We’ve all done it. Sunday morning. Slightly — or hugely — hung over. Arrive at the restaurant, sunglasses on, ready for a hearty meal and some hair of the dog.
There is major appeal to eating brunch out at your fave spot: You don’t have to make the food or do the dishes. Or stand up at all. And you’d never attempt to make fried chicken at home, especially at 10 a.m.
But you have options. You can make brunch great, cheap, relaxed and as boozy as you want. Brunch at home is the new black.
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In the past few years, brunch has blown up to the point of no return. Something that used to be a casual way to debrief with friends about the night before has turned into a $60 investment for which you probably need a reservation. While the occasional time and money splurge can be great, a lot of fun can be had at a friend’s house. Pick the couple with the nicest backyard, potluck some simple fare and settle in. Sunday Funday is an inevitability when you start with brunch.
Three local experts share their advice for pulling off a fun and relaxed brunch at home: Bev Weidner of the food blog bevcooks.com; thatsfestiveaf.com food and lifestyle writer Emily Farris; and jasminediane.com blogger Jasmine Cooper.
“Brunch just has this sparkle to the word,” Weidner says. But, Farris adds, “Brunch out has gotten (to be) a little too much of a scene. I love the idea of hosting a brunch. … I don’t want to wait in line to eat a meal.”
Keep reading for brunch-spiration. We’ve got menu ideas, cocktail suggestions and even the activities to kick off a day party.
If you’re nursing a hangover, cooking may be the last thing you want to do. But with a little planning, brunch doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated.
“You can keep brunch simple at home,” Weidner says. “You don’t have to go all-out. You don’t have to have a perfect table.”
One suggested menu: quiche, a simple green salad, fresh fruit and bagels with cream cheese. Everything can be made (or bought) ahead of time, and the quiche can even be served at room temperature. Perfect for setting out in the morning as your guests arrive.
This menu is on the lighter side (no biscuits and gravy or half-pound burger here), which means that your whole afternoon won’t be consumed by an accidental couch nap.
When you’re plotting the menu, the only must-have, according to our experts, is eggs.
“Eggs are really important, even if it’s an egg on a burger or sandwich,” Farris says, adding that a sandwich addition is perfect if you were overserved the night before.
For a less fussy take on eggs Benedict, that quintessential brunch dish, Weidner suggests toasting English muffins topped with sharp, melted white cheddar, bacon and soft-boiled eggs.
“The egg oozes onto the melted cheese and, especially when you drizzle it with a little olive oil and salt on top, it has the exact same look and feel (as eggs Benedict), but it’s easier to make and deal with at home,” she says.
Cooper suggests a potluck brunch, both to make it easier on the host and to add a little variety.
“Whatever goes for food, that’s what makes it brunch,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be traditional. When you make it a potluck, it’s even more interesting.” Her ideal spread includes cheesy scrambled eggs, pancakes, fried chicken, macaroni salad and fruit salad.
Farris agrees that going potluck-style is best.
“It makes it affordable,” she says, “and if somebody is bringing something, they’re less likely to flake.”
Her ideal brunch is coffee cake, frittata, bacon and sausage, and “lots and lots of drinks.”
Getting to tipsy
Alcohol is what truly separates brunch from breakfast, Weidner says: “It’s an excuse to drink booze before noon, let’s be honest.”
Cooper agrees. Her signature brunch order (chicken and waffles) includes “two to four mimosas.”
Farris blogs about cocktails and, for our photo shoot, she made grapefruit ginger mimosas featuring fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and ginger liqueur. Find the recipe at “That’s Festive AF.”
“When I’m having brunch with ladies, I love the idea of a light, fruity Champagne cocktail,” she says. She raises a point: Brunchers are either Team Sweet (mimosas and Bellinis) or Team Savory (Bloody Marys).
If you want to go the savory route, Farris suggests making chilaquiles ahead of time and serving Bloody Marias, a tequila spin on the classic bloody.
When you’re serving bloodies, you can also incorporate one of Farris’ favorite hosting tricks: an interactive serving station.
“Maybe I’ll make the mix for the Bloody Mary, and people can pick their own toppings,” she says. “If you have people who don’t know each other, it’s a good conversation starter.” An interactive station also gives guests something to do with their hands during the potentially awkward arrival-time of any party.
While Bloody Marys and mimosas get most of the brunch cocktail shine, Farris wants readers to remember the boozy coffee.
“It depends on what kind of mood I’m in, and how lazy I’m feeling, and how much prep I feel like doing, but I’m not too good to just put Bailey’s in my coffee,” she says.
If you feel like spending a little more money, she recommends Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream. “It’s not so cloyingly sweet and has a minty, herbal taste,” Farris says.
Her final cocktail tip is the most important: “I like to have drinks as soon as people arrive,” Farris says. “I don’t care what the occasion is. When people walk into my house, the first thing I say is, ‘Can I get you a drink?’ ”
Setting the mood
Once food and drinks are set, the rest of the details are just bonus points. No one will begrudge the laundry basket in the corner if the coffee cake has enough crumble on top.
Weidner, though, is big on ambiance if you have the time and inclination.
“I think it’s more about what you smell and what you hear,” she says. “I don’t think it’s about what you see.”
She favors delicate, natural-smelling candles and light, nondescript music, like old jazz.
“The ’90s mix is appropriate for afternoon in the pool with rose,” she says, but that it’s a little much for a morning brunch.
As far as room scents, she recommends spruce oil with lemon or a tomato vine-scented candle. These fragrances will complement the food smells but won’t compete with them. She also recommends fresh greenery, like eucalyptus, around the house.
And she suggests taking advantage of the mild morning weather and spending time outside: “Eat on the patio,” she says, “since it’ll be early and not blasting hot.”
Keeping it moving
It’s easy for brunch to turn into a massive nap, but it doesn’t have to! If your friends are already gathered, keep the fun going by setting up the sprinklers, walking to the tennis courts or binging the latest Netflix series.
Weidner lives in the very walkable Prairie Village, so she suggests loading any kiddos up in a wagon, filling your water bottle with an adult beverage and walking the neighborhood.
“Go to the park, run an errand, get some new plants,” she says. “You get inspired when you drink, you know?”
After that: “Throw the blow-up pool up, switch the playlist to that ’90s mix, and just snack for the afternoon. Dinner is kind of shot at this point,” she says. “You’re going to order a pizza or eat leftovers.”
Farris and her husband host regular game nights, so her answer for post-brunch activities is easy: “Drunk board games are my jam.” She suggests Celebrity (a celeb-focused guessing game) and Bananagrams “because I kick everyone’s ass at it.”
Cooper is less interested in the organized games and more into just kicking it. “I just want to chat and hear everyone’s story,” she says.
She loves playing a question game she calls “Either Or.”
“You ask people which they’d pick, like fall or spring, chicken or fish, Halloween or Christmas,” she says. “It’s always interesting because you get people with a lot of opinions, so it’s a real conversation starter.”
She recently started hosting restaurant brunches for her followers.
“I find when I talk to women, even (those) who may have a totally different life, they can identify with my pain and my joy,” Cooper says. “Female community is vital, to be surrounded by that sisterhood of beautiful, powerful women.”
Her next brunch is July 15. Details can be found at jasminediane.com.
No matter which activity you pick, Weidner points out the most important goal of the afternoon: “Linger,” she says. “You’re not rushing through to get to something.
“You don’t have anywhere to be. There’s an ease to brunch that’s different from other meals. Sit down, refill your coffee or mimosa or Bloody Mary, and just sit and chat and watch.”