If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve probably had a sneak peek of the fabulous Christmas Pajama-themed Brunch that I attended a couple of weeks ago. I will be the first to admit that I LOVE themed parties and dressing in costume, especially if it means I get to break out my officially licensed, Aunt Clara-approved pink bunny suit pajamas from A Christmas Story.
This wonderful holiday event was hosted by my friend and fabulous fellow boss lady, Natalie Wong, at her apartment here in Los Angeles. As you’ll see from the photos, her brunch was intimate, cozy, and perfectly staged for maximum comfort and getting into the holiday spirit.
Being that Natalie is a consummate event planner and budget fashionista, I suspected that no detail would escape her attention and, as usual, she executed a highly polished and photo-worthy affair that would turn even Taylor Swift green with envy. The best part of all? She managed to host 14 grown women without spending more than $200 total!
Here… let me help you pick your jaw up off the floor.
How did she do it, you ask? Please tell us everything so we can host our own fabulous girlfriends brunch, you say?
Well, you’re in luck, boss ladies! If you missed my 5 Rules for Stress-Free Holiday Hostessing featured on the Influenster.com blog, you’ll be pleased to know that Natalie has been kind enough to write up a highly detailed guide to hostessing an epic brunch (themed or otherwise) based on her own event planning expertise. From budget-friendly tips to logistical prep, Natalie has got you covered like a biscuit’s got gravy, baby.
Host Brunch Like a Boss Lady
by Natalie Wong
If you’re a boss lady, chances are you don’t have a lot of time or resources to host an elaborate shindig, especially around the holidays. This year, I hosted a girls-only Christmas pajama brunch for 14 of my nearest and dearest friends. Now I’m no Martha Stewart, but here’s how I did it with a $100 decorating budget and $100 grocery budget.
DECORATING ON A BUDGET
- Invest in chargers and a table runner. This will elevate your table setting from ho-hum to wow, even if the chargers are plastic. I found gold metallic ones for about $2.50 each at Target, and obviously they can be re-used at future events.
- Don’t be afraid of the Dollar Store. I prefer using real china instead of paper or plastic plates (again, for the wow factor), so I supplemented my existing dishes with simple ceramic ones from the Dollar Store. I also picked up pie pans for my quiches and cute Christmas bags for the cookies I baked as take-away gifts. Best of all, all items are just a dollar!
- Get by with a little help from your friends. Why spend money on rentals? I borrowed an extra 6’ table, table cloth, and folding chairs from a friend, extra utensils and serving platters from another friend, and a few Christmas decorations from a neighbor. Boss Lady Tip: married friends or friends with homes/garages usually have the best stuff!
- Take advantage of the store pick-up option from Target. Oh Target, how much do I love thee? Not only can I multi-task and shop on-line during conference calls for my party needs, the store pick-up option makes shopping even more convenient. I save time wandering around the store looking for things, and I can pick up the items at my convenience. (Don’t forget to log onto your Ebates account for cash back on your purchase!)
- Get an accurate head count. Boss ladies hate guessing how many guests will actually show up. I reminded everyone to RSVP before a certain date, then followed up with the ones who answered “maybe.” This strategic move will help you accommodate for the appropriate amount of food and seats.
- Send a reminder confirmation. Your guests should know what to expect. Two days before everyone arrives at your door, email event details including directions, parking instructions, menu items and suggested attire. Provide the access code for entry into your building, and any other quirky details like your no shoes policy.
- Be aware of dietary restrictions. Boss ladies are respectful of everyone’s dietary needs and will never let a guest leave her home hungry. Tip: Vegan dishes are often gluten free also.
- Prepare as much of your menu items in advance. Quiches and casseroles have simple ingredients and can be made the night before, then reheated the morning of your brunch. Grate cheeses and make your waffle/pancake mix before guests arrive.
- Ask guests to contribute. I politely requested that guests bring some sparkling – wine and personality!
DURING THE EVENT
- Have a designated area for handbags and coats. You worked hard cleaning and decorating, this will help keep things tidy! I directed everyone to the hallway closet and my bedroom.
- Hold a reception hour before guests are seated. Naturally, not all your guests will arrive on time or at the same time, so I held a receiving hour during which my friends enjoyed donuts I ordered from a local shop while introducing themselves to each other and sipping mimosas.
- Have assigned seating. This might seem too formal, but it allows you to seat specific guests with similar interests next to each other, creating a more engaging and dynamic experience for even your more bashful friends.
- Delegate and outsource like a boss lady. Most likely you’ll be busy in the kitchen and/or taking care of guests’ needs throughout the event. Assign certain friends to small, simple tasks like preparing more mimosas, flipping pancakes, or answering the door. Most of your friends will be happy to help, especially those who might not know many of your other guests.
- Have take-out containers for leftovers. I was overzealous with my quiches and let guests take home a slice for their husbands or boyfriends, or for a late afternoon snack.
For a sample menu, this is what was served:
- Gourmet donuts
- Potato pancakes
- Maple ginger pancakes (vegan) with fresh berry compote
- Spinach and gruyere quiche
- Chicken apple sausage
- Mixed berry salad
- Mimosas, orange juice, and coffee
A little more about Natalie Wong…
Natalie has over ten years of experience as a marketing and events professional, and currently manages special events and corporate giving for the SKECHERS Foundation.
When she’s not stuffing her face with fried chicken or donuts, she could be seen leading her friends on urban adventures around Los Angeles.
This pajama brunch was the first time she’s made a quiche — but rest assured the graduates of Le Cordon Bleu couldn’t have produced a flakier, fluffier quiche if they’d had even triple the food budget.
You can follow along with Natalie’s amazing foodie, fashion and travel adventures via Instagram.