Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Hosting Brunch On A Budget

I never manage to take party photos, but I did want to tell you about our little get together Friday.

The guest list initially topped 30. Should I run to the store for paper plates and napkins, or stay up late baking muffins in case I run out of food?

I prepared a simple menu similar to today's Kitchn feature: spinach strata, quiche, fruit with ginger yogurt dip.

And for the first time ever, I relaxed--inviting guests to bring a favorite bread or pastry to round out the meal.

You know what? Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer is right.

We had a lovelier assortment than I could have ever baked myself, from soda bread to cinnamon rolls to beautiful pastries from Panera.

Here's to letting go of perfection! I love it when embracing "good enough" leads to something even better.

34 comments:

Gina @ Six in the Country said...

Sounds like you had a great time! So sorry I had to decline, because trust me, it would have been much more fun there than at work....but babies gotta eat.

I knew you could pull it off beautifully though!

Leila said...

It's okay to get a little help :)

I think people like contributing if they are able, don't you?

Your table looks beautiful -- you go way beyond "the basics" and add a lovely touch to everything.

Hopefull said...

great reminder - I am sure it was lovely

Emily@remodelingthislife said...

Sounds wonderful. I picture you the most gracious of hostesses.

Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam said...

Oh, what a wonderful time. And so thrilled that you embraced the everyone bring something. I always want to go with something and I am sure everyone feels the same way. :)
I'm hosting our family brunch on Sunday and you can bet everyone is bringing something...hee hee

Miss G said...

Sandy is so right about that but it's hard for me too.

I went to a thrift store and to TJMaxx/Homegoods today and kept seeing blue and white and thinking of you. Kelly

One Woman's Journey said...

So sorry I could not be with you.
Thank you for inviting me. Please let me come and visit sometime again.

Lylah said...

I need to come by more often to see what gentle delights of simplicity you post. Love that blue and yellow! I so love your frugal, creative and inspiring heart.

Empty Nest Full Life said...

Meredith, you are just an inspiration to us all. Everthing looks beautiful and sound like an absolutely wonderful time. Jackie

MommySecrets said...

I LOVE your quote at the end!!!

NorahS said...

Sounds like it was perfect to me!

mama k said...

Sounds lovely. I think too often our perfectionism keeps us from practicing hospitality as much as we should.

angela said...

I love to say, "this is what we are providing, feel free to bring something to go with it." We never tell anyone they have to bring a dish to pass, just let them know they are welcome to do so. Most people do it, but if they don't, no one cares. We host a large picnic at Labor Day and have heard so many comments about how good the food always is. I feel that when you are taking one thing you often take one of your best recipes. When everyone brings their best recipes, it makes for an amazing buffet. Plus no one person works too hard.
I also feel that by doing it this way, a reluctant host, is more likely to invite people over, because she will know, that it's ok to not do everything herself.

Shannon@Idylwild said...

I am so jealous - wish I lived closer! That is a beautiful spread. We'll be hosting a big buffet again this Christmas for the new baby's dedication, so I'll be saving this post for inspiration.

Tanna Clark said...

Everything was absolutely beautiful, you went above and beyond. I probably would have gone with paper plates but for my next get together I will have to step it up a couple of notches. Thanks for the inspiration.

I cannot believe I did not take out my camera. You had some great organizing shots ;)

Anonymous said...

I never mind bringing something but can't bring myself to ask anyone to bring a dish to my home. It somehow feels awkward to me and I never know how to set out what is brought. Did you put the pastries from Panera on a matching plate? What do you do with duplicate dishes or things on plates that totally clash with your tablescape? How do you handle people offering to leave the leftovers with you? Do you accept or wrap them for the guest to take home (if so, how do you graciously refuse?)

See how complicated I make this? I am fine with a potluck picnic or very casual barbeque but a brunch or dinner, not so much, unless maybe someone offers to make a fabulous dessert (but then again I wonder if others then feel like they should have contributed). For me, I just prefer to do everything myself and not dealing with any issues! Just curious how others feel about having guests bring a dish. I also think that tradition in your part of the country plays a part in the "What can I bring?" syndrome. I have lived in several states and now realize that some people probably thought I was rude because I didn't ask that question when invited!!!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Meredith, sounds like a delightful brunch & I'm sure your guests felt welcomed in your home. I love "good enough". That seems to describe how I do things most of the time. :)

Songbirdtiff said...

I love inviting people to bring their favorite food. Especially dessert. You can never have too much dessert!

Michelle Smiles said...

It was lovely as always. And I always think it is fun to see the variety.

Workin' MAMA! said...

Meredith -

Lovely - just lovely! You always have the best ideas!
As I approach my 'entertaining season' - I have to admit that I feel still a bit of the southern 'perfection' bug - have not let go - yet. Can't do potlucks ever, yet.

Even when the thought 'crosses' my mind: I can hear my mama say, 'when you ask people over to your home, do not put obligation on them to make food for 'your' guests -
I want to break away, but her voice is quietly chanting in both ears when I feel the urge -
"Go away mama! Go awayyyyy!" ha ha ha

Thank God for your small steps toward letting go - Just might be the welcome mat I need to get started --- right behind you sister...

latrice
ps. still need your addy for the book thingy --- :)
working mama in the northwest!

Renee said...

I learned this from my good friend. Everyone has a wonderful time. No one minds bringing something.

From you, Merideth, I've learned to use what I have. That is good enough too. I don't need a special fancy menu.

TJ said...

I usually try to bring something with me to a party, whether I was asked to or not. I enjoy contributing, and helping take some of the burden from the hostess.

I'm glad that you had a good time.

Have a wonderful Easter.

Tubo Family said...

So right--letting go of perfection leads to "even better." Whether or not to ask for or even accept guests' dishes is certainly a cultural expectation. When I married into a Filipino family I was at first very uncomfortable with visitors bringing food; I felt it implied what I offered wasn't adequate. But over time I have come to see that it is a sense of sharing, and what could be more hospitable than that. Now with all my entertaining I do much what Angela does: plan a menu that includes main dish and basic sides in quantities adequate to feed everyone and to those who ask "what can I bring" answer "a side dish that you would like to eat with (main dish I am preparing)" or sometimes "your favorite beverage." It does result in too much food but that's ok because another part of Filipino culture is to send everyone home with assorted leftovers. With our mom's group we all just take what we brought unless someone offers their extras around.

Sandy said...

Thank you for the linky-love, friend. I wish I had been at your event ...

Myrnie said...

Brava! Sounds like a fabulous party- I love potlucks.

Ms. Booty Homemaker said...

You are a lovely and gracious hostess, and I always always always appreciate the opportunity to put in, to be a part, to be community rather than just someone who has it all done for her.

I hope you enjoyed yourself, too. I know we all did.

Rebecca said...

Love your napkins :>)

I'm learning more & more how to let-go of perfection and embrace the "good enough". I don't want to be a "Martha" entertainer {as in Mary/Martha in the Bible}, but rather enjoy my guests. It's a journey....

Brigid said...

For me having the option to bring something was great, since I really like to contribute. But it also gave me an out if my cooking skills were lacking that day! Lucky for me, it turned out well.

You are a lovely hostess. Thanks again for including me.

Eve said...

Looks like a lovely brunch-even without pictures of the food!

Jennifer said...

Hi Meredith. I found your blog through my friend Brigid's blog. I'm adding it to my blogroll. I appreciate the inspiration.

bessieviola said...

Love the napkins... looks like you had a gorgeous, relaxed time! That's the best kind of party.

I'm so glad that you stopped by my blog - now I have another (yours) to add to my must-read list!

Amy said...

How fun! I wish I lived closer- I would have so loved to have sat at your table. I am sure it was wonderful!!

Sarah said...

I'm still working on letting go of perfection! Having a newborn sure has helped!!!!

Tricia said...

love your beautiful presentation...I think it adds so much! and I applaud your inviting folks to bring along some bread/muffins. I am much better about this notion than I used to be.