Brunch gets a bad rap sometimes, but it’s kind of the perfect weekend gathering to host (or attend). Less formal than a dinner party, and more freedom for guests since they can still dash to late afternoon or evening plans. There is just something joyful about brunch—and hosting one for your friends can be joyful too, with a few great tips, some planning, and a touch of humor.
Related Reading: 9 Healthy Brunch Recipes
I can’t think of a brunch party I’d rather attend than at designer, potter, and author Jonathan Adler’s home. And though he’s yet to invite me *checks mailbox again* the design maven—who recently launched a clever line of funky housewares, furniture, and pottery on Amazon called Now House—did share some of his favorite ideas and habits for hosting a totally fabuloso weekend brunch.
Roll Out a Beautiful Brunch Bar Cart
A home bar cart is to a home brunch as the water cooler is to the office. It can have a gravitational pull of sorts, a place to gather, mix an adult drink, or snatch up a piece of fruit. Adler suggests making it functional but also eye-catching and glamorous.
“The Vally Bar Cart I designed for the Now House line was truly meant to be rolled out for entertaining,” says Adler. “It’s as functional as it is photogenic and can be used to display small plates, spirits, or décor. To moi [Adler], no host or hostesses’ home feels complete without a well-stocked bar cart.”
Since it’s brunch you can build it into a Bloody Mary bar with all the fixings and a good homemade Bloody Mary mix, or a mimosa bar with different fresh juices like orange, peach, grapefruit, and strawberry. If your friends aren’t the drinkin’ types so much, then find some new friends who are (just kidding!), but do consider building a low-alcohol or non-alcoholic bar cart with some of the fabulous new boozeless spirits and bar products on the market. Give the bar cart color and texture with a vase of flowers, like this modern graphic number from Adler’s line stuffed with fresh-cut wildflowers—and nothing looks better than bowls of freshly cut citrus.
Vally Bart Cart, $348 on Amazon
Modern and minimalist, Adler's bar cart is a blank canvas on which to work. Available in white, black, and mint green.
Edge Champagne Glass (set of 4), $38.97 on Amazon
A chic modern Champagne flute with unusual design.
Dublin Cocktail Carafe, $22.99 on Amazon
Perfect for Bloodys and mimosas alike.
Consider Strata for a Decadent Main
No need to be a hero with a million and one different types of dishes, side dishes, and desserts. French toast, pancakes, and even waffles demand a lot of attention, especially if you want to get them out hot. And you probably don’t want to be making eggs to order or even in large batches (cold eggs will sink your brunch) either. A quiche is a great option, like this picture perfect asparagus quiche, but consider the strata as well, which is similar but replaces the pie crust with cubes of French or sourdough bread both throughout and atop the egg/milk mixture. The beauty of a strata is the bready top keeps the whole thing from drying out or overcooking.
Our favorite strata recipe calls for sausage and cheddar cheese but swap those for ham and swiss, chorizo and manchego, vegetables, or really any other combination you fancy. It’s a great make-ahead brunch main course, too— just assemble and refrigerate until you’re ready to pop it in the oven to bake.
Cuisinart Classic Ceramic Baker, $32.70 on Amazon
The perfect bakeware to serve a strata or casserole.
A Special Fruit Salad for Brunch
To cut through the heft and richness of an egg casserole, serve a bright, acidic fruit salad. In a recent piece, our editor Jen Wheeler explains how to make a fruit salad that doesn’t suck. One of our favorite recipes incorporates a touch of good balsamic vinegar. Serve it all up on in a pretty glass bowl or pile some on one of Adler’s way-fun black and white Wink trays.
Black & White Wink Tray, $20 on Amazon
Eye absolutely adore this tray.
“Make Em’ Laugh or They’ll Kill You”
Oscar Wilde may have said that and he sure seems like he’d have known his way around a lively brunch. Remember, brunch is light, bright,, and casual so treat it as such. Find some fun pieces of decor or dinnerware to incorporate that will remind your guests to relax their shoulders and have that extra slice of raspberry torte. Or play games!
“Games are also great at any soirée,” says Adler. “They’re a nice distraction and most people are super-competitive. I love a high/low mix: Keep it chic with a lacquer backgammon set, then take it real low-brow with something like Cards Against Humanity.”
Yellow Mountain Imports Lacquer Backgammon Set, $42 on Amazon
Stunning detailed wood inlay and packs up easy for travel!
Giraffe Dinner Plate, $19.99 on Amazon
Don't be afraid to get a little wild at brunch.
Header image by Chowhound