I'm not one for making a big deal of my birthday, but I do like to feed the people that I love so I didn't want the opportunity to go to waste. Since I'm not drinking this year (and feeling very sore about it, if you can't tell...) a dinner or night at the pub felt like it wouldn't be all that much fun for me (being the only sober person at your own party is not my idea of the best time!) so brunch was the obvious choice.
I considered a brunch out, but with almost 20 people on the guest list, finding somewhere suitable felt like too much of an undertaking, so I decided to throw a little brunch party instead. Bloody Marys were still on the table for those that could partake, but it's not such an alcohol-focused event (and meant I could still have an afternoon nap once all the guests had left...). Plus, with two new little babies due into our friendship group by the end of January, the casualness of a brunch party just seemed to work for everyone. Oh, and there's French Toast. Whilst I don't want to blow my own trumpet, it's a winner of an idea all round.
It was so lovely to spend time with my wonderful friends, and on a Sunday morning to boot - which is usually dead time in the world of socialising. The casual nature of the event worked so much better than a dinner party for this number of people. I got to have baby cuddles, some of my favourite brunch dishes, and I didn't spend the whole time over the stove. Best birthday ever? Maybe. (Unless you're Tuna Fey, who hid upstairs under the spare bed the entire time. Safe to say she's not a party person).
If you want to have a go at hosting your own brunch party, here's a few top tips from me to you.
Keep it Casual
People are busy these days, which means getting people to all sit down together at a set time can sometimes be more hassle than its worth. The beauty of a brunch party is that it can span over a few hours, with people popping in and out as needed. Don't stress about getting everything on the table at once, let people pick dishes as and when they come out of the oven, and save yourself the trouble. But... set an end time so people know when to expect to leave - it's much easier than having an awkward 'kicking out' when friends have outstayed their welcome past your nap time!
You ideally want to minimise your time in the kitchen, where possible, so make ahead dishes are your friends. Here's what I made as a starter for ten, but there are infinite varieties on French Toast, scones, muffins and breakfast casseroles to suit any taste.
- Nutella & Cinnamon Puff Pastry Rolls (recipe coming soon!)
- Blueberry Pancake Casserole
- Baked Vanilla Spice French Toast
- Potato Rostis
- Huevos Rancheros Breakfast Strata
I find that a mix of sweet and savoury works best to satisfy everyone when it comes to brunch! A few condiments, some freshly cooked sausages and a fruit salad with honey and yoghurt completed the menu and there was more than enough to go around (despite my panics to the contrary).
Decide Where to Cut Corners
I like to serve people home-cooked meals when they come to my house, but it's not always possible (or pleasurable) to make everything from scratch when you're hosting for a big number. Deciding where you're happy to cut corners will make your life a lot easier - especially when people are turning up at 10am - and most people probably won't even notice (or care). For me that looked like non-fancy coffee, frozen pastries that could be baked on the day, store bought condiments (like salsa and guacamole) and a quick dash to the shops for bread in the morning (I would have liked to make my own, but who has the proving time?). Your corners might be different depending on what you care about the most on your brunch table, and don't forget the best corner cutting measure of all - asking people to bring a dish!
Whilst I realise it's not great for the environment, sometimes it is easier to just gather everything up at the end of a party and throw it in the bin rather than saddling yourself with piles of washing up. I certainly don't have enough crockery or cups for 20 people, and I doubt you do either, so grab some paper or plastic plates and vow to recycle religiously for the rest of the year.