Kringle mingles — The Whitney's Santa Claus Brunch will bring the fat man to town for Sunday brunches at the Whitney. Dec. 13 and 20, between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., he'll stroll around the Whitney in Detroit posing for pictures with youngsters and wishing holiday cheer to all. The brunch is $29 per person, children 5-12 will pay their age and children 4 and younger eat free. The buffet-style meal also includes bottomless mimosas! Call 313-832-5700 for more info.

Ride and dine — Troy's Camp Ticonderoga Bar & Grill has a dinner package that includes a carriage ride. The restaurant offers Sunday diners the chance, by appointment only, to enjoy a horse-drawn jaunt before sitting down to dinner. It's $40 per adult and less for children. At 5725 Rochester Rd., Troy. For details, call 248-828-2825.

Heat and eat — Don't want to cook this Christmas? Then call Lazybones Smokehouse BBQ. They're offering a heat-it-yourself meal that serves 8-10, with cornbread stuffing, smashed redskin potato casserole, lemon crunch cream cake, several pounds of spiral ham and more. It's $99.99 plus tax, ready to pick up Christmas Eve. At 27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 1-866-671-0221.


Acclaimed chef Michael Psilakis loves his food and his family, lauding both in How to Roast a Lamb: New Greek Classic Cooking (Little, Brown, $35). Interwoven with the 116 classic Greek recipes are tales of the family celebrations that inspired his passion for cooking. The recipes range from simple salads to spit-roasted lamb. The spanakopita — spinach and cheese pie — combines many of the usual ingredients with a rich Béchamel sauce for a succulent version of this popular dish.


Don't believe the hype. Historically an important part of celebrating the local harvest in France, Beaujolais Nouveau has become a means to quickly unload cheap wine to a global market. For a few more clams, though, you can upgrade to real Beaujolais. Fermented with wild yeast and bottled using minimal headache-inducing sulfur dioxide, Jean-Paul Brun's l'Ancien from Domaine des Terres Dorées is a clear expression of the Gamay grape and a graceful wine delivering all kinds of tart red berry flavors.


This may be a perfect tool. It's functional. It's handmade. It's attractive. Its parts are biodegradable. It's kitschy. And it's cheap. This Amish Cake Tester Broom, handmade by artisans in Lancaster, Pa., is little more than a bundle of authentic corn-husk straws used to test the readiness of a cake instead of using guesswork or a toothpick. The straw length is almost 2 inches longer than a toothpick, thus easier to use. We found this one at for $8.

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