Happy Friday everyone! I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things about the weekend is brunch. I love starting late in the day – noon or 1 is perfect – spending the afternoon hanging out, eating and drinking coffee or bubbly, and then still having your evening free. But going out to brunch in NYC is kind of an ordeal. Nothing about the idea of waiting in line for an hour sounds appealing to me – not to mention paying $18 for an omelette, $5 for a cup of French press coffee, and $12 for a mimosa! Which is why I love hosting brunch at my apartment. It's more relaxed, less expensive, more kid-friendly, AND you can actually have real conversations with people rather than shouting over loud music.

A few weeks ago, I had over a bunch of friends for a brunch (that we happened to be shooting for the cookbook). It took place just two days after the ABC dinner, so I was pretty beat. Given my limited time and energy, I was determined to keep things really simple. In fact, by the time I finished cleaning up my apartment, the food and the table decor were literally afterthoughts! But the afternoon could not have been more fun. We had 11 at the table for brunch, and later three more friends stopped by and stayed for dinner, and it made me want to do this every weekend. But I realize that I'm slightly crazy – most people get intidated to have six people in their home for a meal, much less 14!

So with that in mind, I want to share with you all some simple tips to throwing a stress-free brunch. If you follow these simple rules, I PROMISE you can host your own brunch, keep your sanity, and actually have a blast in the process. With no further ado...


The yellow table, set for brunch; Parker Mae, the world's cutest baby!!


1) Don't try and do everything. If you're hosting, you're already having to clean your place, set the table, and at least buy some of the food. Let other people help out in other ways!! If you have a friend who loves to do flowers (or even better has a garden), let them bring the flowers. Tell everyone to bring a bottle of sparkling wine, or some OJ or coffee. Let people help out by bringing a dish, or picking up croissants or fruit.

2) Make some sort of main course and keep the rest of the food extremely simple. I also try to have something savory, something sweet, some sort of fruit, and some sort of salad. For this brunch, I decided to make a couple of crustless quiches for the main course and kept everything else super-easy: I bought some croissants, tossed together an arugula salad (with apples and watermelon radishes), and put out a bowl of berries. I also made a strawberry-rhubarb compote to go with the croissants, which took about 10 minutes to make and was a nice homemade touch.


Mixed berries are a simple brunch addition; making a crustless quiche saves time and is perfect for GF guests.

3) Make a fresh-squeezed mimosa bar. This is SO easy and is a really nice touch. Before guests arrive, squeeze some oranges (I love Cara Cara or blood oranges) and/or grapefruit juice, pour into pretty little pitchers, and set out beside chilled bottles of bubbly. People can just make their own mimosas, which leaves you free to finish the food or talk to everyone as they arrive. And have at least a little something to nibble on when guests arrive, even if it's just some olives or nuts or crostini.

4) Make a bunch of little flower arragements from one bigger bunch of flowers. I was lucky to have my friend Jenn's help with flowers - she just bought a few bunches of lilac, cut them into smaller bundles (which she tied with butchers' twine) and stuck them in some little pitchers and vases I had. Then she tucked a few sprigs in bud vases. This is such a simple, affordable way to create pretty flower arrangements on the table! The key is to keep things low so people can still see each other over the flowers.


Jenn Elliott Blake's lovely table styling – napkins from the Brooklyn Flea, twine-tied utensils, and simple lilac bouquets – can be easily recreated at home.

5) Keep your place settings simple, but with a creative twist. I love the way that Jenn laid a napkin on the plates, set the fork and spoon on top, and tied them together with twine. So pretty, and took no time at all to set!

6) Remember: you're not Martha Stewart. And nobody expects you to be!! People are coming over to see YOU. And they'd rather see a relaxed you, with a slightly messy house, than a totally stressed-out you striving for perfection. Make sure you set realistic enough expectations on yourself that you can actually enjoy the party. Which leads me to #7...

7) Have FUN!! Get as much done in advance so you can actually be present to enjoy your own party. And say yes when people offer to help with dishes later.


Now it's your turn to host! To make it easy, here are a few of my favorite brunch recipses from the blog...just pick one or two things and let your friends bring the rest.

*Heirloom Tomato Breakfast Casserole

*Mini Frittatas with Goat Cheese and Spinach

*Orange-Zest Scones with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

*Sour Cream Banana Walnut Muffins

*Arugula Salad with Radicchio and Fennel

*Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Watermelon Radishes and Apples

(Photos by Signe Birck; styling by Jenn Elliott Blake.)