Throw a French-themed Brunch Party!

Everything you need to throw a French-themed brunch party without spending a bunch of money on decorations you’ll only use once and champagne that’s beyond your reach. So that you can (and will) have your own French Brunch, here are all the steps in order to make your party go as smoothly as possible.

2-4 Weeks Before (or longer): Invitations

Use any method you want. I always go for a personal email or call if it’s a small group.

1 Week Before: Think Decor

Gather decorations. For our French-themed party I decided to go “French Country” rather than “Big City Paris” because French Country is a bit more forgiving and most people (including myself!) are quite likely to have several things in in their homes already that fit the style. “French Country” is one of the easiest decorating styles to pull together for cheap. Think Old-world, romantic, antique and rustic mixed with white, bright, and light.

Tips for French Country decor (video)

For a French Country-themed event look around your house (or nearest thrift store) for items like wooden crates; white/off-white ceramic and porcelain dishes; unglazed terra cotta; wood; feminine touches like lace, floral patterns and curlicues; pink, yellow, blue and aqua; potted herbs brought indoors and dramatically large or small cut flower arrangements.

I pulled out a chipped white porcelain bowl for my peaches; the cream pitcher from my grandmother’s tea set for the raspberry sauce; and mismatched glass and crystal cups for serving. I used this small teak cutting board as a cheese board and bought a new package of white and blue tea towels for wrapping up sliced bread (and cleaning up spilled wine with style). An antique Le Parfait canning jar serves as a flower vase.

If you have a nice wooden table, don’t cover it! If your table is maybe not so good-looking, a white or off-white tablecloth will be perfect. When you set your table, think levels. A boring table setting is a flat one. Add height with your flowers and your serving dishes. Mix up footed bowls or goblets with shallow bowls and platters. My cake stand worked great as a quiche plate. Having some items on a pedestal allows you to fit more dishes on your table if necessary.

Another tip that’s good for any party is to separate your drink area from your food area. By having two stations, you eliminate some of the crowding and clustering and make it easier for people to serve themselves quickly.

A week before the party is also a good time to think about the menu. I chose a very simple menu (with some help from my pen-pal in France, Stéphanie) of Quiche Lorraine; mushroom quiche; several cheeses, pates and bread; gougeres (cheesy poofs!); store-bought pastries; a simple herbed salad (recipe below); Peach Melba for dessert. By now you should have a good idea of who will be attending so you can adjust the menu if you know you’ll have some vegetarian or gluten-free guests to serve.

Quiche Lorraine Video

2 Days Before: Cheese, Dessert, and Wine

Get your cheese no more than 4-5 days before the party. Store it tightly wrapped in the fridge.

How to Make a Cheese Plate Video

Not all desserts can be made two days ahead, but Peach Melba can! That’s why I chose it. That, and it’s really fast and easy to make and everyone loves it and it’s gluten-free and can even be made vegan. Really a perfect dessert for any occasion now that I think about it!

Peach Melba Video

Get your bubbles in the fridge now, too, so it has plenty of time to get very cold. Some suggestions of sparkling wines that “drink like champagne” without breaking your wallet are: La Marca Prosecco ($12-16) Vibraciones Cava ($10-12) and Chanson Royale Sparkling Rose ($12-16). Lillet ($18-22) a French aperitif wine, is also a fun option to have. Chill it and mix it half and half with club soda in champagne flutes, orange twist optional. Grab a couple liters of Perrier for the non-drinkers. And get an extra bag of ice, if you have freezer space. Never can have too much ice!

1 Day Before: Flowers, Table, and Music!

Get your flowers or potted plants ready the day before the party. They’ll look just as good as if you did them the day of, but you’ll be saved more time later for doing your makeup and poking at your blackheads until they get all red and inflamed, which means you’re ready for pictures! (Just me?) Flowers that last a while and also fit into our theme are: stock, sunflowers, roses, baby’s breath, carnations. Potted plants that do well are: mint, oregano, sage, lavender, thyme. If you can get your herbs to bloom before the party, that is extra pretty!

I made a Spotify playlist for our French brunch. You can listen or follow it here, or just use it as inspiration for your own playlist.

Go ahead and set your buffet table now, too. Decide which dishes to use and what will go on them. Set out a stack of plates, napkins, silverware. Get your drink station ready with glasses and a couple towels for cleaning up spills. An ice bucket and a corkscrew if needed.

PARTY DAY!!!

The culmination of all your hard work sampling cheeses and hunting down the perfect antique bidet to use as a flower vase has paid off! Party day has arrived.

Things to be done the morning of the party:

  1. Buy Bread. The freshest (therefore best) bread is made the same day it’s eaten. Buy some fresh loaves and some pastries like pan au chocolate or croissants if you like. I’ve been told that’s the way the French do it.
  2. Make those quiches! (or is the plural of quiche just quiche?) To save time, you can mix up the egg/cream the night before and refrigerate. You can even cook the bacon and mushrooms the night before. About three hours before party time, assemble and bake the quiche. This allows them to cool and firm up before slicing, but they will still be fresh and a little warm.
  3. Lay out your cheeses. Put them out (you can keep them wrapped if you want) at least an hour before so they have time to soften. They will taste better this way.
  4. Toss a salad! Do a very simple salad like this:
Print

Herb Salad

  • Author:
  • Yield: 8

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 bunch sorrel or watercress
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 5 ounces baby arugula
  • 5 ounces mesclun or baby mixed greens
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Put oil and vinegar in the bottom of a large salad bowl.
  2. Add tarragon leaves, torn sorrel or watercress, chives, arugula and greens.
  3. Toss to thoroughly coat until all the greens are glossy.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss once more.
  5. Serve immediately

Et Voila! Change your clothes, fix your hair, then congratulate yourself for a job well done and cross your fingers that no one gets way too drunk and falls down the stairs.

More French Recipes to Try!

Quiche Lorraine
Mushroom Quiche
Peach Melba
Gougeres

Comments

  1. pat Soltis says:

    Hilah,

    I love all of your French brunch suggestions. I’ve spent time in France, in the company of REAL French people. Like you the French know how to throw a slightly-less-than-formal party, making it relaxed and fun.

    When I was married (thirty-some years ago now) my wife and I entertained on a regular basis, usually slightly more formal, sit-down dinners. My favorite menu consisted of recipes from the late, genius French chef, Alain Chapel.

    green spinach noodles with scalded heavy cream and gruyere cheese;
    chicken fricassee, caramelized with white and red wine vinegar, a bit of cream, diced tomato;
    puff pastry with raspberries;

    Lots of fun.

    Keep up the good work. I hope Flint is OK.

    Pat

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