Brunch Party Ideas
Cover tables with pages from the Sunday funnies. Or cover them with brown or white butcher paper, then set out crayons on the tables so guests can doodle before, during or after they eat — particularly perfect if kids are on the guest list.
Arrange flowers in coffeepots, teapots, mugs, teacups or creamer and sugar bowls. All that stuff already being used to serve your guests beverages? Pick up mismatched extras for a song at a thrift store or flea market. While you're there, get some eggcups, fill them with moss you buy at the nursery, and line them up down the table. Or match the sunny feel of the meal with small potted flowers or herbs.
Finally, set out bowls of fruit to do double duty as centerpiece and snack.
The typical brunch is a big buffet, which suits the most casual meal of the day, but if you want to mix it up a bit, consider a sit-down. You could even serve multiple courses, starting with a fruit or green salad, moving to an egg-based main dish with sides of bacon and hash browns, and finishing with a basket of pastries or even bread pudding for dessert.
If you do decide on a buffet, label dishes using place cards so guests don't have to wonder what's what, and stick to foods that can sit for a while without suffering — try frittatas, egg strata or bagels, for example. For extra points, propose toast to your guests by moving your toaster to the buffet table; just make sure it's on the far end so it doesn't jam the line.
Don't have enough tables and chairs to seat your brunch bunch? Serve finger foods only, since it's impossible to wield a knife while standing up holding a plate. But don't let that limit you. Think silver-dollar pancakes or even French toast bites — just cut the bread into cubes before you dunk and fry them.
Planning a dim sum brunch? Wheel dishes around on a rolling cart or come around with a tray offering small plates to your guests.
Finally, since the time for this party lends itself to entertaining guests of any age, parents may wonder if their children are invited. If so, let guests know right on your invitation by adding "Feel free to bring kids."
Embrace the laze by renting and screening your favorite Saturday morning shows from your childhood — think Scooby Doo, Banana Splits, She-Ra. Guests more football than Flintstones fans? If there's a game on, you've got instant entertainment.
Or let guests work off all those calories they're about to consume with physical games — especially good if you're expecting kids. For example, try an egg relay: Split guests into teams and give the leader of each team an egg on a spoon, instructing them to race to and from a tree and then pass the egg to the next team member — without dropping the egg and getting disqualified, of course — until the entire team has had a turn. (Just don't count on those eggs for any omelets, since they may get scrambled before you turn on the stove.) Or test your guests' flapjack-flipping skills with a pancake race. You could even combine food and entertainment with this contest: Tie doughnuts with string hanging from a pole or overhead branches, position blindfolded competitors in front of the dangling doughnuts and find out who can munch their Krispy Kreme fastest.
Aiming for a more mental workout? Get two copies of the morning paper, split guests into teams and see who can complete the crossword first.
A brunch party can range from super easy to super impressive. Some options:
Buy and serve
- Bagels with lox, flavored cream cheeses and tomato and cucumber slices
- A pitcher of milk and single-serving cereal boxes like you loved when you were a kid
Minimal assembly required
- Fruit salad
- Caesar salad
- Yogurt, fruit and granola sundaes
Now you're cooking
- Scrambled eggs
- Waffles (for a buffet, make them yourself and cook lightly beforehand, then split them in halves or quarters and put them out on a platter with instructions to toast them in the toaster, Eggo-style)
- Hash browns
- Muffins, quick breads or biscuits
- Eggs Benedict
- French toast with cinnamon and vanilla in the egg batter, topped with strawberries
- Breakfast burrito bar — scrambled eggs, fried onions and peppers, chopped tomato, grilled potato cubes, grated cheese, diced avocado, sausage, tortillas and salsa
- Crepes filled with Nutella and bananas or spinach and goat cheese
- Homemade cinnamon rolls fresh from the oven
Create a hot beverage bar starting with pots of regular and decaf coffee and all the flavor fixings, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and sweet chocolate powder. Add a variety of dairy options — nonfat milk, regular milk, half-and-half and condensed milk — and mix in a little something to spike the coffee with, like hazelnut-flavored, coffee-flavored or Irish cream liqueur. For those who prefer tea, offer English breakfast and a few herbal varieties as well as honey and lemon slices. Hot chocolate completes the bar for the Swiss misses and misters.
On the cold front, juice is a brunch beverage must. You can't go wrong with orange, but providing another kind, like grapefruit, tomato, carrot, or a mixed juice blend is a nice twist. If you want to go all out, you could even set up a smoothie station with fruits, juices, yogurt and ice; mark your blender with a piece of masking tape to show roughly how much to fill it for one serving.
For morning-appropriate cocktails, you need look no further than the Bloody Mary or mimosa — though for a less common (yet still classic) choice, bellinis are the order of the day.
Bellini (serves 4)
- 1 bottle chilled sparkling wine
- 3/4 cup fresh peach puree or peach nectar from a carton
Put the peach puree in a pitcher and pour the sparkling wine over it.