Who says your holiday party has to be a formal affair? Toss tradition to the wind and throw a laid-back weekend brunch for family and friends instead. While others are roasting chestnuts on an open fire, you and your guests can enjoy crepes smothered in decadent chocolate sauce. Now, that’s one heck of a way to celebrate. Follow our easy guide for ideas and tips on throwing a stress-free holiday weekend brunch:
The appeal of a weekend brunch is the informality. There’s no need for pretension or overstuffed decorum. A mismatched look can be pulled off with ease and élan. Here are some tips for making your party a great event:
- Clear your space and create a soft, inviting look by placing extra pillows on the couch along with a few throws and adding seat cushions to chairs. If you don’t have carpeting, pick up an inexpensive rug to make hard surfaces more comfy.
- Keep your colour scheme light and airy with white or beige and the introduction of a single festive colour (an out-and-out red and green look is too jarring this early in the day). Create an oh-so-now look by using two to three tones within the same colour family, such as dark green for napkins, a lighter shade for the glasses.
- Place your table or sidebar against a wall or under a window away from the entrance, but still easily accessible. Forgo the tablecloth for a simple runner down the middle.
- Set up your serving table with dishes at one end for easy pick-up. After this place your side dishes such as salad or fruit cocktail as well as continental breakfast staples like muffins, toasts, jams, croissants, etc. In the middle have your hot dishes like scrambled eggs and sausages and at the end place utensils either grouped into together in juice glasses (forks in one, knives in another) or rolled up in the napkins.
- On another smaller table set up a coffee and tea station. Brew good, strong, coffee and place the carafe on a warming pad so you don’t damage your furniture, then add little bowls of sugar, creamers, and other accessories around along with tea cups and mugs. Go for smaller mugs and tea cups that are easier to handle.
- Flowers can take your look to the next level, not to mention your pocket book. Instead of buying expensive bouquets, just tuck into your local grocery store and buy whatever blooms are on sale and that you find appealing. Toss a few petals around your serving dishes on your tables, take the rest of the flowers, cut the stems short and float each in a single bowl filled with water. Inexpensive flowers such as carnations and chrysanthemums will look exceptionally elegant tied with pretty bows and placed near your front entrance where guests will see them.
- Plates, mugs and tea cups – Don’t get perplexed if your dishes don’t match, few people have complete service for more than 4 or 8. Simply use even numbers, so that there are 4 of one set and 4 of another and then stack them interchangeably. Call friends and borrow dishes if you still think you won’t have enough or try second-hand stores and the Goodwill in your town, both good sources for really cool, unique patterned china—just wash them before using.
- Serving spoons and plates—you’ll probably need a few, so get them early. Holiday-themed serving ware isn’t a sin. If you find a piece you really like, just make it the centre attraction (not part of a 10 series set!). As for serving spoons, tongs and forks, don’t go over-sized, this will make them difficult to use.
- Chafing dish—a chafing dish is an invaluable investment that you’ll probably get a lot of use from down the road as well. It will make it a lot easier to prepare dishes ahead of time and keep them warm without running back to the kitchen to re-heat.
- Napkins—has one little item ever caused so much etiquette brouhaha? Well, the jury’s out and yes, it is ok to use paper napkins if you want to. Just don’t use the skimpy cheap kind, get the big quality luncheon ones instead. If you go the cloth napkin route, keep them simple, rolled individually and pilled on the table for easy access. No fuss, no muss.
The holidays are stressful enough, but your weekend event doesn’t have to be. In fact, sell family and friends on the causal appeal of this laid-back party—they’ll be grateful for it. And, because of it’s informality you can just send everyone an email and have them RSVP the same way.
A fun, casual event is highlighted with music that shares the same laid-back appeal. Try playing a contemporary take on holiday music by your favourite bands or artists. Shake things up by adding some non-holiday music into the mix so things don’t get too monotonous. Also, keep the tunes at a comfortable level, but not too high as to muffle conversations. Here are some great albums to stock your sound system with for the event:
- Now That’s What I Call Christmas! The Signature Collection [Various Artists]
- At Christmas [James Taylor]
- Barenaked for the Holidays [Barenaked Ladies]
- Merry Christmas [Mariah Carey]
- 8 Days of Christmas [Destiny’s Child]
Don’t let your guest leave empty handed. Inexpensive parting gifts are simple to make and are a great memento of the fun they had as they counted down to the New Year. Here are some inexpensive party favour gifts you can do weeks in advance in preparation for the big night:
- Buy a box of blank holiday cards and write a special note in each one for your guests. Tape a candy cane to each card or try your hand at our easy-to-make Christmas mouse magnets and attach one to each so your guests can hang your card on the fridge at home.
Ah, brunch, somewhere between breakfast and lunch and somehow a perfectly good excuse to have champagne at 11 am. Your brunch can be liquor-free or you could serve a signature drink or the aforementioned champagne with orange (it is the holidays after all). Keep you meals small and easy to prepare, with many you can do ahead to save time during the actual event. There won’t be a table involved, so make sure your meals are comfortable to eat without the aid of a sturdy surface to perch plates on top of.
Your meal set-up can be a combination of buffet service and plated dishes. For hot items that have to be made at the last minute, like eggs Benedict or crepes, make them and then place onto your serving plates. Get a few your guests to help you pass them around.