There are few things that more perfectly celebrate a sunny summer day than brunch. From mid-day festivities to leisurely outdoor meals under the bright morning sky, the options for throwing an inviting brunch are seemingly endless. If you aren’t sure where to start, read on for some of our favorite ideas for hosting the perfect summer brunch party.

floral arrangements and place settings on picnic table

Set the Stage

Start by deciding if you want to host your brunch party inside or outside. From there, ideas for the perfect party décor will flow. For small indoor gatherings with an elegant feel, you may want to pull out the good china and the upscale glassware. However, summer often brings with it a more relaxed atmosphere. To keep things more casual, choose a color palette that can be easily expressed through bright serving bowls, glassware, linens and flowers. Lighter shades of blues, greens and yellows, in addition to white, bring an airy feeling to your summer brunch. Martha Stewart Living suggests going the extra step for casual daytime parties by adding hanging medallions. The magazine explains that you can hang decorative medallions “above your dining table or the buffet table for maximum impact.” Set up a drink and appetizer station in an area that is ideal for socializing, leaving the buffet table free for the main event.

With the arrival of warmer summer weather, brunches often move out of doors. This does not mean that you have to go ultra-casual. Start by setting up your serving buffet with plates and platforms to reveal all your menu goodies at different, and easy to see, levels. You can bring your good china outside, or you can use faux glassware and everyday plates. The choice is yours. The editors at Real Simple note that when serving brunch from a buffet, “guests often take a fresh plate for seconds or dessert, so plan on two or three plates per person.”

As with an indoor party, outdoor brunches can benefit from a defined color palette. Outdoor buffet tables shine when you set them with linens, from crisp white covers to colorful runners. The same is true of your dining table, which can be decorated with complementary shades of your more colorful options or a lovely white tablecloth. While you have nature all around you, adding centerpieces or decorative flower arrangements to your buffet or dining table can add a beautiful finishing touch. If possible, choose flowers that tie in with your color palette.

chalk board menu on table with coffee and croissant

Plan Your Brunch Menu

When you are designing your brunch party menu, consider the day of preparation. You will want at least some foods that can be prepared the day before the brunch to avoid frantic cooking on the day of the festivities. Otherwise, you have an array of options, from breakfast favorites to lunch classics. Also, if you have a particular theme in mind, the food can often complement that choice.

When you begin sorting through ideas for your perfect menu, Martha Stewart Living suggests “choosing one egg dish and one heartier dish, plus a cocktail or mocktail…” and then finishing it off with fruit salad or pastries. Quiche is always a favorite, and it can be made with delicious options for both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Martha Stewart Living recommends incorporating frittatas but warns that they may be time and ingredient consuming, as opposed to an option like slow scrambled eggs. Eggs and bacon (or veggie) casseroles are also a great addition to any brunch table. Want to include a unique spin on traditional eggs Benedict? Justin Chapple offers up a recipe to Food & Wine for potatoes Benedict with make-ahead poached eggs that will wow your guests. Freshly made muffins, scones and other pastries are always hit, and seasonal fruits can be made into a tempting salad, perfect as an addition to a plate or as an option for those looking for something lighter.

Do you have the space to set up a warming station on or near your buffet table? If so, Martha Stewart Living suggests offering a sweet treat like pancakes, crepes, French toast or waffles.

If you have a small group, and you have the batter ready, you can also set up a station to make waffles or other options on the fly. However, if you are doing the cooking yourself, that may tie you up when you would prefer to socialize with your guests.

For dessert, a yogurt parfait is a delight, as is a traditional key lime pie. If you hit the perfect window, fresh blueberries in a free-form blueberry tart, like the one showcased in Food & Wine, will have your guests talking for days.

orange juice being poured in champagne glass

Mix Your Cocktails

Along with a selection of fresh juices and water, daytime cocktails (and mocktails) are a welcome addition to your summer brunch. In general, you will want to choose lighter cocktails than you would for a nighttime soirée. Among the favorites mentioned by the editors at Martha Stewart Living: a pineapple-raspberry Bellini, a classic Bloody Mary, a hibiscus-ginger spritz or a pink mimosa could be perfect for your brunch. Does a morning Margarita fit particularly well with your brunch party theme? The magazine floats the idea of “swap[ping] out the usual tequila for lower-alcohol (and more brunch-friendly!) agave wine in this citrusy margarita.” You can choose signature drinks for your party and create big batches in decorative pitchers or set up a drinks cart with all the ingredients and offer to make drinks for your guests as they arrive.

vinyl records stacked on floor

Make Your Playlist

Once you have your menu set and your décor planned, consider making a brunch playlist. It’s a wonderful way to create an inviting atmosphere for your guests. Real Simple suggests downloading one of their special party playlists through Spotify. Of course, if you have favorite tunes, you can easily create your own mix for the day. From quiet jazz to cool funk to island tunes that seem to keep time with the warm breeze, you can create your ideal brunch vibe.

place setting with leafy accent and flowers

Add Special Place Cards

Do you want to give your summer brunch party a feeling of occasion? Create unique table place cards for your guests. For a refined feel, Martha Stewart Living suggests using “sophisticated white place cards to show guests where to sit.” You can also choose casual card options that fit with your theme or introduce fun favors that indicate each guest’s name on the tag. The favors should be relatively small; mini boxes of specialty chocolates are always a hit. If your summer brunch party is for a birthday or other celebration, you could consider incorporating small gift bags at each setting.

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