My Make-Ahead Menu for a Bright & Colorful Mother's Day Brunch

Gatherings from The Kitchn

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A few weeks my grandmother came for a short visit, and I took the opportunity to throw an early Mother’s Day brunch for her, my mother, and the rest of my family, including my brand-new nephew (my mom is now a grandma too!).

I decided that a fresh, colorful late-morning brunch was in order. Here’s my menu, and the party plan for a laid-back yet special Sunday brunch with family.

Setting the table on Sunday morning.
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The Party Idea: A Sunday Afternoon with My (Big) Family

I wanted to host a family party for my mother on Mother's Day, but I discovered my grandmother was coming for a short visit in March to meet her new great-grandson, so I decided to invite everyone then instead. It was a chance to celebrate not just one, but three moms: my mom, grandma, and sister-in-law. Perfect!

I call this a brunch, but it was really a brunchy-lunch, with elements of both, since it was a post-church affair. Also, it wasn't a fancy party with weeks of planning; it was just a family get-together on a Sunday afternoon, with plenty of food and a bright and pretty table.

However, my family being what it is, I had at least 15 people to feed. My parents and five of my seven siblings were coming, plus spouses, and my grandmother and aunt and uncle. I realized I would need an extra table, so I set up another in my office.

This is just a normal-sized party for my family, and the more the merrier, I say! But if you have a more average-sized family, this menu scales down just fine for a smaller group.

Lemon sticky rolls, unbaked, after a night in the refrigerator.
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The Party Menu: A Fresh, Make-Ahead Brunch

I wanted to keep this lunch really simple, but with so many people coming, I knew I'd need plenty of food (I have a lot of brothers). I decided on ham as the main dish, which is one of the easiest meat mains to serve a crowd. You don't even need to warm it up. I did warm it, though, and glazed it — but compared to more involved main dishes, this was a snap.

I knew the crowd would trickle in two by two after church, so I planned to start with spring appetizers like deviled eggs and a creamy dip. My grandmother really loves beets, as my mother reminded me, so I made Megan's beet and tahini dip, which was so delicious. I made both the day before the party.

For brunch I complemented the ham with lemon rolls (a family favorite), a simple asparagussalad, and a potato gratin. These were all adaptable to making ahead; I made and shaped the rolls the day before, for instance. Dessert was a dairy-free pudding — also made ahead.

Topping the pudding with raspberries.
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The Party Look: Bright & Colorful (with One Fun Surprise)

I didn't start shopping or working on this party until Saturday, and I wanted to keep it simple. I picked up flowers from Trader Joe's (I lucked out — they had such perfect and pretty flowers that week, and so cheap, too!). I also picked up a few more napkins to complement the others I had, and I bought a table runner in a fresh spring color.

I set the table with these bright pink and yellow colors, plus my own white plates and regular glasses.

Other than those table basics, I added just one special touch: A pair of oversized posters made from old family photos.

My husband hanging the posters.
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Oversized Posters from Family Photos

For a fun Mother's Day surprise, I made really big black and white posters from family photos of my grandmother and my mother. I found this idea at Jordan Ferney's blog, Oh Happy Day (a favorite daily read). You can print large posters for very little money on the black and white plotter printers at Kinkos or Staples.

I wanted one big, special surprise for Mother's Day, and I thought this might be it. It worked beautifully — I'll give you more details and instructions on Thursday for how to do this yourself.

We hung the posters behind the table in the kitchen, temporarily covering up the ixxi art print.

And that was it for prep! Some make-ahead cooking on Saturday, and a pretty (but simple) table. I'll share some of the recipes I used this week, and the whole party on Wednesday.

Photography by Rachel Joy Baransi (Columbus, Ohio)

(Image credits: Rachel Joy Baransi)