Mother’s Day isn’t a one-size-fits-all holiday. There are as many ways to celebrate the day as there are mothers, whether it’s with pampering, something adventurous or just hanging out together.

Somehow, though, breakfast in bed has become firmly entrenched in the media as a perfect start to Mother’s Day. It’s not clear how many mothers agree, though — who really wants their enthusiastic kids pouring maple syrup anywhere near the bedroom?

Mother’s Day brunch is always a great idea, but it’s better without the element of surprise, and with some advance preparation. Make-ahead recipes lower the stress and, with the post-preparation cleanup done well in advance, there’s more time to spend with mom.

Overnight French toast cups reduce not only the stress and hurrying but also the calories, making a lighter version of French toast that relies more on fragrant vanilla for flavor and less on heavy ingredients. Although the cups are best baked in a muffin pan for individual servings (for even easier cleanup, line the muffin pans with aluminum cupcake liners), the recipe can also be baked in a 9-inch square pan or a pie pan by increasing the baking time an additional 15 minutes.

Egg casseroles also meet the advance-preparation ideal, and for moms looking for lighter alternatives, a variation on the classic egg casserole swaps out the bread and meat for an assortment of vegetables. It’s not only meat-free, but also gluten-free, if made with freshly grated Parmesan. The casserole reheats well, so it can be completely cooked in advance. It can also be served at room temperature, perfect for a Mother’s Day picnic or trip to the beach.

Fruit salad is always a good addition to breakfast or brunch, and for a change of pace from the usual berries, pineapple and avocado combine for a sunny tropical salad. Chopped cucumber lightens the salad and balances the creamy avocado and tart pineapple.

Why is food such an essential part of Mother’s Day? Originally, the idea of the rest of the family doing the cooking was to relieve Mom of her duties for the day, but the tradition continues even among families where moms have already delegated their cooking duties on a regular basis.

Mothers win their children’s admiration for their cooking at an early age. My three-year-old grandson Andy finished a “My mom always says ...” prompt with “It’s time for dinner.” He also identified the best thing she cooks as gummy candies, and said that feeding his baby brother was his favorite thing to do with his mother, so it won’t be long before he’s ready to cook his first Mother’s Day breakfast.

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