My family and I hosted a 65 guest brunch last weekend to celebrate a religious anniversary in honor of my 82 year old grandmother, Marta. The event was held on a roof top in Brooklyn. It boasts amazing views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Skyline. It was a gorgeous day and the event went very well despite a few setbacks early on.
When I organize events with or for my family, they are always more stressful, more emotional, more personal. This was no exception. Although every detail was planned and timed out, one cannot ever prepare for everything. So, I wasn't prepared to get locked out of my car at 7:30am with the keys in the ignition and the car turned on. Nor was I prepared to arrive in Brooklyn and be faced with several detours because the Brooklyn Bridge was closed, making it very difficult to arrive to my destination. And I definitely was not prepared to get smoked out of the venue for 30 minutes during our set-up window because the oven was left dirty by the party before us, causing the entire room to fill with smoke. The smoke triggered the fire alarm and since it is a commercial space, the fire department had to come and inspect the space. We were evacuated and this, of course, caused delays.
Once we finally were able to set up, everything happened very quickly and we all went to work...tables were set, decorations were placed, food was brought in, and guests arrived. Here is what it all looked like and how it all came together.
Much work goes into all events, even a brunch. Here's a bit about the planning process of this event and some tips on how to make your next brunch a success.
Invitations went out four weeks prior to the event using Paperless Post. They were elegant and beautiful. I love being able to use online, paperless invitations for less formal events. They help me stay organized and communicate with my guests in an easy way. It is environmentally friendly. And less expensive. Win, win.
I love using flowers for decorations. But buying ready made floral centerpieces for 9 tables was going to be way over my budget. I decided to make them myself. I began by using large mason jars as vases. I purchased them at Michael's for about $3 each. I ordered the flowers from globalrose.com. I paid $151 for 100 Roses and 100 Alstroemeria. Shipping was free. I was really nervous about creating my own centerpieces. But, it was much easier then I had anticipated. (More on how to make them in another post. For now, this is how they turned out.) I received my flowers on Friday. I prepared my vases on Saturday. And the event was on Sunday. By then the flowers had opened and they were perfect to display.
There were many people that helped make this event possible. So, I designated each arrangement to a specific guest by wrapping a note with their names and message on each bouquet. Not only did they serve as lovely centerpieces but they were also a very nice way to say, Thank You!
My venue offered us round tables that were in good condition but needed to be covered. Since my space had a lot of dark wood, I wanted linens that would brighten up my space. I decided to purchase ivory colored tablecloths instead of renting them since they would end up costing me about the same thing. I also bought the matching napkins. All together, for 9 tables I spent $200 on linens. Here's what I found on Amazon.
Our brunch menu was simple and elegant. We had an assortment of baked goods, baked challah french toast with fresh berries and real maple syrup, a choice of three different fritatas, and baked breakfast potatoes with onions and peppers. Our caterer was Thomas Joseph Catering. They did a fabulous job on the hot food. The meal arrived hot and it was delicious.
We ordered our baked goods directly from a distributor, Gotham Bagels & Pastries. (Contact Adam at 718-581-4003) They were fresh and soft. Baskets were filled and left at each table so that guests could enjoy them as they waited for brunch to be served.
I printed the menus myself using ivory colored card stock. Staples cut my paper to the desired size using a high quality cutter. I folded my napkins around my menu and left them at each place setting.
I am very excited about the beverage we served. It's difficult to find non-alcoholic brunch beverages that aren't full of sugar and food coloring. So here's what I did:
Sparkling Citrus Cider
6 cups of orange juice
2 bottles of sparkling cider
3 oranges- cut into 12 slices about 1/4 inch thick
The night before the party, cut up your oranges into slices. You will want at least one per glass. Freeze the slices over night. These will make beautiful garnish and will cool off your drink so that you don't water it down with ice.
Mix the juice and the cider in a large punch bowl or a pitcher. Places slices into your glass. Pour mixture right over your orange slices....and voila!
We used a chalkboard to direct guests to their tables. My friend Michelle has such neat hand writing. It was the perfect job for her.
Thank you favors are such a nice way to express your gratitude to your guests. So, even if your event is small, it is always a polite gesture. We gave each guest an assortment of Russian chocolates in a small paper bag with a thank you sticker printed on the outside.
We had four performances for the guests and the guest-of-honor. My brother-in-law dedicated a Beatles song to my grandmother to start us off. He sang and played his guitar. It was lovely. Three young girls danced a choreographed Bollywood number. They had so much energy and spunk. A little boy that my grandmother adores played a quick little piano piece. And finally my two lovely cousins sang an amazing duet that brought most of the room to tears.
We also prepared a photo montage of family and friends. It was set to music. It was the perfect way to end the brunch. Guests left happy and full.
I must give a very special thank you to the hard working members of my family and my friend who helped with all the set up. So, thank you Darla, Gregg , Allison, Ana, Esther and Michelle for handling the madness of party planning. It was a beautiful day and everything came together so wonderfully.
Thank you!!!! And Congratulations Pepita!!!!
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