I have always loved planing parties and hosting friends and family at my table. It started for me as a child when my mother would let me help her decorate the table for each holiday dinner (I’m sure I mostly got in the way, but my mother never let on if I was!) In middle school I saved up my lunch money for an entire year and threw a surprise party for my parents twenty-fifth anniversary (I was quite proud of this overly teal infused party complete with crepe paper bells, a tiered wedding cake and napkins imprinted with their names.) In high school I planned prom (I was completely out of control with this and probably planned the most expensive prom ever- I bet 17 years later my old high school is still paying off the bills I created with this prom.) In college I spent time organizing dinner parties for my friends instead of studying (I might have chosen to buy beautiful dishes, linens and wine glasses instead of the required text books and reading materials I was supposed to be using my money for.)
I guess it is just part of who I am… gathering a group of people, creating a beautiful setting and having the opportunity to serve the people I love. There is something special that happens when people can leave their cares and worries at the door, and just simply gather around a table and break bread together. I love it. This is why I started our company and chose my line of work. It just comes naturally for me.
But what if it doesn’t come naturally for you? The idea of hosting an Easter brunch might seem daunting and scary to you. It can be easy to get lost in the details and not really even know where to start. Cooking a meal alone might feel like a small mountain to climb, let alone trying to make a beautiful table. You might look at the photos from our brunch and feel like you could never replicate something similar. Looking at the big picture may feel overwhelming and you might be wondering where to even begin.
Our goal with this post is to help you know where to start and really dissect what we created. Hopefully by breaking it down piece by piece, you’ll realize this is totally something you can accomplish.
I definitely get more excited and inspired to decorate the table than I do about creating the meal, so lets start with that. decorations create an ambience and set the tone for your meal. It elevates the meal from something ordinary, and makes it feel special. This in turn makes your guests feel special- which is the whole point of hosting in the first place.
Start by thinking of what inspires you personally. For me, I wanted our table to be inspired by spring. When I think of spring, the first words that come to mind are fresh, light, playful and fun. I wanted our brunch to reflect that mood and evoke the feeling of happiness. I ran in that direction for all of my choices.
I started by borrowing the lucite flatware from my friend Brandy. I had seen her post a picture using this flatware on Instagram, loved it and asked to borrow it for the brunch. She graciously said yes! (Don’t be afraid to ask friends to borrow items for your brunch- people are usually flattered to loan things, and it saves you some money while sourcing all of the different elements to make your table feel special). I love the classic design of the flatware while still retaining a whimsical and carefree style- perfect for the mood I wanted to create. I built the rest of the décor from there.
I chose vases with a fun dotted pattern in addition to glasses that had the same lighthearted feel of the silverware. I filled them with spring blooms that I bought from our local grocery store. I didn’t want the flower centerpieces to feel fussy, so I didn’t really arrange anything at all- just cut the stems shorter, and dropped them into their vases. This kept it simple and very quick to put together. It also means that anyone can replicate this.
I knew I wanted to use white napkins for a fresh look, but didn’t want to purchase expensive table linens. So I shopped at the fabric store and found inexpensive white fabric with the same dotted pattern as the vases, and used it to make a simple runner and napkins just by cutting squares and a long rectangle. I didn’t finish the edges or do any sewing; I literally just cut and ripped the fabric into the sizes I needed. I loved the raw unfinished edge of the pieces that I made. The little bit of fraying adds character to the table.
I often add something edible to my centerpieces, both when we host at home and at the weddings we create. Macarons feel playful, and the pistachio color is perfect for spring. These little treats are beautiful as decor and are easy for your guests to grab and eat. It also helps to keep the conversation going after the meal is over, because people will continue to snack on the decor.
To add to the feeling of fun and playfulness, I chose mismatched glasses and stemware for each guest’s place setting. Using different patterns helps the table feel less formal and keeps it from becoming fussy.
These pistachio macarons are tasty to eat and pretty to look at. Although they can be tricky and time consuming to make, The results are so rewarding. I will be sharing the recipe I used for these macarons along with step by step guidance. Macarons can be made a couple days before your brunch, so all you have to do the morning of the brunch is stack and serve.
We wanted to add some color to our brunch buffet, so Jamie created a simple citrus salad. She sliced up different varieties and sizes of oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. She then cut off the peels to form hexagon and octagon shapes, and finished by stacking them up on a serving tray.
We also pulled in the citrus colors from the salad with our juice bar. Now… you can choose to get fancy and squeeze your own fruit and make fresh juice… but we don’t really have time for that. Store bought juice tastes great, and looks beautiful when served in fun bottles. I don’t have the graphic design skills to create fun tags to label the juice bottles, so I cut up chunks of the coordinating fruit to indicate what our guests were pouring for themselves. Although I love fancy tags with fun calligraphy, these little identifying fruit cups added charm and interest to our juice bar.
One of the things I love the most about spring is all of the blooming branches. The little buds are a simple reminder that spring has arrived. Putting a few branches into a vase adds height, fills the corner of a room and makes a big statement. The best part is how quick, easy and affordable it is.
I had the vision of creating a mini bakery on the vintage buffet in our home. (I love sweets) I thought this would be a fun way to indulge our guests. (ok… you got me… I just wanted to indulge myself!) But seriously…who doesn’t love a huge spread of sweet treats and the ability to select as much of anything you want? I covered these baked goods with glass domes to create the look and feel of a true bakery.
We’ll be sharing the recipe later this week for these soft and chewy cinnamon rolls we created. What I love about cinnamon rolls is that you do all of the hard work the night before your brunch, and then just let the dough rise overnight in the fridge. Then all you have to do the morning of your brunch is pop them in the oven. The smell of freshly baked rolls and hot cinnamon will fill your entire house and greet your guests when they arrive. (Honestly what I really great about this is that it gives me time to clean up! I make a huge mess when I am in the kitchen and doing this the night before leaves me the time to clean up so I don’t look like a hot mess when my guests arrive)
I used to think if someone was coming over that I would be “cheating” if I didn’t bake everything from scratch. The problem was, I would be so exhausted by the time my guests arrived, that I would not enjoy my company (which defeats the purpose of hosting). It’s ok to go to the local doughnut shop or French bakery or even your grocery store and fill in your buffet with store bought items. This will save you time, money, kitchen clean-up and your sanity. The best part is, you will have saved up all of the energy you would have used on endless baking, giving you more energy to enjoy your own party. No one will think you have cheated. Your guests would prefer to have you mentally present, rather than exhausted from baking too much. (I’ve learned this lesson the hard way- and I’m still figuring this one out!)
As your guests arrive, pop the champagne and open up the juice bar for mimosas while you finish putting out the last of the food. (Have a towel ready in case you have a surprise like Jamie did)
Our menu was simple: savory quiche, assorted fruit, a simple spring green salad tossed with fresh strawberries and a berry vinaigrette, and the bakery display of croissants with jam, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and macarons. It might sound like a lot of food to prepare, but it was really quite simple when you break down the individual components (especially when you let go of your need to personally make and bake everything yourself). And remember, most of this can be done ahead of time so you aren’t rushing or stressing when your guests arrive. Pick a few key things you want to make, and then purchase everything else or you could even choose to ask your guests bring a dish to share.
These savory quiches were filled with caramelized onions, goat cheese, roasted red peppers, bacon and diced artichoke hearts. (so so good.) Jamie made them the day before and then all we had to do the morning of our brunch was heat them up to an enjoyable temperature. This alleviated the need to get up early and start cooking and baking at the crack of dawn. We’ll also be sharing our quiche recipe later this week with a tutorial to help with your success.
People think that Jamie and I must be amazing cooks. (umm… yeah… no…) The truth is, we actually don’t really know much about cooking at all. It’s true that we do love to bake cookies, pies and cakes, but we haven’t really ever transferred those skills over to learning how to cook dinner. I think this is why we love the idea of brunch. It’s a meal that is relatively simple to put together, we can use our baking skills to create it, and as I mentioned above, most items can be prepared ahead of time so we can also be fully present and enjoy our guests once they arrive.
Whether you are celebrating Easter or just welcoming the beginning of Spring and warmer month, there is nothing better than gathering with your friends and family over a meal filled with sweet and savory treats. Spring is the perfect season to host a brunch, and hopefully this post gives you the confidence to invite some people over.
Just remember to always check your perspective and priorities. The best part about brunch wasn’t the food, the flowers or even the macarons (although those little pistachio treats are really quite tasty!) What I’ll remember most about this morning we spent with friends was the laughter we shared and the friendships that were deepened. That’s the true purpose behind doing what we do. It’s not about impressing people. It’s about creating community, spreading love, serving people and giving them an experience where they feel welcomed and loved. Whether you brunch over homemade confections or you source the entire meal from Costco- it doesn’t matter as long as you don’t lose the perspective and purpose behind what hosting is really all about- delighting your guests.
video: Cabfare Productions