When life is crazy busy, the thought of hosting a friend gathering may sound like the last thing you want to worry about. It can be much easier to just meet at a restaurant together. But the thing is, there’s not much personal about inviting your friends to gather at a crowded restaurant, to pay far too much for overcooked eggs, and not really have an idea of who cooked your food or what went into it. It can also be hard to find a night where everyone in your friend group is free (especially with a group of college students-trust me). So when my roommates and I were trying to figure out a way to spend time together before everyone scatters for the summer that was cheap, personal, fun, and wouldn’t conflict with any of our commitments (this was 2 weeks before finals, mind you), we decided to do a Saturday brunch.
It turned out to be one of my favorite memories of the semester. We all rolled out of bed, put some Norah Jones on (Sunrise could not be more perfect), and started divying up jobs. We caught up on life while we whisked, chopped, and measured. We talked about our days in the dorms, and (somewhat nervously) discussed our future plans. There was something so family-like about being in the kitchen together on a Saturday morning that made us feel like little kids again, and forget about the stresses of finals, summer internships, and post-college jobs for a little while.
So I wanted to share some tips that made this morning the success that it was. And the wonderful thing is, none of them involve hours in the kitchen, large grocery bills, or the perfect table setting. It’s about everyone playing host, pitching in, and coming as they are.
- Set the expectations right up front- whether you want this to be a dolled-up brunch so you can all instagram your pics, or a “roll out of bed and come” (which – let’s be real – is the best), or if you want to make a themed menu, like Tex-Mex or French food, make sure your friends know what’s going down, because the anticipation is half the fun.
- Don’t just invite your friends to eat brunch, invite them to make brunch. Trust me, the cooking process is just as fun as the eating (which was pretty dang fun- looking at you, almond flour pancakes) AND it takes the pressure off of you to get up at 6 a.m. and have everything done when they arrive.
- Plan a balanced menu- the whole purpose of brunch is to serve as both breakfast and lunch. It hits the best parts of both meals- the carby, sweet, fun foods of breakfast that get us out of bed in the morning, and the substantial, protein-and veggie-packed dishes that stay with you through the rest of your day. When planning what you’re going to make, try and find a good balance of sweet and savory, without going too carb-heavy where everyone just wants to go right back to bed after
- Keep things as simple as possible- this is probably not the time to make the cinnamon rolls from scratch that you’ve always wanted to try. Try and pick recipes that require 45 minutes or less to make, have 10 or less ingredients, and that everyone will enjoy. Bonus points for using one of mine. 🙂
- Have everyone to sign up to bring something- whether you want to put people in charge of specific dishes, or just give them a few ingredients to pick up at the store, make sure you delegate so you’re not stuck with the bill AND all the shopping.
- Communicate the plan- send everyone the recipes/instructions of what needs to be made, so they aren’t stuck standing around in the kitchen asking you what’s next.
- PLAY GOOD MUSIC- This one is pretty obvious but is a game-changer. You have complete control over the mood and tone depending on what music is playing. My go-to is always throwbacks that I know my crew will appreciate, and there’s nothing like reminiscing about simpler times.
- Prep some good conversation topics ahead of time- just pick a few questions that you know will get everyone thinking, reminiscing, and laughing. Try and guide the conversation to meaningful topics, rather than gossiping or just chit-chatting about nothing.
- Say Grace- Thank the Lord for your time together, and say a special prayer for each person in attendance. Chances are, everyone is dealing with something, and this is your chance to make them feel loved and at peace amidst Godly community- which is really what makes for a successful brunch.
Put the most effort into making your friends feel loved and creating a memorable experience. It’s okay if you burn the pancakes, but it’s not okay if you spend all your time stressed. Keep it simple and enjoy the company.