Brunch On A Budget: How To Host A Spring Brunch For Under $100

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Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the idea of hosting a magical spring brunch has never sounded lovelier. Shortly into your Martha Stewart springtime-pastel-fantasy, you remember how you broke your back, and the bank, trying to work out all the tiny little details to be the hostess-with-the-mostess. Ahh, if only you had a party planner. And, if only you could do it for under $100. Well, your wish is our command. We had the privilege of speaking with one of the Queen bees of party planning, and she helped us orchestrate a springtime brunch that’ll have your backyard buzzing beautifully for under $100.

The challenge: Spring Brunch for 4-6 people under $100.

The expert: Sarah Lowy of JOWY Productions.

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Sarah Lowy and her partner, Jodi Cohen, have conquered the world when it comes to hosting magical events (literally).  From the opening of Palm Island in Dubai, to Oprah’s parties, all the way to the Golden Globe’s In Style after party, which resulted in a masterful collaboration with legendary designer Tom Ford, it’s safe to say that these lovely ladies might know how to throw a fete.  More than just hosting “events,” Jowy Productions prides itself on creating  “everlasting experiences. ” But could they apply this whimsical experience-making to a budgeted back yard brunch?  Sarah says it’s not a problem:  “You can spend a lot of money, but if you don’t master the timing it won’t be worth it. The most important thing is to create a specific world, engage the senses, and take your guests on a journey from start to finish.” Let the brunch journey begin!

Where:  Your home, preferably the great outdoors. Spring is the ideal time to take advantage of the beautiful outdoors. If weather permits, move outside and use your patio, garden, deck, or even a local park.

Color Scheme and Table Setting: Use no more than three Colors and be consistent with them. Color-blocking is a strong way to keep the environment looking clean, chic, and vibrant. For a good spring theme, Sarah suggested color-blocking with vibrant colors like, blue, hot pink, and bright yellow. Use plain white for the plates and bring in color with your napkins and accent glasses. For example, blue can be used for the water glasses. Also, you can line the table with smoothed out sea glass ($19) for added texture in an enchanting bright blue.

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Flowers: Consider mini potted herbs or mini succulents ($6). These types of centerpieces can double as party favors as well.  Attach personal tags/ place settings to the potted plants. You can purchase whimsical tags on ETSY ($8), or even make your own. Sarah suggests using construction paper that reflects your color palette. If you prefer traditional flowers, you can use hot pink and yellow daises, tulips, or mums, placed in blue-glassed mason jars ($10). It’s a simple yet elegant design at an affordable price. Look for deals on flowers at Trader Joes, your local flower mart, or Costco.

Thoughtful touches: Engage your guests from the very beginning. When your guests RSVP, have them send a list of their five favorites songs.  Collect them all together on Spotify, label it “Spring Mix 2015,” and you’ve just created a memorable playlist that your guests will be able to revisit. You can also have your guests plant their own seeds: Provide mini terra-cotta pots and a variety of floral seeds. Sarah says you can think of these little touches and details are a way of “launching your friends into spring.”

The Spread:  When it comes to food, brunch food is actually easier on the wallet than you might’ve imagined. Presentation is key. Look for unique serving dishes.  You can scavenge your local flea markets or goodwill and find some pretty original containers.  Here are a few ideas for some super affordable yet tasty brunch food favorites:

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BAGELS – A mixed bag of a dozen bagels. Indulge in all the wonderful possible flavor combinations.  Serve with Lox, a variety of cream cheese, egg-salad, and tuna salad.  Serve the spreads and accoutrements in individual dishes and label with little place cards.

CHEESE BOARD – Purchase an assortment of affordable cheeses at Costco or Trader Joe’s. Rearrange on a nicer serving platter. Pair with fresh berries, nuts, grapes, dried fruits, honey, and crackers.

MEDITERRANEAN SALAD – In equal measure, dice-up cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Toss with olive oil and salt to taste.

EGG BLINTZ SOUFFLE – This is an incredibly tasty dish and can be prepped the night before. The ingredients are affordable and it feeds up to eight. Sarah served it at her own impromptu brunch a couple of weeks ago and says it was a crowd favorite.

Ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1 ½ cups sour cream
½ cup orange juice
1 cup flour
2 tsps baking powder

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Blintz Filling:
1 (8-oz) cream cheese, cut up
1 pints sm. curd cottage cheese
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 13 by 9 in. baking dish. Using a blender, mix butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, juice, and flour. Pour ½ batter into the dish.

Prepare filling:
Mix all ingredients in food processor. Drop by heaping spoonfuls over batter. Can cover to chill or store in fridge overnight until ready to serve. Before baking, bring back down to room temperature. Bake uncovered 50-60 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve with sour cream, syrup, or assorted jams.

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TREATS – A mixed platter of donuts will never go untouched.  Explore your local bakery for other deliciously gluttonous ideas. Think guilty pleasures: Cronuts and Cinanbuns, oh my!

DRINKS –  Create a DIY Mimosa bar.  Place bottles of Prosecco on ice. Pair with your favorite juice, such as orange or grapefruit. Pour the juice into separate carafes and place a stack of glasses nearby, along with a small ice bucket.  For “virgin” options, you can offer a fresh lemonade to mix with sparkling water, and a fresh spring of mint. Cheers!

Let’s get that brunch playlist started. What are your favorite springtime songs?  Let us know here.

-Agatha Nowicki is an actress and a writer. Follow her bits of prose here or watch clips of drama here.