How to Throw a Fun & Casual Brunch Party!
Looking for a unique way to hang out with your friends and family? Throw a brunch party! Not only are brunch parties great for holidays, birthdays, engagement parties, and weekend get-togethers, but they’re also just a good excuse to have everyone over. These are all of my favorite tips on how to throw a brunch party that is fun, relaxing, casual, and (actually) stress-free!
This past weekend, we had a few of our friends over for a little brunch party and it was simply the best! My favorite thing about brunch parties is that you don’t have to worry about setting out candles or burning coq au vin or wearing heels. You can just pop on a house dress, pour a cup of coffee, and lounge around on the couch with your friends. Plus, it’s brunch so nobody cares if you have them over at 10am or 2pm. Brunch encompasses all times and universes. Even better, you can party a little during the day and still have plenty of time to binge-watch Bridgerton later in the night. What’s not to love?
But, I know that having people over can be a little overwhelming at times. So, I’m going to share all of my little tips and tricks for how to throw a fun, casual brunch party that is truly stress-free. We’re not getting too fancy here, it’s just for good times! I mean, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fancier brunch party (these tips will still apply) but really, you can just lounge around and have a nice time with your friends or family.
Table of contents
- How to plan & budget for a brunch party
- The guest list + invites
– For a holiday, birthday, or other life event
– For a casual hang
- The best days & times
- The food menu
– A make ahead-dish
– Something that can be served at room-temp
– A fresh option
– Pick up something store-bought
- Don’t forget the drinks!
- A recommended timeline
- Setting the table the night before
- How to put together a pancake board
- Planning for food restrictions
- If you’re having a birthday, shower, or holiday
- Theme ideas
- The playlist
- Parting tips on throwing the best brunch party
How to plan & budget for a brunch party
- The guest list – the first step is to determine how many people you want to invite. (Or, how many you can fit in your dining room or living room).
- Budgeting – next, make a realistic budget. Remember, brunch parties don’t have to be crazy expensive! I threw this get-together for 12 people and about $100, including alcohol. To make it more affordable, you can always cut out the alcohol and make the get list smaller. Or, think of dishes that require less expensive ingredients like egg casseroles, seasonal fruit, and homemade muffins. Get creative!
- Make your menu – and determine how much alcohol you need. This will help you stick to your budget.
- Pick a theme – if you want one. I usually don’t have a theme but they can be really fun!
- Send out the invites – don’t forget to ask if anyone in your group has food allergies or restrictions.
The guest list + invites
While you can invite as many or as little people as you want, I find the sweet spot for a brunch party to be between 6-12 people. Of course, if you’re having a big get-together for a holiday or birthday, you may end up with more. Or, you can have a smaller hang with just a few friends. Either way, a little brunch party is a great way to get everyone together.
When it comes to invites, you have some options. The invites really depends on your theme, guest list, and why you’re hosting the event.
For a holiday, birthday, or other life event
Ttry to send out invites at least 2-4 weeks in advance. This will give your friends and family plenty of time to make arrangements and get you an RSVP. You can send paper invites, but I usually find digital invites do the trick. You can do a Facebook invite if you’re old school or try something like Paperless Post! With digital invites, you usually have the option to send invites via email or text.
For a casual hang
I usually just send a text message. You can also do a Facebook event or digital invite if you want to keep track of RSVPs. Try to give your friends at least a week’s notice but honestly, who’s going to say no to an impromptu brunch?
The best days & times
Typically, it’s best to have everyone over for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate weekends off. I personally prefer Saturdays to kick off the weekend and leave plenty of down-time on Sunday. But, Sunday is a great day to have everyone over as well!
The best part of brunch is that it honestly can be any time of the day. 10am? Sure! 4pm? Why not? I typically have everyone come over around 11am to give myself plenty of time in the morning to prepare any last-minute menu items.
If you’re wondering how long a brunch party needs to last, you’re going to need at least 2-3 hours to give everyone time to mingle, eat, and drink. But of course, if you want to sit around sipping mimosas with your friends all day, live your life!
The food menu
Let’s discuss the most important part of a casual brunch party, the menu. You want to make sure that you’re keeping it simple enough that you aren’t going to have to wake up at 6am to start cooking but delicious and carb-y enough to soak up all the champagne. Here’s my simple formula for a brunch party menu!
A make-ahead dish
I usually make my go-to roasted veggie breakfast casserole. It’s flavorful, can be made the night before, and it’s a huge crowd-pleaser! Plus, you can change up the ingredients depending on what’s in-season or even add bacon or breakfast sausage if you’re feeding meat-lovers. If you want to go with a sweet option, try a French toast casserole instead! You could also do a breakfast hash, frittata or quiche if you’d like. Just make sure whatever you pick can be assembled the night before and baked the morning of!
Something that can be served at room-temp
My favorite option is a pancake board! I just make my poppy seed pancakes the night before, let them cool, and store them layered between parchment paper in an airtight container in the fridge overnight. Then, the next morning, all I have to do is let them come to room temperature and arrange them on a board with fresh fruit and syrup. You could also add nut butters, Nutella, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, nuts, etc.!
Of course, you don’t have to use pancakes. You could also offer waffles, Norwegian pancakes, or crepes. You can also do a breakfast BLT buffet or a bagel and cream cheese board for a savory option. As long as it can be served at room-temperature, it’ll work! Also, if you don’t want to make your own pancakes, I’ve heard TJ’s Belgian waffles are amazing!
A fresh option
Make sure to offer something fresh like fresh fruit or veggies! I like add a bunch of fresh fruit to the pancake board plus a bowl of grapes. You can also opt for breakfast salad, roasted peaches, or roasted potatoes and vegetables.
Pick up something store-bought
Lastly, make your life easier and just get a store-bought baked good. I like to use the pretzel board my brother made for our wedding and cover it with donuts or bagels! You could also just offer a plate of muffins, scones, or pastries from your favorite local bakery. These can just be snack-y things that your guests can munch on throughout the day! If you are an over-achiever and want to do something homemade, try some muffins, apple cider donuts, or chocolate chip scones.
D0n’t forget the drinks!
Now let’s talk about the fun part – drinks! Here are some fun options to offer at your party:
- Coffee – it’s not a brunch party without coffee. Offer a simple pot of hot coffee or set up a bar with different creamers and syrups. You could also make the coffee Irish or serve up some cold brew if it’s hot out!
- Tea – if you have friends who are fans of tea, it’s always nice to set out some tea options and a hot water kettle. Tea hot toddies are fun too!
- Mimosas – I like to set out a few bottles of champagne with a variety of juices and fruit. My favorite juice is pineapple but you also should have some classic OJ on hand. I typically buy 3-4 bottles of champagne for 10-12 people. Usually there are leftovers, but I like to be prepared!
- Beer-mosas – surprisingly, this is always the most popular option when I throw a brunch party! You can just mix equal parts of beer and orange juice for a refreshing drink. I usually buy a 12-pack of a light lager because I don’t mind having beer leftover.
- Mulled wine – in the fall and winter months, Norwegian glogg can be a really fun option!
- Mocktails – if you want to keep the party booze-free, it’s always fun to set out a variety of teas, juices, and coffee. But, to make it a little more fun, you can always serve up a mocktail!
A recommended timeline
This is the cooking schedule I follow to make cooking for a brunch party completely stress-free. Just make sure you have a few hours the night before to get everything prepared!
|2 days before
|– Go grocery shopping.
– Decide what serve-ware you need for the party.
|1 day before
|– Assemble the breakfast casserole and store it in the fridge overnight.
– Make the pancakes (or other breakfast item for your breakfast board).
– Cut up fruits and veggies and place them in airtight containers in the fridge.
– Pour the mimosa juice in bottles, if desired.
– Set your serving table and dining table.
|The morning of the party
|– Pick up donuts (or baked good of choice) from you local bakery and place them on a donut wall, big plate, or a platter.
– An hour before your guests arrive, bake the casserole.
– While the casserole bakes, assemble the breakfast board.
– Right before your guests show up, set out the mimosa/beer-mosa ingredients and make the coffee. Place all of the food items on the serving table. Then, just have fun!
Setting the table the night before
I know it seems silly but I swear this is one of the most important tips! For pretty much any food-related event, I always recommend setting the table the night before. At some point in the night, you’re going to think, “It’s fine, I’ll just get up and do it in the morning”. This is a lie and we both know it. Save you from yourself. Do it the night before.
Trust me, it doesn’t have to be super fancy. Just set out a table cloth if you’re using one. Pick out your serve-ware and set it on the table to “map out” where all of the food will go. If you’re doing a buffet, set the plates, silverware, and napkins on the table. If you’re doing sit-down, place everything you need including decorations and water glasses. Then, if something goes awry, and you realize that all of your forks are sitting dirty in the dishwasher or you accidentally broke 40% of your wine glasses, you have time to fix it!
How to put together the pancake board
Breakfast charcuterie is definitely a thing right now and I totally get it. It’s a cute, fun, simple way to serve a bunch of people and takes a lot of stress out of the situation. It’s impressive without any of the work. I’m here for it! Of course, you don’t have to do a pancake board, it could also be waffles, muffins, donuts, bagels, or just an assortment of snack-y breakfast items. Here’s how I made mine:
- Let your pancakes (or other item) come to room-temperature. They don’t have to be warm unless you’re really passionate about it. You can always keep them warm in a 170° oven while you assemble the rest of the board. But, my guests had no problem with room-temp pancakes! (Side note: I did offer the microwave to those who wanted to heat their pancakes up and no one did. They were delicious!)
- Grab a large wood charcuterie board or cutting board. Mine is 18×24! Make sure all of your fruit is cut up and any other items (like yogurt, nut butters, syrup, etc.) are placed in containers.
- Assemble the pancakes on the board in an offset stack. I like to go in “wavy” motions to leave lots of space for the add-ons.
- Now fill in the gaps. Start with bigger items, like syrup containers, orange slices, and bunches of grapes. Then, fill in the rest of the board with smaller items like raspberries, nuts, and chocolate chips.
- If you really want to keep the pancakes warm, add all of the other items like fruit, syrup, and yogurt first. Leave a space for the pancakes. Then, when you’re ready to serve, add the warm pancakes to the board and enjoy!
Planning for food restrictions
Basically everyone in my life has some kind of food restriction, so I’m an expert at working around them at this point. I always ask my guests if they have restrictions or allergies before I invite them over. Just include it in your text or invitation!
Then, it’s all about making it work with your favorite recipes. Any baked good can be made with one-to-one gluten-free flour for a wheat allergy. Replace whole milk with oat milk for those who are lactose-intolerant. And on and on. When it doubt, I like to avoid any big allergens like nuts but usually, I confirm with everyone before I plan the menu!
If you’re having a birthday, shower, or holiday
While the menu above is definitely my go-to for a simple brunch party, keep in mind that you can totally switch things up depending on what you’re celebrating! For birthdays, it could be fun to do a little donut cake. If you’re throwing a bridal shower or baby shower, you might want to include some games or favors. If you’re hosting a party for a holiday, make sure to leave time for Easter egg hunts or opening presents. All of these same tips apply, just make sure you’re accounting for any extra activities and recipes!
Do you need a theme? No. Does it sometimes make a party even more fun? Totally! If I’m just having friends over, I like to skip the theme and just enjoy everyone’s company. But, if I’m throwing it for a holiday or birthday, it can be a good time to add a theme. Plus, if you’re having a lot of people over, it can even help you save time and money by refining your food and drink menu! Here are some of my favorites brunch party theme ideas:
- Donut or bagels – if you want to keep things 100% stress-free, just set out a variety of donuts or bagels, some fruit, and coffee. You can always set them up on a donut wall or platters to add to the theme. Super easy!
- Pajama brunch – honestly, no one wants to put on pants before 11am on a Sunday. Invite everyone over in jammies and keep it casual.
- Garden – if you have a nice outdoor area, take it outside in the warmer months! This is especially fun for showers, because you can send everyone home with a little packet of seeds or potted plant.
- Bubbles – make the drinks the main event and offer a big mimosa bar or a variety of fun brunch cocktails!
- Movie morning – this is my favorite for winter holidays! Cozy up and eat while watching your favorite movies.
I always recommend having some music going on in the background. Go for something relaxing and light, like a mix of indie artists or soft jazz. Some of my favorite Spotify playlists for brunch are Essential Indie, Morning Acoustic, Soft 60’s, and Jazz in the Background. You can also pick the music to go along with your theme or the vibe of the party. Go for whatever genre is going to fit the mood!
Parting tips on throwing the best brunch party
TL;DR? These are all my last tips and tricks for putting on your own brunch party!
- Make the food in advance – the more you can the better! I highly recommend planning your menu around dishes that can be made the night before.
- Go buffet-style – it’s easier, less stressful, and gives your guests the freedom to pick and snack as they please.
- Set up the night before – setting the table, hanging up decorations, picking out any platters and cake stands. It’ll save a lot of time in the morning!
- Keep the food warm – place everything in a low oven (170-200°F) to keep everything warm until your guests arrive.
- Don’t worry about making everything fancy – in the end, it’s just brunch so don’t sweat the small stuff. Let your guests (and you) mingle, relax, and enjoy the weekend!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: Cooking Up Something Good by Mac DeMarco