To all Gossip Girl lovers, and as an east coast native myself, nothing is better than brunch on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Chuck Bass at my beck and call to spend a whopping $100 for a meal at the Plaza Hotel in NYC. Chuck Bass may have The Empire Hotel and an endless source of money from his father, but as a college student I have a more limited budget. I’ve come across some tips for throwing a Bass-worthy brunch with some not-so-Bass-worthy funds.
1. Name cards are a must
Name cards personalize everything and will make your brunch so sophisticated, even the Waldorf will approve. Blair and her mother are sticklers for perfection. Blair’s mother, Eleanor can just never resist holding any formal event and the invite lists are long. Choose to invite a couple of close friends for an intimate gathering or invite everyone for a true Manhattan party.
You can create a simple name card with index cards and a sharpie for a sleek, classy theme. Or if you want to get crafty, this is a great DIY reference for creating beautiful custom name cards without having to break the bank.
2. Finger foods are your best friend
Not only will finger food be cute to Instagram and post on Facebook, it will be even better knowing, as the host, you don’t have to lift a finger to clean all those utensils. The simpler the better, right? Here’s another tip: buying pre-made baked goods won’t cost a ton like smoked salmon and caviar might.
As much as some would love to indulge in luxurious salmon mousses, patés, and homemade croissants, they can get pretty pricey. Keep the portions small and go for a variety of tastes, colors, and textures if you can spare an extra couple of dollars. Here are some recipes that are both adorable to plate and a breeze to make.
3. Buffet-style is always best
There is nothing better than coming to a brunch and seeing mountains of food. Bart Bass always pleases his guests with an eclectic selection of brunch delicacies, so it’s only fitting we try to replicate it. A buffet allows your guests to interact both with the food and each other in a completely casual environment.
It’s best to keep the food simple with inexpensive ingredients so you can satisfy picky eaters without dedicating too much time and energy. Having an oatmeal bar is wallet-friendly, as it averages around just $0.13 per serving. Toppings can include a variety of ingredients you might already have laying around your kitchen; brown sugar, jams, nuts and fruit. Your guests will be able to make their own rendition that is both comforting and filling. If you want to keep it light and decorative, try a yogurt parfait bar and pair it with colorful in-season fruit.
4. Shortcut recipes are a life-saver
For those who consider themselves a homemade-only kind of person but don’t want to spend money (or effort) learning how to make Eggs Benedict or curing your own salmon. Try short-cut recipes that involve a bit of cooking and use some pre-made items that allow you to add your own twists to classic brunch favorites.
Let’s say you buy frozen waffles; have your guests top them with different condiments like maple syrup, chocolate chips, and whipped cream. Rufus Humfrey would approve 100%, since waffles are his favorite. Here are some great recipes ideas to add to your brunch buffet.
5. You gotta have macaroons
Blair’s favorite guilty pleasure. I mean, who can resist? Her lover, Chuck Bass even flew all the way to Paris to get her the real deal. They are so colorful and add an air of elegance to any occasion. These beauties can be prepackaged or homemade, and they look really cute either way. Unfortunately, the Lauderée is quite expensive, so finding a cheaper, equally as tasty alternative is your best option for making it budget-friendly.
*Spoon tip: Trader Joe’s offers 12-macaroon packs for only $4.99
6. Remember the drinks
Whether your brunch is booze-free or booze friendly, it is always important to have a variety of drinks. You can’t party like an Upper East-sider without something bubbly in your hand. Blair and her minions are always at the local bar catching up with a gin martini but Serena loves a good glass of champagne.
Ask your guests to bring a bottle of sparkling wine, orange juice, or even some fancy lemon water. Let your friends help in the selection of beverages because you shouldn’t do all the work yourself. Serve drinks in champagne flutes or buy plastic ones to make it easier on both you and them. Serena always loves to enjoy a glass of champagne with any occasion, so why not go along with it and celebrate?
7. Dress for success
We all know B and S have styles that kill. From their time at Constance Billard School for Girls to the streets of SoHo and Paris, this dynamic duo is always flaunting something fashion-forward and sophisticated. It would be only fitting for everyone in attendance to be dressed accordingly. Casual, fancy, or simple are all versatile styles most people can accommodate. Headbands are, of course, allowed (and encouraged).
8. Seasonal flowers are always in
Flowers can get quite expensive. Blair always had Hydrangeas in her room and they add a refined, upscale look to almost any event. An added plus: they smell great and will brighten a room for days after. Buy a larger bouquet and create smaller bundles yourself. This way you can spread out the flowers without spending a fortune on elaborate arrangements.
#SpoonTip: Pink Peonies are Blair’s favorite
9. Don’t forget to have fun
Create a brunch playlist and, most importantly, enjoy the food and the company. Brunch is the best way to get together and have some fun just like Manhattans elite would have. If you don’t live near the Big Apple, try having a little fun throwing your own NYC inspired brunch, as there is always an excuse to throw a party.