For Easter weekend, I had the pleasure of hosting a boho chic Spring brunch on my back patio, surrounded by some of the people I love. Hosting parties is one of my absolute favorite things to do. There is something so wonderful about being able to create something physically beautiful and also creating memories and beautiful moments with friends and family. Though my attention to detail may sometimes seem over-the-top, I truly enjoy every minute of it and know that you can host a beautiful gathering yourself!
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The weather here in Denver has been crazy, as it always is in the Spring. The week leading up to my weekend brunch it was SNOWING. And I am not going to lie, some panic set in. There is just no way I could host 14 people in my little bungalow. The plan to have it outside on the patio where we have plenty of room to seat everyone, was really our only option. Well as luck and a little prayer had it, the weather was just perfect the day of the brunch. I couldn’t have asked for a better day!
As a whole, a party like this may seem intimidating, but all it takes is careful planning and staying organized, and I promise anyone can do this! Whenever I decide I am throwing a get-together, I get straight to work with several lists. One list for who to invite, a list for theme ideas and a menu. Then as it gets closer to the event, I make several more lists. What I need to buy, exactly what ingredients I will need for the food, who has RSVP yes or no and then a final list of day-before and day-of to-do’s. Out of all the lists, these last two are the most important for me. You may be thinking “whoa lady, take it easy with the lists” but I promise it can help you stay on track and not get overwhelmed!
I will get back to my lists here in a few, but first I want to share with you the menu. Since this was just a brunch, the food was the most important part!
I opted for easy dishes I could either make-ahead or quickly whip-up the morning of.
On the buffet menu:
- Pre-sliced crock-pot honey ham (I put this in the crock pot early the morning of. It was already precooked so I just needed to heat this up)
- Spinach, strawberry and feta salad
- My mom’s raspberry almond mini muffins (I make these EVERY Easter as it was a tradition to make these with my Mom when I was growing up)
- Overnight french toast bake
- Make-ahead breakfast casserole (I just pop this in the oven the morning of)
- Microwave Zucchini Fritatta (I usually put ham in this dish but wanted a vegetarian option so left it out)
- Fresh fruit salad – strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries, cantaloupe, raspberries (I always buy my berries and pineapple from Costco, it can save you a bunch of money when you need a large amount)
- Immaculate desserts from Ruby Jean Patisserie – French macarons and the most moist and delicious cake I think I have ever had!
- Peach Tea
- A mimosa bar
- Deviled eggs
- Chicken and waffles – I heated up a tray of popcorn chicken and toasted mini blueberry waffles to make bite-sized chicken and waffles
The table settings
People are always amazed at what I find at thrift stores. It wasn’t until a guest of mine was asking where I got each piece of serverware and the china plates that I realized I had gotten almost my entire display of dishes and trays from thrift stores! Why buy something new when you can go hunting for a beautiful antique piece that is both functional and a great conversation starter! I found a china set at a local thrift store for only $20. It came with dinner plates, dessert plates, tea cups, serving bowls and a creamer/sugar bowl set. I fell in love with delicate floral print and the light blue and blush color scheme. A week later I found a set that had a similar color palette at the same store! It also came with an entire set! Only $20! So for $40 I got two full beautiful sets of china that I know I will be getting much use out of over the years. If you don’t want to spend the extra money on more plates, using disposable can still be elegant! Try those clear plates that look a little more upscale.
I am a crafter that tends to hold on to really random items and shove them away for a future project in my craft room. To some, it probably looks like chaos, but I don’t know how many times I have used bits and pieces of random fabric or ribbon or wood that were leftovers from old projects! It really can save you money if you can use what you already have. I had several pieces of faux greenery that I stuck under each place, in place of a charger. (Buying 14 chargers was not going to be cheap!).
These white cloth napkins are very affordable and instantly update a table setting. If you don’t have time to order some off Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond has the best prices I have seen so far! I loosely tied a simple piece of twine around each napkin and slid a white tulip through. Each guest was able to take home their tulip as a party favor.
The water glasses are from IKEA because they were the cheapest I could find and I know I will be able to reuse these again and again. The pink champagne glasses were a real lucky find at a thrift store. I got 19 glasses for $9!! I literally did a happy dance when I saw these babies.
The 12 ft long table was actually just two 6 ft long folding tables pushed together. Instead of spending money on a nice tablecloth, I went to Lowes and picked up a linen drop cloth. We will be able to reuse this for multiple projects ! (That is also what we use for our privacy curtains around the pergola)
I rented these turquoise folding chairs from a gal I found on Craigslist. It was $1.50 a chair so for $21 I was able to sit everyone comfortably.
Because these folding tables are rather narrow, there was not much room for centerpieces. I went with two pitchers and a tea pot (thrifted) filled with fresh flowers from my local Safeway. Everyone was gushing about the floral arrangements and were truly impressed and surprised that they came from a grocery store! The floral selection at Safeway is quite large and I had a hard time trying to decide which kind of flowers I wanted! I brought them my vases a few days before my brunch and the day before I was able to pick them up. My entire experience with the Safeway floral department was really just amazing. They were so helpful, answered all my questions and delivered exactly what I had envisioned ! I added in some (you guessed it, thrifted) brass candle sticks to fill the space and called it a day. It was simple but really just perfect for the space. I bought the white candlesticks from IKEA.
The flatware is from Target and quite affordable at just $10 each box (serves 4 per box). I already had two sets so I only needed two more boxes for the brunch.
Decorating the buffet table
Normally I would have just left the wood bare on our 12 ft long buffet table. However, my amazing boyfriend added on another piece of wood to make it wider a week before the brunch. Before, people would have to step into the mulch below to lean and reach for the food. Now it is the perfect width. But that meant that our stained and weathered table no longer matched the new piece of wood in the back! Instead of spending big bucks on a very long table runner, I went to Joann’s Fabric and picked out a heavy linen fabric that was on clearance. It is too heavy to blow away and I love the neutral color of it.
To add some interest I draped a scrap of lace I had laying around under the mimosa bar. I used a wood crate to place the peach tea dispenser on. (This makes it much easier to pour and adds some height to the table).
I brought out a few plants from my living room to add more natural texture to the table. You just cannot go wrong with fresh plants and flowers!
The mimosa bar
What is brunch without mimosas?! Making a little DIY mimosa bar is crazy-simple and gives a lot of wow factor from guests. People love any kind of bar, whether its bloody marys, hot cocoa, s’mores… anything that people can personalize to their own liking is usually a hit. I served three juices but you can surely have a larger variety. I used these very affordable glass carafes from IKEA. I like that they have the cork tops so bugs can’t fly into the juices during outdoor gatherings. I made simple juice labels that you can print for yourself here. I cut them out and then used a couple pieces of double-sided tape to attach them to the carafes.
I found this galvanized metal tub at Michaels and filled it with ice and bottles of champagne. I even had a sparkling apple cider in there for the kids.
Fresh fruit to garnish mimosas is the best part! I put fresh strawberries, blueberries and blackberries in small glass bowls. The chalkboard sign was a $3 find in the bullseye section of Target but both Michaels and Joann’s has some really adorable chalkboards. Using a chalkboard marker I wrote out simple instructions for the mimosa bar.
The Kids Table
Liam and his best friend Gage had a pretty sweet table all to themselves. With special Easter plates, bright yellow straws, jellybeans in little moss covered baskets and a craft.. the boys stayed busy and happy the whole brunch. I printed off a couple simple Spring coloring pages for placemats that the boys could color after eating. Then I had a simple craft kit from Michael’s Craft Store that the kids actually didn’t get to, but were able to take home for later. Plates// cups // straws
DIY Dreamcatcher Wall Hanging
Most of these supplies I already had, so this project cost very little. But even if I had to buy it all, it would still be quite cost-efficient for such a large piece.
I arranged different size embroidery hoops (I find these thrifting ALL the time) and using hot glue and thin string attached the hoops.
I then started adding some lace, fabric and doilies to some of the hoops, cutting off the excess fabric once it held secure in place.
Next came the different types of t ribbon, trim and yarn to add lots of fluffy texture. I kept it neutral with all whites but you can really customize this any way you like!
Last was glueing on the greenery and flowers. I used both floral wire and hot glue for these. I already had these leftover from other projects but Micheals has their faux flowers almost always on sale.
You can see how I attached all the yarn in my other dreamcatcher DIY post here.
My tips for thrifting :
Always try to go shopping on their half-off days. It can be a mad house and the lines can get long, but you can save an incredible amount of money.
Make sure you stop at the ATM and get cash! Some thrift stores only take cash, and I realized this after I had already stood in line for 20 minutes and I had to leave and come back. I got lucky- my cart was still there!
Never dismiss an item because of the color or stain. Think about if you can spray paint or stain it a different color and it would work for what you need.
Don’t get stuck on one color palette idea. My original idea was to have more greens and no pink at all for my brunch. But once I saw those china plates, I changed my theme and I ended up LOVING it.
Look for trays and platters while thrifting! I get most of mine for under $2 and I use them all year long. Buying new can cost you $20+ a tray!
I have thrown several successful parties in my day, and I have learned a thing or two.
- One tip that I did not do for this brunch, is to get yourself ready FIRST. Often I am running around preparing last minute dishes and decor and I want to wait to get myself ready so my hair and makeup look fresh. But here is the thing: as guests start showing up, often times they are asking how they can help! Whether that is pouring drinks or carrying dishes to the table, people usually want to be doing something right when they get there so they’re not just standing around. What you cannot do? Run to the bathroom and finnish your hair as guests are arriving. I had NO time to finish my hair and makeup and felt frazzled and rushed when my guests arrived. Huge party no-no. So next time, I will definitely getting myself ready first and then those last minute details can always be assigned to guests if they offer.
- If you don’t want to be standing at your bar cart making drinks all night, make an easy-to-follow drink recipe guests can help themselves to. Or a punch that guests can just ladle into their cups. As much as I miss bartending, the last thing I want is to stand there making drinks all night and missing out on the socialization!
- If guests offer to help clean up after the party, let them! For years it made me uncomfrale when people would help me with anything. Now, I welcome it and I try to keep the conversation going in the kitchen with my volunteers. (I had to HAND WASH 28 plates and 28 glasses. Thank goodness my amazing brother-in-law was helping me with dishes duty!)
- If you can, set up some kind of game for your guests to play while others are finishing up eating. My smart boyfriend brought out the frisbees and corn hole and our brunch turned into an all afternoon affair. I was so glad, too, as it came and went so fast! I never want it to end!
- Make a detailed timeline list for the day-of. If you have multiple dishes that need to be warmed up before setting them out, it can get tricky timing it all.
- Give yourself grace. It wasn’t until we had already eaten and were on to cake that I realized I had never lit all those beautiful taper candles ! At first I was disappointed with myself, and then I looked around and saw everyone having fun and smiling and realized it really didn’t matter if the candles were lit or not!
A huge thank you to…
the Safeway Floral Department who provided the stunning fresh floral arrangements.
Ruby Jean Patisserie who made the marvelous four layer cake and french macarons.
And to Olesja Allen Photography for capturing these moments.
I do hope you found some inspiration for your next brunch. (Mother’s Day is just around the corner!)
I know I will look back at these gatherings of friends and loved ones and smile. I am truly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life!
Have a most beautiful day