10 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Mother’s Day Brunch

When you are the Mom of the house, more often than not, you are the cook, the clean-up crew, and the planner. This may not fit for everyone but it certainly is how our life seems to go. In the summer my husband really steps up to the plate at dinner time by proudly using his Weber Summit grill that was a joint Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gift about three years ago. You might wonder, how a grill for my husband is a gift for me as well? Or perhaps, why would you get such a large or fairly expensive grill? Let me tell you, when your husband willingly cooks at least half of the dinners through summer, and takes meticulous care of EVERYTHING he owns, it is a gift. It is the BEST gift. He is a good cook too. Each year he likes to get the updated version of the Weber New Real Grilling Cookbook, and I strongly recommend picking up this book of recipe inspiration! I can’t make a recipe without a good picture to go with it, and this one is full of amazing pictures and simple recipes.

But getting back to the issue at hand: Mother’s Day. If you are the planner and cook in your house, you will want to plan ahead for some simple, and effective ideas that will make your Mother’s Day Brunch enjoyable for all!

Each year we have both my parents and my husband’s over for a Brunch/Lunch and last year, I think we might have knocked it out of the park. Between the food, the timing, and the beautiful day, I’d say everyone left full, relaxed, and pampered.

10 Tips for Hostingthe Perfect.png

  1. Host Early and Keep it Small

We typically have our Moms come around 11 or 12 with plans to eat about an hour after the parents arrive. This timing is so nice because it gives plenty of time to spend the morning with my girls but still be ready before the guests arrive. We don’t extend out beyond the parents (my husband has 3 siblings who all have families themselves, so we limit just to the parents to keep it special for the Moms).

With my in-laws, they have 4 children, so by providing a nice brunch/lunch they still have plenty of time to enjoy the day, and visit their other children. My sister lives out of town, so my parents are pretty flexible to hang out at any point.

2. Flowers are a thoughtful Addition

flowers-white-amaryllises

Last year, I had two matching floral arrangements picked out and scheduled to deliver ahead of time, (and no, my husband did NOT plan ahead and whipped last second flowers out for me… such a man) that doubled as beautiful centerpieces and take-home gifts for our mothers. I love peonies, and took in an inspiration picture to a local florist, who did an amazing job matching the arrangement, but keeping to my specific price range. The flowers had just begun to open, so they lasted for about two weeks after the brunch.

3. Choose Foods that can be Prepared in Advance

11063417_10206987348585142_1434361836617067620_n

I knew I would not want to spend my Mother’s Day preparing food all afternoon. My husband was more than happy to grill, so we chose meat options that allowed him to do just that. I also cut up fruit and prepared the dip the night before, along with the blueberry muffins. Tomato Salad was made first thing in the morning, because it’s delicious after it has time to sit, but too long in the fridge and the tomatoes get weird. My menu last year included:

  • Marinated Chicken, ready to grill
  • Sausages wrapped in bacon, and stuffed with cheese (we did have men there too, after all – learning curve, do NOT grill over direct heat! They WILL BURN)
  • Lemon Blueberry Muffins (easily converted to gluten free with the use of Pamela’s Artisan Blend Flour )
  • Fresh Fruit and Dip
  • Tomato Basil Salad
  • The BEST Ice Cream Cake (recipe to come soon)

4. Bubbly Drinks are a Must

photo-5-42-300x300

With the brunch theme, the Perfect Mimosa was a great pairing for the meal. We of course always have beer for any guys, but The Perfect Mimosa is an excellent drink option whenever you have ladies who might not always be inclined to drink. The combination of a champagne of your choosing, (we aren’t super classy so we go for the sweet and cheap kind!) and raspberry or orange sherbet in lieu of juice makes a beautiful and delicious drink!

I did a quick scour of the Mom Blogger’s out there and found a similar recipe on The Cookie Rookie’s Sherbet Mimosas however, I only use the champagne and sherbet, skipping the additional alcohol.

5. Grandmothers need Spoiling Too

While Mother’s Day primarily focuses on the relationship between Mother and Child, the grandchildren can also play a role with sweet little homemade cards or hand-made gifts for the honorary Grandmother, Nanna, or Grammy as well! Nothing melts a grandparents heart quicker than a cute little craft project.

Love Bugs and Postcards has an AMAZING compilation of craft ideas in their post: 12 Fabulous and Fun Mother’s Day Crafts no point in re-inventing the wheel here!

6. Dessert is ESSENTIAL

I have an incredibly HUGE sweet tooth. Period. A Mother’s Day, or frankly any holiday, is not a celebration without dessert. So here is a list of possible pre-made dessert ideas to serve at your Mother’s Day Party:

7. Decor – Less is More (Hey, it’s your day too!)

IMG_8180

Whenever hosting a Mother’s Day event, and being a mother yourself, many times we get so swept up in planning that “our day” becomes a day of work. So keep it simple. Use a table runner that’s fairly neutral, some miscellaneous vases, a tray, or even floral arrangements that double as both a gift AND a centerpiece! We have a trifle bowl full of apples on a wooden tray sitting on our kitchen every day. It’s simple but pretty and would be an excellent centerpiece for an event like this. Even little dishes of candy can be included into a tablescape.

8. Put Thought into the Gift 

Mother's Day GIFT GUIDE (1)

I have spent many hours researching the top items available on the market this year, and have developed a fairly comprehensive list of suggestions, including some previous Mother’s Day gifts I have received. Last year, I found some unique and personalized options through Etsy shops that were tailored specifically to my Mom and Mother-in-laws tastes.

If you are looking for some suggestions for the Mother in your life check out my Complete Mother’s Day 2017 Gift Guide

9. Don’t Over-Plan

Keeping to simple foods, drinks, and sweet little gifts is more than enough. Don’t get crazy with decorations, over-the-top cleaning. We are all Moms! We get it! Your Mom will not be inspecting the windows for toddler finger smudges, nor will they be looking for hints of dust on your shelves. Remember this is YOUR weekend, so enjoy it alongside the Mom role models in your life!

10 Tips for Hostingthe Perfect

10. Outdoor Seating

If the weather permits, outdoor seating areas are always a nice introduction to a season of picnics and summer weather. But keep in mind, Mother’s Day falls DEAD CENTER in early allergy season. If you are planning to do outdoor seating keep in mind the following issues:

  • Wind – Use Table Cloth Clamps to secure your outdoor tablescape, and consider using heavier plates as Melamine is easily scooped up with a friendly breeze.
  • Allergies – if you are serving anyone with significant allergies, it doesn’t hurt to check your pollen count on any smart phone weather app.
  • Temperature – Outdoor seating is great in theory, but lets face it, Mother Nature has a mind of her own. While you may the most beautiful garden seating for a Mother’s Day brunch, random 50 degree temperatures do not accommodate most appetites, and neither do 80 degree temperatures in full blown sunshine. We try to host our events on the massive covered porch behind out house, but there are even times when the weather just doesn’t cooperate for our outdoor living space either.
  • Alternate Location – If you are hosting at your house, it is always good to have an alternate option prepared even if it’s just inside at your kitchen table, just in case Mother Nature decides to pull a fast one on you.

 

So there you have it! 10 simple tips to help you host a fabulous event, while still enjoying your own Mother’s Day! May you all be pampered and appreciated this Mother’s Day.

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Advertisements

Bohemian Babies to Bohemian Birthdays

From the moment my daughter was born, I was set on her birthday theme. I know what you are thinking, “Seriously? Don’t you have anything better to do?” But the birthday theme fell into place because of the nursery we decided to go with. As I might have mentioned in previous posts, we did not find out the gender of our second daughter until the moment she was born. My husband was adamant on this, even to the point that he refused to attend the ultra sounds. Ladies, I recommend you not let this happen! Solo ultrasounds are not fun, not in the least bit.

The only way I would agree to the secret gender was if I could find a nursery I loved that happened to be gender neutral. Hello mint green. I was immediately in love with the Mint, Gold, and Peach color scheme for a sweet baby girl, and adored the Mint, Navy, and Gray for my little man. Nature having ultimate control, we were blessed with our second sweet baby girl on October 17th, 2015.

When we brought her home to her currently mint, and white nursery, my mind began to spin. What details could I add in and how soon could that be completed? Needless to say, her nursery is still, unfinished, but does have a few hints of peachy pink and at least feels feminine.

Fast forward 9 months to my beautiful friend Emily’s baby shower. Everyone has a friend, that friend. The one who spews creativity from their very being. The one who remembers everyone , every event, and creates those thoughtful gifts that are to be cherish forever. Her soon-to-be baby girl would have the compliment to my daughter’s nursery. Knowing the gender, she chose a light peach wall with gorgeous accents throughout the room. We chose to reflect that in her late summer baby shower. This event gave me an opportunity to begin planning in advance for the soon-to-be first birthday party I would be holding for my daughter. The theme was very similar.

I re-purposed some crafted vases from a friend, tweaking the color schemes slightly and filled them with delicate baby’s breath. Baby’s breath is my absolute flower of choice. It’s so fresh, classy, and simple that regardless of color scheme adds a fresh touch to whatever you are planning. I like to mix in hydrangeas on occasion as well. A fellow crafty friend utilized some antlers from a relative and sprayed them gold. Can I just stop for a moment and stress how much I LOVE spray painting antlers? They are gorgeous! I, however, do not have a husband who is willing to share his prized pieces. Therefore, my house continues to lack that accent piece I so desire. My fellow crafter then

My friend is one of those incredibly beautiful pregnant women, like the kind you could only expect to find on Pinterest. She is most likely going to kill me for this, but that’s the punishment for being so creative…! Also my crafting partner in crime must enter this post as our personalities were the perfect reality check for each other. I’m pretty sure we need to go into business together. #goals

During her pre-baby crafting phase she made two gorgeous  gifts for my daughter’s room. One was a dream catcher that hangs delicately above her crib, and the second was this sweet mint and white growth chart hanging just beside the little chair we used as her monthly picture prop.

After using my friends beautiful baby-to-be’s celebration as round one of Bohemian Babies theme, I began to really get serious with my party planning ventures. Immediately heading back to my Etsy-go-to gal, Shana from Belva June  we began that wonderful collaboration that happens in spaces like Etsy. After gauging my complete obsession for all things bohemian, she helped to tailor my items to perfectly fit my party vision.

These are just a few examples of some of the darling little details Shana can make!

A friend of mine was able to sit down with us a few weeks before the big day and do a little one-year photo shoot along with some family pictures. I went with some visions in my head, but wow, Vanessa knocked this out of the park! If you have not had the opportunity to view her work please make a point to check out Vanessa’s site HERE

She also did a “Baby’s First Day” session for us, thanks to my sister-in-law who has been friends with Vanessa since childhood. Vanessa and I went to elementary school together riding the VAN home each day which was like private school’s version of a school bus I suppose. I’m thrilled to see her once hobby blossom into an outstanding career. Please take some time to check her out. My family photo that is linked to my Instagram page, Facebook page, and Pinterest page are all thanks to this beautiful photo session from her!

img_3571

img_3569

I mean… melt my heart!!!

PS… this is the link to the Tee Pee you see above that we bought our daughters.

After the baby shower “dress rehearsal” I decided my next big project would be to attempt the royal icing approach to beautiful cookies. Using my mother-in-laws recipe that I have modified, I then began the trial and error of flooding, piping, and painting cookies!

And that was my first attempt with Royal Icing! I followed these up with Minnie Mouse ones a month later for my niece’s second birthday party. I have decided that anyone who does this for a wedding is truly my hero. The amount of time I had invested in these alone was unreal. I couldn’t imagine doing this ALL DAY EVERY DAY! Props to you bakers!

So then there was this cake, and the cake was inspired by Shana’s site as well. But this cake is the real reason why I will NEVER attempt to bake a cake on my own again. At least not one that I want nice and smooth anyways. Another friend of mine makes the gorgeous cakes. And yes, my friends, this cake is GLUTEN FREE in all of it’s chocolate peanut butter goodness.

The party ended up looking EXACTLY like I wanted it to, even though both of my children were sick, the weather was a little more than uncomfortable cool, but hey… it looked good in photographs right?

I re-purposed the already once re-purposed vases again and incorporated a little of Shana’s magic so they had a bit more of the birthday party theme, and made little head dresses for each of my little Indian princess guests! The cute little woodland character headbands were an Etsy find. I priced out making them myself but it would have cost me almost exactly the same to do it on my own, and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t rather have something exactly the same made for you if it could be?

fullsizerender-2

So my sweet little princess’s pow-wow went off with only a few hitches, but overall I was very pleased with it! I have all of my items saved, of course. Who knows when someone might need a bohemian party planned? If you do, you know who to call!

Cheers!

  • Whitney

 

Winter Birthday Blues Brightened

Being a child with a December birthday, the birthday parties never involved swimming pools, outdoor pinatas, picnics with family, or the freedom that seems to come when you can let a child run loose through the yard. No, mine consisted of a few parties with friends at places like Pizza Hut or my personal favorite, a dinner of choice, a gob cake, and the best part, celebrating it with my parents and godparents. I am the youngest of three children, with the next in line being 10 + years older than me. After my sister headed off to college, my life seemed to feel very much like an only child’s.

I had a childhood friend who had a younger brother and older sister. Her family was so close-knit. I will forever remember going to her house in high school and finding them all sprawled out over the floor and couches watching movies together, never feeling the social pressures to be out all weekend with friends. I loved that, and wanted that for my future family someday. I also swore I would never have children in the winter months and give them the opportunity to have fun and exciting OUTDOOR birthdays. That being said, my first daughter was born on the coldest day in January with wind chills of minus twenty degrees. So much for that fantasy!

As I might have mentioned previously, I am a planner, an organizer, and a do-er. I love, love, love, a good themed party! My oldest daughter followed in my misfortune of having that winter birthday when all of her cousins have those glorious fair-weather summer and early fall birthdays. But I am determined to give her an amazing birthday each year that is fun and unique. I also happen to have a fellow party planning fanatic who has children in the same seasons as mine. So when I begin posting pictures of the over-the-top matchy matchy decorations, and receiving the “you have too much time on your hands” criticisms, I am immediately comforted by her equally and often times more fabulous themes. This year she provided a glorious rainbow and trolls theme (yes… I am talking about you girl!)

For my daughter’s first birthday we went with “Minnie Mouse” and as this was my first birthday planning, I could not settle for the mediocre character plates, character napkins, and some plastic table cloths. I must warn you, I was not photographing this event with the plans of blogging about it, so please take my pictures with a grain of salt.

So the pictures may not bring it justice, but who cares when you have a picture of the sweetest little Minnie Mouse ever?! This was before I got into my pretty cookie phase and felt the need to make matching sugar cookies to go with every party theme. As this was the first birthday, we did rent a local social hall to host, and it was a nice occasion but a massive head-ache to haul everything home. We scaled back on the guest lists for birthdays two and three.

snow-bunny For birthday number two, we enlisted the creativity of some fabulous fonts from my favorite font download websites and the “Snow Bunny” theme following the pink and blues for a color scheme. As I mentioned, the guest list was scaled back and the party was moved back to our 1862 newly renovated farmhouse. My husband is one of four children who are all married and have two children each, plus two parents and 3 grandparents (literally, my childhood dream) all healthy and living. My family consisted of my parents and cousin who come to everything for my children and support them in every way possible, making our home the perfect sized venue for our little snow bunny’s party.

I was pretty obsessed with the idea of a hot cocoa bar for this party including a variety of toppings from chocolate chips to caramel bits, to mini marshmallows, to Homemade Snowflake Marshmallows which were delicious!

img_1331

img_1383 And of course, our sweet little snow bunny admiring her balloons. (Feel free to notice through my kitchen window, while I capitalized on the winter themed party, it was a record breaking 63 degrees. On January 31st. In Western Pennsylvania. Perfect.)

I have casually mentioned my mother-in-laws glorious soft sugar cookie recipe that after some slight alterations, turns into a soft, delicious gluten-free delicacy. Traditionally, she uses a soft classic white icing and has a very stylized decoration with a star tip. It’s the type of cookie decoration that takes you right back to childhood, to old-school bakery style decorations, and screams “I AM DELICIOUS. EAT. ME.” I tried to replicate her tried-and true star tip decoration style with my version of gluten free snowflakes.

img_1315

I am practicing all forms of self control to not get up from finishing this post and dig into the Valentine stash of these cookies my daughters made as Valentine gifts. I will share my modified recipe of this soft cookie recipe in a future cookie series of posts.

Now, by this point, my oldest daughter had discovered the mastermind movie of Frozen so when grocery shopping I was automatically drawn to all things Frozen.  I did notice that Royal brand gelatin had a series of pink, purple, clear (very cool looking jello), and blue gelatin powder. After making my traditional twist on the classic jiggler recipe, I layered the colors to create a very Frozen inspired version of snowflake jigglers.

 

img_1313
Again, keep in mind, I was not photographing with the idea of sharing these with the world. That came after the fact.

For the cake, I mentioned that as a child, (and frankly… still today) I always requested a GOB CAKE. Mother… if you are reading this, I’m still waiting for the one for my 30th birthday…

I love the classic gob treat, and whatever genius female in my family first turned that fabulous baked good into a cake, I believe it was my aunt, I thank you! Now for a gluten-free version of the cake, you really need to have a good, rich, chocolate cake recipe. You could start from scratch creating the layers of cake, but I have actually found several boxed version that make a very rich bakery style cake when you add a few extra ingredients to the mix. For the snow-bunny theme, I stuck with a simple white icing and clear sprinkles to present as a simple “snow cake.”

img_1324

You can find the gluten-free Gob Cake recipe in a future post as well! With all of these promises of future recipes that I will inevitably have to bake to post, I can pretty much kiss all those “healthy eating” resolutions good bye! It’s fine with me though, because a gob cake trumps all resolutions in my mind.

Other than some great printables, good food, and balloons, the rest of the party was pretty simple. (Ok, I can feel you all rolling your eyes at me…)

Fast forward to our most-recent party adventure and my MOST FAVORITE ETSY SHOP EVER!!! Brace yourselves, because Shana is fabulous. She has the most creative decor, stylish ideas, and unique accessories. I wish I had a little boy in my life to party plan for. But as I mentioned earlier, we are living in a sea of girls! Girls, on girls, on girls! A series of Dad-friends who all have little girls!

Shana McGavock is so phenomenal to work with! Along with her beautiful designs, she is great with providing decor suggestions, personalizing your details, and making your little Mr. or little Miss. feel so special. The Etsy shop name is Belva June and please, if you shop, tell her Whitney sent you!

For birthday number three, Shana heavily inspired me to ask our guests to “Flock on Over” and “Flamingle” with Brielle! I mean, seriously, how can you not LOVE a three year old celebrating with flamingos?!

whitney-griffith

It didn’t stop there, she went on to create darling individualized little signs with cute sayings like “Party like a Pineapple” which my husband insisted during the entire party was not a real saying… like he would know.

flamingle-1

Seriously, how can you not party like a pineapple when you have flamingo straws???! Clearly I had a little too much fun planning this party. I should also throw in a disclaimer that if you ever decide to purchase these amazing 36 inch balloons from Amazon, while the balloons are an inexpensive addition to a party, all of the helium involved in filling them is NOT.

As I get deeper and deeper into this, I’m realizing this could have been a series of three posts, but it’s all in the learning process of blogging I suppose. The wrappers and tags were all from Shana’s fabulous shop!

The cakes were done by me. I used my tried and true chocolate cake, and made a fresh strawberry butter cream filling for the center with a marshmallow buttercream on the outside. Looking back, I believe everyone agrees the entire thing should have been slathered in that delicious Strawberry butter cream. YUM.

But those straws. How could you not love those straws. I still have a package and plan to re-purpose several of these decorations for a faculty luau luncheon next month.

flamingle-7

There are those cookies again! I told you, cookies and jigglers are party staples with the Bargerstock kiddos. You might be wondering about those flamingo cookies. And why on earth I wouldn’t just get a flamingo cookie cutter?! My mom and I were shopping at a local mall back in the fall (yes… I chose this theme months before the party) and I found a flamingo cookie cutter, but at the last second felt I could find a slightly larger one online if I looked, so I put it back. Being the absent-minded mother that I am, having the cookie cutter in my hand registered as “oh yes, you bought that, check it off your list” It wasn’t until I mixed up and rolled out the first round of cookies that I realized, “oh wait, NO. You DIDN’T buy that.” So we rolled with it and squeezed a flamingo in, star tip style of course, the number 3.

flamingle-8

And so, I will leave you with these sweet cheeks and the thought that, just because you have a winter birthday, does not mean it has to be dull, gray, boring, cold, or blah. No, you can create anything if you take the time and just put your mind to it!

Or call me! And I’ll hook a sista up!

Cheers!

  • Whitney