If you enjoy getting together with your friends, but dread all the work that goes along with throwing a party, you’re the perfect person to host a brunch. As with wine and cheese parties, you can throw together a brunch party with fairly little effort and have plenty of time to enjoy your guests during the party rather than being holed up in the kitchen preparing one course after another. Oh yeah, and did I mention that brunch is typically much less expensive than a dinner party? You can see your girlfriends and still afford date night with your husband on Friday.
With spring quickly approaching, we are entering the prime brunch season. Most people think of brunch for Easter and Mother’s Day, but it’s also a great way to get together without infringing on the activity-laden times in your friends’ schedules (evenings and Saturdays) when they are running kids around to sports and extracurricular activities.
While brunch can certainly be a complicated affair if you opt to make individual omelets and crepes for each of your guests (if you throw one of these, please invite me as they are two of my favorite breakfast foods!), it is also just as acceptable to go the simpler route and prepare dishes that can be made in advance so you can sleep in the morning of the brunch and greet your guests having enjoyed a good night’s rest.
Living with 4 distinct, picky eaters has battle scarred me a little so when I host a party, I like to offer a variety of food to make sure there is something for everyone. On the other hand, I am pretty lazy AND hate wasting food so I try to avoid making 20 different dishes that will only be half eaten. So, here is a basic menu plan (along with suggested recipes) that should satisfy a variety of food preferences in as few dishes as possible.
- Breakfast Casserole with Meat – You can assemble this the day before and just toss it in the oven in the morning.
- Vegetarian Quiche – You can bake it the day before and simply warm it the next morning.
- Baked French Toast – Like the casserole, you assemble the day before and bake it in the morning.
- Bacon – You can’t make this a day ahead, but you can bake it the morning of the brunch, which is much less time intensive than frying each piece. Go here for directions on how to bake bacon.
- Fruit Salad – This has to be assembled the morning of the brunch, but it’s basically throwing a bunch of fruit in a bowl so it won’t take long to prepare.
- Yogurt Bar – Rather than struggling to put together a bunch of yogurt parfaits right before the party (you can’t do it the night before or the granola will get soggy), lay out all the fixings so guests can customize their parfaits. Go here for great ideas on what types of toppings to include and how to set it up.
- Quickbreads, muffins and/or Scones – Easy to prepare the day before, can be served at room temperature, and inexpensive; these are a brunch no-brainer.
- Coffee and Tea – If you know all of your guests are coffee drinkers, you can skip the tea, otherwise it’s nice to provide tea for those who love their morning jolt of caffeine but don’t like coffee. Don’t forget to put out cream and sugar.
- Mimosas – Fill champagne flute almost halfway with champagne, and then add orange juice. You can either prepare these for guests as they arrive or let everyone make their own at your beverage station. If you prefer to keep your brunch alcohol-free, just serve the orange juice and skip the champagne.
- Water – Don’t forget to either put out a pretty pitcher of water and water glasses since most of your guests will either start with water or end with water.
For smaller groups, you can scale the menu back a bit but be sure to include:
- Either the breakfast casserole or the quiche
- Either the baked French toast or a baked good (e.g. muffins)
- Fruit salad
- All of the beverages
- Music – As with any party, don’t forget the importance of playing background music to set the mood. If you don’t know what you want to play, try Turntable Kitchen to find a playlist. For brunch, how about their Coffee & Toast Mixtape?
- Decorations – Like music, decorations can enhance the pleasant atmosphere of your party.
- At a bare minimum, you should have a small vase filled with flowers as your centerpiece.
- Download free printables to add decorative touches like water bottle labels, place cards, and decorations. My favorite source is Hostess with the Mostess. She has a huge variety and her designs are super cute.
- Seating — If you want to keep things casual, ditch the formal place settings and group your chairs in conversation circles in your main entertaining area near tables where guests can set their drinks while they eat. If you’re hosting a large group and can’t make room for everyone to sit, consider buying some plates with built-in stemware holders like these, so that guests can easily juggle both.