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I married into a family that truly loves to celebrate. With a big family (6 kids- who all bring their own families), we have a lot to celebrate. About a month ago (okay… maybe it’s been a bit longer now), we had the opportunity to celebrate adding another nephew to the family. Most of us siblings are in town, which makes it easy to get together, but with J & E living 11 hours away… this visit was the first time we met the little man who was born back in April. We decided to throw a brunch to celebrate their family- something we don’t get to do as often as we’d like due to distance.
This brunch had a lot of requirements, but a what’s life without a challenge? We wanted them to feel spoiled & special- but didn’t want to throw a big party (when you only get to see someone a few times a year- you need to be selfish of that time!). We wanted it to feel like a shower but have no schedule so we could spend the time enjoying each other’s company instead of rushing from game to game. We wanted to do a champagne brunch but needed a menu that would be super filling. We wanted to surprise them with the party so it needed to be ready in 20 minutes flat as they were staying with my in-laws where the party would be. Most of all, we wanted the party to truly reflect J & E: sophisticated, simple, lovers of good food, and cultured (E is a French teacher and violinist).
So we needed to design a menu that could fill 15 people’s bellies, be ready in 20 minutes, fancy enough for a ‘champagne brunch’ and simple enough to appeal to all the little ones. We needed to brainstorm some décor that could be thrown together while we were cooking (remember that 20 minutes?) and some shower-y activities that could be done at leisure. This meant planning.
We chose the colour scheme of yellow and orange with a French café theme- let’s face it: mimosas were the true inspiration here (says the pregnant lady who didn’t have any). We wanted some signage to make it clear whom the party was for. We settled on a Chalkboard tabletop welcome and a rustic bebe hand-painted sign. Since every party needs garland- we chose to do a mini paper bunting with matching drink flags, food flags, and tent-cards to mark the food. Wild daisies, and bowls of citrus finished the table- set on a burlap runner. We chose to divide and conquer- each of the sisters taking on a piece of décor to craft before the party.
With only one oven available, we planned to use the BBQ, stovetop, oven, and electric griddle to make sure everything was ready to go at the same time. We split up the food prep and had everything ready for when we arrived (bacon on skewers, pancake batter mixed up, and berries sliced).
What did we serve to fill all those bellies? Mini pancakes with real maple syrup, honey, whip cream, and walnuts; mini smoked salmon cream cheese pancakes (holy smokes amazing- check out the recipe right now kind of good); bacon skewers and turkey sausages; a variety of mini quiches; greek yogurt parfaits with fresh fruit; watermelon; and bagels with a selection of cream cheeses. For drinks we had mimosas, coffee, lemon water, iced chai with milk, a tea station (my new staple for parties), and fruit juices for the kiddies. In other words: a feast.
The family loves riddles, puzzles and friendly competition. I designed a baby themed crossword for us to work on as we were brunching. I love the look of crosswords and they happen shine with the citrus colour scheme. I also designed some ‘Wishes for Baby’ cards to send J & E home with. I love reading all the witty and heartwarming thoughts that came out of this.
I have to be honest, I’m a bit of a control-freak. Throwing parties as often as I do, I’ve learned I need to let go of that control every once in a while. The bacon skewers aren’t going to look the way I have pictured when you ask someone else to put them together… nor are you going to get the exact type of container for juice that you think would look best with the décor- but! Unless you’re prepared to spend the moola and do everything yourself, a team effort is the best approach. Plus, planning with family and friends is way more fun than sitting alone on Pinterest, crafting and mixing up pancake batter just to say you did it all by yourself. We had a lovely morning feasting and visiting and no one minded eating slightly overdone pancakes off paper plates because it meant that we could toss them and continue spending time together- not in the kitchen doing dishes.
What are some things you’ve learned as you celebrate with friends and family? In the end what is the most important thing as you continue to party plan?