I’m lucky to have a sister for a lot of reasons. As a big sister, I get the special privilege of providing advice and wisdom as she navigates life events, having already experienced them. [I’m sure she really appreciates and loves this particular feature of sisterhood.]
And since I’m the sister who loves nothing more than throwing a good party to celebrate the special moments of my loved ones, she naturally hates being the center of attention and in particular anything that has the word “shower” in it. So after a marriage and a first baby went by with limited parties in her honor, I finally wore her down and convinced her to allow me to host a baby “sprinkle” for her second child. Her only request was that we hosted it in her new home, approximately 4 hours away from mine.
I knew right away it would be brunch.
Baby [and bridal] showers are the perfect occasion to brunch. Brunch food is usually simple to prepare, has lots of make-ahead options, and can be served at room temperature. The food pairs beautifully with celebratory champagne or champagne-based cocktails, even if mom-to-be isn’t partaking. And let’s be honest, everyone loves brunch.
Odds are both the host and the guest of honor are reconnecting with friends and family near and far. These types of parties also tend to have more “activities” involved — at a minimum, you are probably opening gifts. Even more so than a “regular” party, as host or hostess, you don’t want to be tied to the kitchen.
photo by sofiya levchenko via unsplash
The downside of brunch is the start time. Unlike an afternoon event, you have just a few hours the morning of the party for food prep. With that in mind, I cooked up a menu filled with sweet and savory options that were make-ahead friendly. And the long-distance part? When the mom-to-be asked to have the party in her new home, I couldn’t say no. Having only visited once, I was flying a bit blind in terms of her current cooking arsenal and other party planning concerns. I also had just about 24 hours between arrival and showtime. This meant every element of the menu, from ingredients to serving dishes, had to be really well thought out in advance.
- Mimosa Bar – bottles of Prosecco, a selection of fruit juices, and fresh raspberry and lemons for garnish [inspired by this post at sweet phi]
- Mint Iced Tea with Blueberry Garnish
- Coffee and accompaniments
The mimosa bar was a big hit, and a great conversation starter to bring together people from all areas of Kate’s life. There was also a bottle of our favorite sparkling California wine, Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc, for those who prefer their bubbly neat.
The iced tea was inspired by this “blue” idea from country living. I made it super-simple by purchasing brewed iced tea and steeping in with fresh mint leaves for a few hours. I added the inspiration recipe’s blueberries on long skewers, lime wedges, and blue-and-white striped straws to make an equally pretty non-alcoholic option.
photo by wesual click via unsplash
Cooking in someone else’s kitchen adds enough variables to the food preparation process, so tried-and-tested recipes were a must. I’ve made the bread pudding and the pasta salad for dozens of parties, so I knew they’d be both easy and popular. As a bonus, they can be prepared the night before with minimal steps to complete the dish the day of the party. The salmon toasts and caprese bites required no “cooking” and were simple to assemble with store-bought ingredients.
photo by jenn kosar
The french toast casserole was a no-brainer given its huge success at the cookbook club [more about that here] and the make-ahead option. I adapted it slightly for this group, swapping the corn flake topping for chopped pecans and crumbled bacon. I outsourced the official dessert options to Shari’s Berries and The Lollicakes Bakery. Both were delivered on time and fresh without a hitch.
photo by jenn kosar
- Move the mimosa bar and drink station out of the kitchen. We set it up on the counter, which led all guests directly into my sister’s relatively small kitchen and not into the living room as we had hoped. Eventually we did some traffic redirection, but the real solution is to put the drink station in the place you want guests to initially congregate.
- The guest favorite was the french toast casserole by a landslide. My personal favorite was the yogurt parfaits, but I’m biased — lemon curd is one of my favorite things in life. These were both beautiful on the plate and sweetly delicious.
- The smoked salmon was the least popular dish. That’s not a surprise — not everyone finds this brunch favorite appealing. Those that did try it loved it. I would keep it on the menu, just make less.
- The caprese bites were perfect to serve throughout the entire gathering area. Served on toothpicks, they were a perfect single bite. A reminder that guests like options that are neat and easy to eat while standing around with a drink in hand.
- As usual, I had too many dessert options. I just can’t seem to get it through my head that everyone in the world is on a diet. My kids happily ate multiple cake pops, and I happily missed the sugar craze when they left with their grandparents.
photo by jenn kosar
Another party in the books. What’s your favorite baby shower strategy? Any great tips for planning a party long-distance? Share them in the comments below. And don’t forget to follow my always entertaining pinterest board for more party planning ideas.