holiday season for themselves and their loved ones?
My best advice is, take care of yourself first. If you're burned out before the holidays, you've defeated the purpose. The idea is to spend time enjoying your family and friends and creating memories. No holiday is going to be picture perfect. There's no reason everything needs to be homemade. If someone offers to help, say YES! Delegate, delegate, delegate. Assign people dishes to bring, get your family involved. People aren't spending time together to inspect how perfectly pressed your napkins are, so concentrate on creating moments that are more casual and less pressure for you. What about a hot cocoa bar that everyone can enjoy? In my family, we hand out sheet music and sing carols around the tree. It sounds corny, but we always laugh!
GL: Can you recommend any holiday-related books, movies, or music that you enjoy and think our readers would appreciate?
It's A Wonderful Life is my absolute all-time favorite Christmas movie. When they were growing up, my children couldn't get enough of A Christmas Story and would watch that on a loop. I have a ton of music, Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite. I think those instrumentals are beautiful. When my kids were small I would read them, 'Twas The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve. I also love The Gift of the Magi, the short story by O. Henry. If you haven't read that, you absolutely must. It's just wonderful, the meaning of Christmas in one beautiful story.
We encourage you to continue following Babs' journey on social media, and may your own holiday season be filled with love, peace, and unforgettable moments shared with your loved ones. Happy Holidays!