A few months ago, I hosted a brunch for all the Brazilian professional organizers who came to Chicago to attend the National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals Conference! It was an absolute treat to have them over, as hosting always is!

It was a wonderful experience to have so many colleagues from Brazil and was my pleasure to host them and get to know them better.

Today, I’m going to list the steps I took to prepare for a gathering of about 20 people. I’ll give you my shopping list, the recipes I used, and a few tips for hosting a brunch of your own!

If you’re worried that hosting an earlier meal will require you getting up insanely early and being exhausted by the time everyone’s arrived, don’t be. By keeping these tips in mind, you can host a laid-back brunch and have enough time to enjoy your guests and the food, too.

How to host a brunch.

Figure out what you can prepare the night before.

My motto always is, “Life can be simpler,” and this absolutely applies to the prep work required for your brunch.

Set out the plates, platters, bowls, and silverware so it’s all ready to go in the morning. If you have kids and they’ll use the space where you’ll serve and have your guests, simply set things aside on a room close by. No more frantic, last-minute loads in the dishwasher while the food gets cold!

What to serve when hosting a brunch
Serving a mix of warm dishes and cold salads makes your life simpler.

The same goes to dishes like salads and desserts that can be prepped and be ready to serve the day of your brunch.

In my case, I served chicken and tuna salads, for example, and I had them ready to serve and then stored them overnight in the fridge.

What to serve when hosting a brunch

If you’re using flowers or greenery to decorate the space or table you’ll serve the food, have the vase and arrangement ready to use the day before as well.

Prepare your flower arrangements the night before.
Prepare your flower arrangements the night before.

The goal is to have as much prepared ahead of time as possible, so on the hours before your guests arrive, all you have to do is to get things in place and make yourself pretty.

What to serve when hosting a brunch

Be creative with your presentation!

Want a simple way to wow your guests and make your serving table beautiful? Mix up the serving containers.

You can buy fun disposable options that match your theme or use what you already have at home which is what I always do.

Pull out the tartlet tins for the fruit, or skewers for the donuts holes! Even the simplest fare can seem extra fancy if it’s served in a nice dish, so swap out those orange juice cartons and syrup bottles for pitchers and small ice cream bowls.

How to organize to host a brunch.
How to host a brunch!
Tips on how to organize, what to serve and a shopping list for a fabulous brunch with friends.

Since I always use the same serving platters and cake stands, another way to make my table colorful and look “fresh” is by using beautiful and colorful napkins.

I have 4 sets – one for each season – and I use them together with the dishes and a basket with the silverware to make it very easy for guests to serve themselves.

Setting a table for a brunch.
Have your dishes, silverware, and napkins ready to roll!

You can swap the silverware caddy for fun Ball jars or even tin buckets. Have fun with it!

Don’t be afraid to delegate.

Is one of your guests known for her to-die-for cinnamon rolls? Ask if she could bring some! Keeping an eye on the oven? Ask a guest to take over on coffee duty while you pull the last dish from the oven and add it to the table.

On the day of our brunch, I accepted help from a friend to walk Tuff and from another to get the dishes rinsed. It was perfect, helpful and my friends were so happy to help.

How to host a brunch
Accept help from your friends.

Choose dishes for a crowd.

Instead of choosing a dish you have to make in small batches, like eggs or pancakes, opt for something you can cook–or better, reheat–in the oven in the morning. If bacon is a must-have, pop it in the oven, too. There are tons of easy brunch dishes you could choose from, or you could keep it fresh with an easy self-serve parfait bar!

What to serve on a brunch
Select dishes that are easy to prep and serve.

If kids are invited, be sure to serve kid-friendly food or even cereal if you know they would do better with a food they’re used to.

An easy option is to prepare sandwiches and wrap them in parchment paper or a brown bag.

You can make the wrapping even prettier by using baker’s twine. I love the look!

Finally, consider your vegetarian guests by offering them options so they can have a full meal with the green salad you’ll serve.

How to host a brunch.


Here’s what I prepared for a group of twenty:

  1. Chicken curry salad
  2. Tuna salad
  3. Cakes and pie
  4. Bagels
  5. Quiches, savory
  6. White bread, sliced
  7. Cold cuts and cheese board
  8. Pastries and home-baked cookies
  9. Mixed greens salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  10. A bowl of mixed berries served with mascarpone cheese (recipe below)
    • 2 large containers (Costco size) of strawberries
    • 1 large container of blueberries
    • 1 large container of blackberries
    • 1 large container of raspberries
  11. Mascarpone cheese cream. Here is the recipe:
    • One large mascarpone cheese container
    • Half of that container with heavy whipping cream and
    • Half of that container with confectioner sugar.
    • Mix everything gently together with a blender or a spatula. You wanted to be creamy and easy to scoop but not fluid.
    • Serve it on a container next to the fruit bowl or to make it extra beautiful serve it on a clear container creating layers of mascarpone cheese and berries.
  12. Beverages: coffee, tea, prosecco, lemonade and orange juice

How to host a brunch

Here’s the shopping list I used to get everything needed for those meals:

  • two large containers of chicken curry salad
  • two large containers of tuna salad
  • three small cakes of different flavors like vanilla, chocolate and fruit tart
  • 12 bagels – plain, everything bagel, asiago cheese etc.
  • 12 mini quiches of different flavors
  • one small loaf of white bread sliced
  • several kinds of cheese – brie, gorgonzola, and cheddar, for example
  • meat cuts like ham, salami, and prosciutto
  • olives – green, black, stuffed
  • salted almonds or mixed nuts
  • grapes
  • pastries like bear claws, chocolate croissant, mini scones, and home baked cookies
  • two large containers of mixed greens salad
  • two jars of vinaigrette dressing
  • 2 large containers (think Costco size) of strawberries
  • 1 large container of blueberries
  • 1 large container of blackberries
  • 1 large container of raspberries
  • 1 large container of Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 bottle of prosecco
  • 1 bottle of lemonade
  • 1 bottle of orange juice

I hope these tips help to simplify hosting a brunch! Having friends over for food and drinks is one of my favorite things, and I love keeping the morning simple and stress-free. Happy Brunching!

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