Valentine Brunch. Doesn’t that just sound like so much fun? Of, course, it does. And, let’s admit it. We love our girlfriends. We love to laugh with each other, tell stories, share the latest scoop about a new dress, a new store, movies, books, recipes, babies, grand-babies, new drapes, moving, our homes, our families. The list is endless of what we can talk to our girlfriends about. We have girl friends from high school, college, church, camp, sorority sisters. Women we met at the playground or in the carpool line when our kids were little that become lifelong friends. Women we met in PTA or Junior League or other charity organizations. Friends come from anywhere, at anytime, in all shapes, sizes, and colors. You can’t have too many girlfriends. I’ve been thinking for a long time about hosting lunches for my girlfriends, ones new and old, from all diverse places. Get people together who may not know not each other and some who do. Let my friends meet new friends. Valentine’s is not just a time to express our affection for our significant other. I think it’s a perfect time to tell your girlfriends how much you appreciate their friendship, their laughter, their presence, their support. So that is what I did this past weekend. I hosted 7 girlfriends ~ some knew someone else and some didn’t know anyone else. Here’s how to host a Valentine Brunch for your girlfriends.
How to Host a Valentine Brunch
I think any successful party has pretty decorations and flowers, great food and drinks, and a relaxed host and hostess enjoying their own party. But the most important thing is great friends.
Decorations and Flowers
I made this door hanger to greet my guests. I wanted them to know this was a special occasion. Here’s the tutorial.
I don’t know a girl who doesn’t love flowers. My color scheme was pink (surprised anyone?) and gold so I had flowers on the living room coffee table, on the mantle, and in the dining room. I bought the white and pink roses at Sam’s and the cyclamen and pink tulips at my local grocery store.
The cyclamen are in the galvanized container that I bought in Atlanta last summer and brought home packed in my extra suitcase. I shared with you how I made the heart garland here.
I hung hearts and flowers from the chandelier in the dining room. How~to here.
For the dining room table, I placed pink roses in 3 rose bowls in the center of the table. “Love” sprinkles add a bit of color and festivity to the table.
As place mats I used cute Valentine scrapbook paper. I cut off the corners for a softer look. Pairing our Eternal by Lenox china and Buttercup silver with mason jars for tea or water is a fun contrast of formal with casual. The “napkins” are actually guest towels from Swoozies. I loved the pattern of gold and pink hearts. I used the same pattern for cocktail napkins.
On the commode in the dining room, I made a drink station for tea and water. The plates are for dessert. Another rose bowl of pink roses and extra pink~and~white striped straws add more color.
Drink of the Day
Always greet your girlfriends (or any guess) with a special drink: mine was Pink Lemonade Vodka with Pink Champagne. Make sure you serve it in a pretty glass. I used our basic World Market and Ikea Champagne glasses but made them festive by adding heart stickers.
TIP: we always keep champagne and martini glasses in the freezer in our garage fridge. You do have to let the glasses lose their “coldness” before putting on the stickers. I did this a day ahead and just put them back in the freezer.
I wanted a menu that I could prepare mostly ahead of time with minimal put together the morning of the party.
Here was my Prep Schedule:
Grocery shop for flowers and food.
Set dining room table.
Make flower arrangements.
Mise en place all my recipes.
Make the Strawberry Cookies and place in an air~tight container.
Make the Red Velvet Cupcakes and place in an air~tight container.
Make the frosting for the cupcakes, put in a piping bag and place in the fridge.
Wash, cut and store all the fruit in the fridge.
Assemble the crustless quiche, cover with foil and place in the fridge.
Combine the pink lemonade and vodka in a small pitcher and place in the fridge.
Make the strawberry butter and put in the fridge.
Get out serving platters and serving pieces.
Preheat the ovens, one for quiche, one for the bacon.
Cut bread into heart shapes for French toast. **You could do this a day ahead and wrap in foil.
Combine wet ingredients for French toast.
Cut package of bacon in half crosswise, rub slices with brown sugar, and place on foil~lined sheet pan with rack. Set aside on counter.
Arrange fruit on serving platter. **If you have room in the fridge, you could do this a day ahead and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Melt white chocolate in microwave and assemble marshmallow straws. Place in prepared display.
Frost the cupcakes. **You could do this a day ahead.
Fill pitchers with water and iced tea (purchased at McAlister’s ~ I love their tea and make it better and cheaper than I can. You buy it in 1 gallon containers for less than $5.00).
White Chocolate Covered Marshmallows ~ this super cute and yummy dessert treat comes from Amanda at The Fashionable Hostess. I just love her party ideas and decided I had to add this sweet to my dessert list. To hold the straws, I used a silver planter. I inserted a piece of florist’s foam that I wrapped in (what else?) pink polka~dot paper that I already had. I used pink~and~white striped straws from Party Bazaar, a local party store. If you live anywhere is Dallas, you are probably familiar with this mom~and~pop institution.
To Assemble the Marshmallow Straws: Place the white chocolate (I used about 1 cup of white chocolate chips.) in a small bowl and melt in the microwave. “Spear” each marshmallow with a straw and swirl it in the white chocolate until most of the marshmallow is covered. Then start turning the marshmallow around and tap the straw against the side of the container, allowing excess white chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle with colored sparkling sugar or beads.
I used the sharp point of my instant~read thermometer to make a hole in my paper~wrapped florist foam for the straws.
NOTE: You could completely do this ahead, but just keep the marshmallow straws away from heat. Once the chocolate is set, I would lightly cover with a piece of parchment paper. Next time I make these, I will try to make them ahead. I also think you could use styrofoam to hold the straws.
The party started at 11:00 and I planned to serve brunch about 11:45. I took the quiche out of the refrigerator at 9:30, let it set for an hour and put it in the preheated oven at 10:30. I also took my frosting out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Piping the frosting on the cupcakes took just a few minutes. Then I arranged the desserts on the bar cart in the dining room.
By 10:15, I was dressed except for lipstick (always a last minute thing with me. The last thing I did was cook the heart~shaped French toasts in a large non~stick skillet, placed them on a foil~lined sheet pan and set them aside. Everything was ready except baking the bacon (always my go~to method, especially for company), warming the French toast ~ and opening the champagne. We actually used Pink Prosecco.
As everyone arrived, I made introductions and offered a drink of the day. This group of girlfriends immediately got into the spirit of the party and I didn’t have to do anything but have a good time. At 11:30 I put the bacon in the top oven, took out the quiche, turned off the lower oven and placed the sheet pan with the French toast in the oven to warm.
Everyone made a plate, we sat down in the dining room, I said grace, we had a toast to celebrate friendship and we enjoyed a delicious meal, laughing and sharing stories (what is shared at brunch, stays at brunch.). A couple of girls helped clear the brunch plates as I made a dessert plate for everyone. I think the marshmallows were the favorite.
I wouldn’t change a thing about the party except this: I forgot to take a single picture. I had great plans for photos of toasting and clinking glasses and laughing and hugs. But I was having so much fun, I forgot. I promise to do better next time.
In case you are asking about the recipes ~ I shared the quiche recipe and the strawberry cookie recipe on The Bulletin on Saturday, February 10th. I will leave them on there for another week. Everyone at the party wanted the quiche recipe, so if you do too, subscribe to The Bulletin and you’ll get it on Saturday in your inbox. I’ll also include the Southern Sugar Bacon and the French Toast recipe. The Red Velvet Cupcakes are here ~ I made 36 mini-cupcakes and one 9~inch cake. I wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and foil and put it in the freezer. I’ll use the leftover frosting to make a cake for Sweet Shark tomorrow. You can get 48 mini~cupcakes from this recipe.
I had so much fun planning, preparing for, and hosting this girlfriend party that I’m going to do it again soon. I hope that my suggestions for decorations and drinks and menu showed you how to host a special Valentine brunch for your girlfriends.
Have a happy, happy Valentine’s.