6 Things That Will Take Any At-Home Brunch to the Next Level, According to Entertaining Experts

published Jun 6, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

One of my favorite things in the world is brunch. I love nothing more than the cherished ritual of easing into my weekend by greeting the day with good coffee, delicious food, and fun friends. And now that many of my loved ones are fully vaccinated from COVID-19, we feel comfortable enough to have friends and family over for meals. I don’t consider myself an expert in the kitchen by any means, but what I love about brunch is that it doesn’t have to be overly fancy to be delicious, and the same goes for hosting. 

To help you ease back into at-home entertaining, I asked three experts about their must-haves when it comes to hosting an easy breezy summer brunch at home. I hope their answers inspire you to take a breath, call your friends, and get excited for your next noontime get-together.

A Plan Made in Advance

To keep stress levels low, setting a simple plan ahead of time can help you avoid any last-minute scrambling just before your guests arrive. “Brunch is especially tricky as there’s barely any time on the day-of.” Abigail Cook Stone, the founder and CEO of Otherland Candles, tells Apartment Therapy. Instead, she recommends planning several days in advance. “Two days out, I focus on home prep: cleaned and tidied, table fully tablescaped, and bar set up and stocked with sparkling glassware and colorful cocktail napkins from Caspari,” she notes. “The day before is all about food and drink prep: I buy my ingredients and flowers, write out a game plan, pick out my outfit, arrange the flowers, and pre-prep anything that allows.”  

Keeping things simple and prepping ahead of time will allow you to be fully present once your guests arrive, and that’s really what the event is about. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time a few days before your brunch to get your home, your menu, and yourself ready!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

A Simple Tablescape

Even a relaxed and casual brunch can benefit from a few unique touches in the name of creating a special experience for your guests. Decorating your table with a centerpiece, and being intentional with your dishes and silverware can elevate your everyday table to one fit for an occasion. Blogger and New York Times best-selling author Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room loves centering her table with greenery. “A bouquet can be a sweet centerpiece, but to be a little different I will often pick up some potted plants at a grocery store or local nursery to use on my tables,” she says. “They are economical, too. They last for a long time and can be planted outdoors when you’re done entertaining!”

Candles also make a great addition to a summer centerpiece — just be sure to position them away from people’s reaching arms. Michaels suggests using colorful taper candles at the center of your table. “You can vary the heights of your candle holders, and even use multiple candle colors for a visually interesting display,” she notes. Or, if you’d like to set the scene with an inviting scent, Cook Stone recommends Otherland’s Stone Fruit or Freshwater Pearl candles for a summery vibe.

Plates, Bowls and Servingware You Already Own

Hosting may bring about panicked thoughts of, “Are my dishes nice enough?” Take some pressure off of yourself and embrace the dishes you already own. 

“You can serve food on a variety of pretty plates, bowls, and cake stands.” Michaels says. “They don’t have to all match! A mix of plate sizes is fine too, your guests may enjoy options.”  

And if you do have special plates and bowls, why not bring them out? “I love mixing vibrant tablecloths with some of my favorite traditional pieces, like my grandmother’s fine china or mismatched plates from my thrifting adventures,” Cook Stone says.

A Great Morning Playlist

There’s nothing better than stepping into someone else’s home and instantly feeling relaxed and at ease. An easy way to create that is with a great playlist. “Music is one of my favorite ways to instantly transform the vibe in your home to create a warm and lively atmosphere from the second your guests step inside the door,” Cook Stone shares. “I can’t stress enough how transformative music can be.”

Whether you go with a mix of sunny, uplifting tunes, or opt for more chill vibes, Michaels recommends music that will “elevate the morning mood without annoying guests who have not yet had their coffee.” 

Most music platforms have plenty of pre-made playlists to choose from, with mixes that center genres like jazz, pop, easy-listening, and hip-hop. You can also create a mix of your favorites and share the playlists with friends after your brunch wraps.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

A Special Drink

Another way to feel instantly welcome is to be offered a drink as you’re settling in. And according to Haus co-founder Helena Price Hambrecht, planning your fete’s signature drink ahead of time will save you time. “We like making batched drinks in a pitcher to keep things easy,” Price Hambrecht shares of the entertaining rituals she shares with her husband. 

A signature drink doesn’t have to be alcoholic either. Having juice or sparkling cider as well as flavored seltzers will give your guests options. Of course, if you’re looking for a traditional brunch cocktail, there are plenty of ways to reinterpret the classics:  Price Hambrecht loves using Haus’s Citrus Flower as a base for mimosas.

If you have guests who would prefer a cup of coffee or tea, putting together a coffee bar with milk choices and sweeteners is easy. Or if you’re feeling fancy, Price Hambrecht recommends a coffee and tonic. “Pour up some cold brew or espresso with a good tonic like Boylan or Jack Rudy,” Price Hambrecht says. “It’s energizing, refreshing, and will make you feel like you’re in Europe.”

A Post-Brunch Walk

Whatever your menu, you and your guests will likely eat to your hearts’ content… and may even feel like you need a nap. To combat that drowsiness, the Hambrechts recommend a post-brunch walk. “When we’re at our ranch in Healdsburg, we like to take brunch guests for a walk around the property after we eat,” Price Hambrecht says. “The same advice goes regardless of where you live. It helps shake off that sluggish post-brunch feeling and give you some energy for the afternoon ahead.”