Over the holidays, my siblings and siblings-in-law were all in one place for a brief second. You could call it a Christmas miracle. We pounced on the opportunity to have brunch together, a fancy one. I’m a plain white tee and jeans kinda girl, but every once in a blue moon, life calls for a shiny gathering with breakable dishes and real napkins, around a table almost too pretty to sit at. Almost. Here’s how we threw a fancy, picture-worthy brunch (video and bloopers included).
Whoever said you need to throw a brunch alone? This one was made by many talented hands. Dissolving duties over a couple people keeps the mood light and allows people to shine at what they do best. We threw the brunch at my sister-in-law’s (Lauren) beautiful, I’m talking drop dead beautiful, apartment. My sister (Ashleigh) and I were in charge of food and drinks. Lauren and Kalli were in charge of making the table pretty.
Create a simple menu
Brunch doesn’t require a 3 course menu. It’s naturally a simple meal. I prefer it to dinner any day. When creating the menu, consider the dietary restrictions of your friends around the table. We had a couple Paleo eaters in our midst. No matter the restrictions, I like to create one unified menu so that no one feels left out. We went with pancakes, making 2 different batches—whole wheat and gluten- and dairy-free using this mix. We served them with maple syrup, whole milk yogurt, pomegranate seeds, cacao nibs, and coconut shreds. I know what you’re thinking: pancakes can be time intensive. Use a large cast iron or electric griddle to speed up the process.
Prep the night before
In general, recipes can be broken apart, so do some careful dissecting. Make ahead whenever possible. We prepped the dry pancake mixes and deseeded the pomegranates the night before. The morning of, we assembled and cooked the pancakes (kept warm in the oven). From the fridge, we pulled out the toppings and drinks just before the meal. If you’re making a pastry, most likely it can be baked the night before (or the dough can rest covered in the fridge for a morning bake). Likewise, if you’re making a frittata, roast or sauté the veggies ahead of time. Before heading to bed, pull out dishes and glasses. My best advice—make a list and delegate. The morning goes much more smoothly.
Dress the table
What’s a fancy brunch without a pretty table? I came over with a bouquet of eucalyptus ($5 at Trader Joe’s) and a bundle of greenery. Lauren and Kalli made magic by spreading it around the table to keep the profile low. You don’t have to be a professional flower arranger to accomplish this. Maybe our smartest idea, we used food as the centerpiece and tucked the toppings around the greenery. Stacks of pancakes provided nice height while keeping faces visible. I dressed the stacks lightly before we all gathered around the table for an extra pretty presentation.
Make sparkly drinks
I’ve never been big into champagne (hello headache), so we made morning cocktails with Seven Daughters Wine plus a splash of sparkling water and lemonade. They added extra glitz to the already beautiful table and required next to no prep. We invested our time into food prep knowing the drinks would be killer on their own. To build your own bar cart on a budget, check out ordinarydaze.com.
Plan for bloopers
Take a big deep breath, have fun, and plan for bloopers. They are the things good stories are made of. Our morning was filled with many. First, I neglected to inform everyone which stack was paleo friendly. By the time I sat down, nearly all the paleo pancakes were gone (and on the plates of non-paleo eaters). They absolutely loved them. I may have pulled the pancakes off my brother’s plate to salvage them. We had a good laugh. Glasses were broken, garnishes were eaten, and we had the time of our life.
Long story long, a little planning and list making goes a long way (says the non-planner). Keep the drinks and table decor simple, while spending a little extra time prepping the food. But most importantly, invite your friends into the process. Making something beautiful together and enjoying it together is far better than any styled picture. Now, go enter to win free wine so you can get your brunch planning started.
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Place ingredients and champagne flutes on a bar for easy drink making.
To make the Mimosas combine 1 part orange juice, 1 part chardonnay, plus a splash of sparking water into flute. Stir with rosemary sprig and sip slowly.
To make the Mojitos add a handful of mint leaves to a bowl. Muddle to release the flavors. Add a tiny pinch of mint leaves to a flute. Combine 2 parts chardonnay, 1 part sparkling lemonade, plus an ice cube. Cheers!
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I owe a huge thanks to these people, my family. Caleb, for shooting the prettiest video with the perfect amount of personality. Lauren and Kalli, for inviting us into your home, making magic around the table, and taking the coolest pictures on this blog to date. Ashleigh, for cooking stacks and stacks of pancakes. Brooke, for your well manicured, video-perfect hands. Kev, Matt, and Blake, for humoring the beautification process while simultaneously starving. You guys lived! I’d eat a fancy brunch with you any day.