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Winter Brunch Ideas: Event Pro Shares Her Best Tricks + the Prep-Ahead Pancake Secret That Makes It So Easy

Warm up at a cozy seasonal brunch that's so special yet easy on you!

During the cold, blustery months, there’s something so comforting about gathering with your nearest and dearest for a cozy weekend brunch. And whether you’re hosting someone’s birthday or just want to throw a fun get-together, you’re sure to bring joy to loved ones and yourself with a simple DIY brunch. Here, we asked a party expert for her tried-and-true winter brunch ideas that are as simple as they are affordable.

“Entertaining is one of my favorite things,” says Laura Russell, founder of MakeLifeLovely.com. “And this season, I hope to inspire you to get creative and throw your own party!” To get the look of Laura’s rustic wintry tabletop spread (above), line up poinsettias and mini trees on the back of a long table, then add wood serving slabs, cups of grab-and-go coffee or hot chocolate and a festive cake boosted to centerpiece status with a red cookie tin. To finish, fill any bare table spots with wrapped mints. Keep reading for more savvy winter brunch ideas!

Welcome guests with fruit-kissed signature sips

Winter brunch ideas: fruity mimosa signature sip
VeselovaElena / GettyImages

Made with orange juice and sparkling wine, a mimosa’s fruity flavor perfectly complements both savory and sweet brunch dishes. Since each is best served freshly made, try setting up a build-your-own mimosa bar. To do: Top a small table or bar cart with champagne flutes, carafes of orange juice (or any other juice you fancy), a few inexpensive bottles of Champagne, a tray of sliced fresh fruit or thawed frozen fruit (like peaches, strawberries or raspberries) and fresh mint sprigs, then have guests combine their favorite ingredients for a unique sip. Tip: Set out a carafe filled with equal parts mango nectar and orange juice for a surprising twist that will add a punch of tropical flavor to sips.

Amp up ambiance with a sparkling candlescape

Winter brunch ideas: Winter candlescape display on table
Maya23K / GettyImages

Combining seasonal backyard finds, wooden slabs and glowing battery-run candles creates an inviting woodland vignette that adds rustic charm to any corner. To do: Start by collecting a handful of pine or evergreen snippets from the yard along with a handful of pinecones. Next, top a wooden slab (Buy at Amazon, $14.62) with a round serving dish. Add evergreen snippets, pinecones and craft-store moss to dish; nestle in two battery-run pillar candles. To finish, sprinkle a few extra pinecones, evergreens and moss on slab and stack a few wooden coasters in front. For added coziness, light a vanilla-scented candle (like Vanilla Bean Cupcake, buy at Halarosis.com, $24) and place on an empty tabletop nearby.

Effortlessly prep pancakes ahead of your brunch

Winter brunch ideas: stack of pancakes on tabletop topped with fruit
AdobeStock

To ensure you don’t spend the whole party at the stove, whip up a batch of pancakes before mealtime. To keep them warm, place the pancakes in a casserole dish, overlapping each (when pancakes touch, they’ll create steam that keeps them soft). Cover the dish with aluminum foil and perforate with a fork to release just enough steam to fight sogginess; pop dish in the oven (heated to 225°F) until ready to serve.

Related: Pioneer Woman’s Secret to Fluffy Pancakes: Use a Sheet Pan — No Flipping Needed!

Pretty up plain place settings with fresh-picked extras

Winter brunch ideas: Table setting with plate, fork, knife and branches of fir with pine cone, space for text on wooden background
Anjelika Gretskaia / GettyImages

Simple stoneware settings go from basic to beautiful when adorned with fresh greenery and a sweet utensil bundle. To do: Pick handfuls of fresh evergreens from your yard; wipe down greenery with a damp cloth (to make sure it’s free of dirt or dust). Or, simply pick up faux evergreens from the craft store. Then, for each setting, top an ecru-hued plate with a folded cloth dinner napkin and utensils; wrap a length of baker’s twine around napkin and utensils and tie into a bow. To finish, tuck in real or faux evergreens under the folded napkin and scatter some extras around setting.

Delight taste buds with irresistible mini quiche cups

Winter brunch ideas: Baked homemade quiche pie in mini metal forms
AdobeStock

When it comes to winter brunch ideas, a savory breakfast quiche is a must! And to avoid the mess of slicing up a whole pie pan’s worth of quiche, try these mini egg cups. To make: Roll out refrigerated pie crust, punch out circles with a cookie cutter and press into wells of a greased muffin tin. Fill with shredded cheese and chopped spinach (and any other of your favorite veggies), then pour in beaten eggs. Bake at 375°F until golden (about 25 minutes).

Related: Chef’s Secret to Best-Ever Fried Eggs — It Takes Just 2 Minutes!

Boost the fun with a winter-themed game

You don’t have to go outside for a snowball fight! Simply grab marshmallows, then divide your group into teams of two and have them sit across from each other. Give one person from each team a plastic cup and the other a bowl of marshmallows. Have teams try to catch as many marshmallows in their cup as possible in one minute. Award winners a scratch-off lottery ticket or mini bottles of bubbly.

Bake up a wow-worthy woodland cake

Winter brunch ideas: Bark cake woodland chocolate cake on wooden stand with evergreen party picks on top for decoration
Laura Russell, MakeLifeLovely.com

Re-create Laura Russell’s woodsy centerpiece cake using a store-bought chocolate cake and chocolate chips. To do: Spread 12 oz. of melted semi-sweet chocolate chips onto a sheet of wax paper, then top with another sheet of wax paper and roll into a cylinder; chill for 1 to 2 hours. Unroll paper to create curved chocolate shards and press them into the icing.

Related: Pro Bakers Say Mayonnaise Is the Secret to the Best Chocolate Cake — Here’s Why

Send them home smiling with special to-go treats

Buffalo plaid to go party cups of party favors
Laura Russell, MakeLifeLovely.com

At her brunch, Russell poured snacks into adorable Buffalo Plaid Snack Bowls (Buy at OrientalTrading.com, $9 for 12) that she customized with tree stickers. To make stickers, sketch tree shapes onto a roll of craft-store white stick-on vinyl, cut shapes out with embroidery scissors, then peel off the backings and stick on bowls. Tip: Fill bowls with a tasty trail-mix style treat made by combining popcorn, chocolate chips and salted nuts.


For more inspiring DIY party ideas and brunch tips, check out these stories:

Party Planners: Easy Tips For Creating a Grazing Board That Will Wow *Your* Crowd

4 Brunch Dishes and Cocktail Pairings That Will Make You Want to Throw a Party

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