“Let’s have brunch at my place next weekend!”
It’s a phrase that’s easy to utter spur of the moment when you’re out with friends, but delivering on the offer can be stressful if you aren’t careful. Here are a handful of tips to help you pull off a flawless brunch and – gasp! – actually get to enjoy it and be present in the moment, too.
Include the right number of people. I find that 8 to 10 attendees (including the host) make for an ideal brunch party. It’s a manageable enough number – and you easily have enough silverware, plates, and glasses for a group of that size – but also allows for enough people to foster lively conversation and an energized atmosphere.
Know guests’ dietary restrictions. Once you have your guest list solidified, be sure you know if there are any foods your guests can’t or don’t eat and plan accordingly. Have someone who doesn’t do dairy? Have almond milk or soymilk on hand for coffee, and don’t put cheese on everything. What about a guest who’s gluten intolerant? Don’t make it a bagels-only affair. Etc.
Choose recipes judiciously. Sure, you make a mean omelet, and can flip a legendary pancake. But do you really want to be tied to the stove the whole time in order to serve up those menu items? Instead, opt for dishes that feed a group well and that you can make in advance. A sample menu might include items like: a frittata or breakfast casserole, biscuits or scones (baked in advance, frozen, and reheated in the oven), a coffee cake for a sweeter component, and sliced fruit.
Limit the cocktail options. Follow the lead of those weddings that feature a signature cocktail and keep things simple beverage-wise. Go all-in on mimosas, for example, and stock up on prosecco and juice (maybe have an o.j. and a grapefruit option for some variety), or build a killer bloody mary bar for your guests to enjoy.
Be open to helpers. Some guests – either before the event or during – will want to contribute in some way. Let them! Feel free to ask them to bring a food item (like the fruit salad, or a bottle of prosecco), or to jump in and help clear the table during the event if they express interest in helping.
Shop smart. Once you have your menu finalized, take careful inventory of your pantry and make a list of all the items you’ll need to purchase. Be sure to factor in things like coffee, creamer, and jams/jellies for biscuits and scones, as well as disposable items like napkins if needed.
Don’t miss out on the fun. When the brunch is underway, it’s tempting to want to clean up or hover to see if anyone needs anything. Instead, try your best to enjoy this party you’re throwing. Participate in conversation. Enjoy the food you lovingly prepared. Worry about the cleanup later.
PHOTO: Pauline Kletti