If you’re going to be hosting a brunch and want some ideas for pulling it off without causing yourself too much stress, these tips will definitely help!
When the weather starts to get nice, there is nothing better than hosting a brunch to bring people together.
Every year, I host an annual Memorial Day brunch, that has become such a tradition with my friends I think they would show up even if I didn’t invite them 🙂 It seems to get bigger and bigger every year, so I need to be able to get it set up and organized as easily as possible. Being too stressed out to enjoy everyone’s company kind of defeats the purpose!
Which is why I like to do a brunch.
Putting together a brunch is less work than a full dinner, and gives you a lot of flexibility with the type of food you can serve.
It’s also very easy to serve buffet-style…which greatly cuts down the amount of running around you have to do since you don’t have to serve people. And anything that decreases the amount of work to do also decreases stress levels.
So here are the lessons I have learned for hosting a brunch — stress-free.
Set Your Table(s) Ahead of Time
Set your table the night before.
If you end up being crunched for time, it’s much easier to be finishing up your cooking while people are arriving, than it is to be trying to get your table to look just right.
And since you won’t be rushing to get the table done, you can take the time to make the table look its best.
Shop The Table
Don’t Worry If Your Dishes Don’t Match
Since I always seem to have more people than I have place settings of any one china pattern, mixing and matching dishes is the only way to go.
The table ends up looking interesting and you get to put your dishes to use.
My Memorial Day table had blue, white and silver as the main color theme (with splashes of red). I had to use dishes from 3 different dish sets to get this look.
Shop The Table
Use Simple Center Pieces
Using a single rose inside a round glass lets you have flowers on the table that are low enough for everyone to see across. And they’re really easy to make, which means you won’t have to spend a bunch of time creating them.
The roses last just as long this way as they do with a longer stem, so don’t worry about putting them out a day ahead of time. This simple centerpiece ends up looking really elegant!
The rose in a glass trick is very easy to do.
1. Fill the glass half full with water.
2. Cut the rose stem shorter than the water level (so that the rose can float in the glass).
3. Put the rose in the glass.
Since you probably have a few glasses that are the same, it’s an easy way to create a unified centerpiece that stretches the length of the table. Or you could use different sizes and shapes of glasses if you want a more eclectic look.
Shop The Centerpiece
Add Some Extra Tables
If you have more people than your dining table will hold, use other tables covered with a tablecloth to add more seating space.
The tables themselves don’t have to look good since they are covered (I have even used card tables for this purpose)…and you don’t even need to have matching tablecloths. This gives you an excuse to use more dishes!
The other table at this brunch had a pink, purple and gold as the theme…completely different from the white, blue and silver color scheme of the first table.
Be Prepared for Extra People
It never fails (at least at my brunch)…everyone is already sitting down to eat, and then a couple of unexpected guests drop by. If you are expecting some stragglers who may not make it for the sit-down portion of the meal, set up cutlery, plates, and napkins that are easy to get to. Then they can help themselves to the buffet when they arrive.
To prevent myself from getting flustered, I always have some extra cutlery, plates, and napkins available and easy to get to. Then any stragglers can help themselves to the buffet and sit at the kitchen island (or anywhere else for that matter). And I don’t have to interrupt everyone else’s brunch to get them settled.
Shop The Table
Use Outdoor Decorations That Can Get Rained On
If the weather is nice, you might want to plan on having some people outside. As with any outdoor party, you will need to have a Plan B in case it rains…and it is much easier to go to plan B if you don’t have to run around bringing all those outdoor decorations in if it rains.
You can group together a few mix-and-match vases (such as these blue and white ones) as a simple outdoor centerpiece. If it starts to rain, you won’t have to worry about them getting wet.
Serve Food That Can Be Made Ahead of Time
Brunch is flexible because you can serve breakfast and lunch food. Even better…a lot of these foods can be made ahead of time. This lets you get the food ready before your guests arrive and leaves you free to meet and greet. Not having to cook while you are getting drinks and serving people always decreases your stress level.
Brunch can also include lunch-type food such as shrimp cocktail, quiche, salad, deviled eggs, and make-your-own-sandwiches with ham, cheese, and biscuits (or any other type of sandwich trimmings you like)…all of which are easy to prepare ahead of time.
My new favorite salad combines lettuce, fruit and goat cheese (click HERE to get the recipe). It’s refreshing and very easy to make. I like it with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but I always serve the dressing on the side and provide a selection for other people that may prefer ranch or honey mustard dressing. That also means the salad can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to put it out.
Note: Pinning this image will link to the original recipe source on bakingbytes.com
For the people with a sweet tooth, pastries are always a good brunch option. These danishes from bakingbytes.com can be made the day before (no last minute cooking!) Click HERE to get the recipe.
I try to keep the desserts pretty light since everyone is usually full by the time they have finished with the regular brunch food (and I don’t want to be left with a bunch of sweets that I’ll end up eating myself).
Use Warming Dishes And Crock Pots To Keep Food Warm
Most traditional breakfast foods (such as scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, and biscuits) do well in warming dishes*…which is why the big hotel brunches always include these staples.
I like to have a couple of these 3-dish servers. They provide lots of space for serving different dishes.
Or you can remove the top part altogether and use it as a warming tray.
Have Your Guests Make Their Own Food
Setting up a do-it-yourself waffle station lets your guests do some of the work, and gets people mingling. Mix up the waffle batter and put it in an easy-to-access location along with a waffle iron*, and your favorite waffle toppings.
Most people really enjoy the interactive nature of making their own food, and it takes a lot of the pressure off you!
Limit the Drink Options
Traditional brunch cocktails such as Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s (or in this case Bloody Caesar’s) go over very well at brunch. I set up my bar cart with the Mimosa ingredients and mixed Bloody Mary’s. It adds to the decor and lets my guests can help themselves.
Mimosas are easy to mix. They are made of half sparkling wine and half orange juice…allowing your guests to mix their own means they can put more or less sparkling wine as they choose.
Bloody Caesar’s are a lighter version of a Bloody Mary that uses Clamato juice instead of tomato juice. Click HERE to see my favorite Caesar recipe (if you would rather have Bloody Mary’s, just replace the Clamato juice with tomato juice).
Sangria is also a popular choice for Sunday brunch. It can be made a day ahead (and actually tastes better if it sits for a while). Serving it in a drink dispenser makes it easy for guests to help themselves. Click HERE to find my favorite Sangria recipe.
Standards like coffee and tea (or sweet tea if you live in the south) are also a good idea to have on hand for a brunch.
Bonus Tip: Turn On Some Music
I know I said there were only 10 tips and this is number 11…but you can’t forget about the background music…
Background music really helps to set the tone for your brunch. I am a big fan of Pandora when it comes to music for pretty much any type of get-together. You can have it play any kind of music you want, and you don’t have to worry about getting up to change CD’s or having to listen to too many ads.
Since people are generally talking at brunch, I usually pick something that’s not too loud but still has some energy to it (like the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong channel). It’s also a good idea to turn it on right when you get up…if you do get a little rushed for time, the music seems to be the thing that gets forgotten…and not having it really makes a difference to the mood of your meal.
The last secret to hosting a stress-free brunch is to have fun! When you’re having fun, your guests will too, and everyone will remember what a great time they had at your brunch. You never know…next year, they might be showing up at your door without an invitation, too 🙂[do_widget id=text-26]