Red & Pink Champagne Brunch

Remember when we were in elementary school, one of the cardinal rules of art was that red and pink don’t mix? Back then you wouldn’t have dreamed of putting those two colors together even on a Valentine. Maybe it had something to do with everyone’s sheer terror of accidentally putting that one red piece of laundry in with the whites, the result a pink offense of gigantic proportions.

Flash forward and suddenly pink and red are a perfectly acceptable, even desirous couple. We see it all the time in fashion and fabrics, and when the Crayola box gets jumbled, leaving cotton candy next to radical red and tickle-me-pink alongside scarlet. Throw in orange and/or turquoise and you’ve got a delicious combo.

You’ll notice that from time to time I mention I’m not a pink person. At all. Yet it keeps showing up in my projects in small doses, and I’m getting a little worried. The latest being a Sunday brunch we hosted.

A set of gorgeous vintage china rimmed in pale pink and gold turned up a couple of years ago at my former consignment store, House Dressing. I was immediately awestruck by it. A quick check of the maker’s mark revealed that it was made exclusively for Mary Kay Cosmetics in Korea. Besides those quirky pink Cadillacs, the china was given as a prize for reaching a certain level within the company.

I couldn’t resist purchasing some of it. Notice I just said “some”. I think you’re better off just having parts of sets; that way you can mix and match them at your table and not be so monochromatic, making for a more versatile china cabinet. So I came home with four each of the dinner, salad and bread plates. In the back of my mind I was thinking “why???” because I have almost nothing else in pink. But I just knew something awaited.

That weekend we had a dinner party for 6 on Friday and a champagne brunch for 7 on Sunday. I love to entertain and decorate but with only two days in between, I ended up using the same theme for both. {A quick note about odd and even numbers at the table. Like many people, we have a rectangular table. With an odd number, one always sits at the head. I have seen people do this even with even numbers (say, someone at the head, then 3 on one side and 2 on the other)…in order to let the man of the house sit at the head. That’s my dinner table pet peeve…one person has to take a lonely seat with no one across from them. Avoid that at all costs! No one wants to be across from…well, no one.}

Beyond that little rule, I simply try to alternate everything (red placemat, pink placemat, red placemat, etc.). But the rules are not hard and fast! Take a step back and scan the table and see if it’s in balance. For example, while wine glasses don’t have to match, there should be a similar height of glassware across the table.

I even brought out some of the good silver. I can almost hear some people gasping at the thought of pulling out the silver. “It’s too good!” you say, or “It has to be hand-washed!” If you truly feel it’s too good for your guests, maybe you should reevaluate your guest list. Seriously though, everyone you invite is worthy of special touches! Any time you invite someone into your home is a time worth celebrating.

As for the hand washing…a little extra elbow grease isn’t going to kill you. I rarely use paper plates even on a daily basis because to me, breakfast with the kids is special; snacks are special.  Washing doesn’t take that long. Why let it sit in a cabinet?

My grandmother, mom and I all have the Grand Baroque silver pattern (interestingly, it was introduced the year my mom was born). Registering for it probably isn’t even a thing anymore, but it was a huge thing for us southern brides in my day…think of the enormous dinner parties the three of us could combine to have! Aunts, uncles and 5th cousins could come at Christmas and we wouldn’t run out. You don’t have to have a full set to of silver to use it…a piece here or there picked up at a flea market will make a nice showing too! My Granny would scour yard sales for a piece, whether or not it matched. And I’m not talking about fancy dinner parties. Use it for cookouts, picnics or even every day! I mean, why wait? What are you saving it for? Even if something happens to it, it isn’t the end of the world. But the person you pull it out for will feel just a little more special because you took a gave a little more effort for them.

I didn’t do much for the centerpiece. Just a little greenery cut from the yard (which is slim pickings in February), and red, pink & white floral marbles scattered along the table.

When it comes time to actually set the table, I have a little formula based on the number of people. For an even number of people, you could have half match one scheme, and half match another. Or, let’s say you have 3 people sitting on one side and 3 across from them. The middle seats could match each other, with the other four matching themselves. This is my favorite way to do it. I try to never have the same exact setting next to another, but across is ok. Another option is for the ends to match. For an odd number of people, the odd person out could stand alone with his own different, but coordinated, setting. Whatever you do, just be sure it’s all coordinated and tied in, but not perfectly matching.

My go-to napkin is the bandana. You can buy it in almost any color from Walmart for about $1 and they have the added bonus of washing and drying up very easily (no ironing). For our champagne brunch I didn’t use bandanas though, because I only had red ones on hand (too matchy-matchy & Christmasy!). I combined pink polka dot and turquoise napkins, along with napkin rings I made, courtesy of a project by my friend Eddie Ross published in Southern Living.

One of my favorite little tricks is to use an ice cream scoop to dip out the butter and put it on the table in a small bowl or dish. Butter sticks are just too hard (and hard!) to work with sometimes. Also, just behind the butter dish you can see a tiny salt cellar…these are fun to scatter over the table and you can pick them up at antique stores for less than a dollar.

Make your life easier by setting up a self-serve drinks bar. Everyone can help themselves and you don’t have to lift a finger except to pop the occasional cork. We actually had two: one for coffee, water, orange juice… and the other a mimosa bar, which was just accidentally set up at the kids’ table (there were no kids present!).  It’s conveniently located in the middle of the kitchen! {the blue on the table is paint leftover from a craft project}

We had fresh sliced oranges straight from Florida thanks to my mom! And you will note that I set out wine glasses instead of champagne. With everything to fit in (champagne, orange juice, orange slice and possibly ice)…champagne glasses are just wayyyy too small! Gather items on a tray to make them look more cohesive.

We also had an appetizer set out, which is absolutely my quickest, easiest and best-tasting go-to appetizer: cream cheese block with apple/jalapeno jelly on top & crackers. If you will always keep cream cheese on hand you can make this in less than one minute and you’ll have no excuses for inviting people over (remember though: people aren’t coming to visit you for your food or clean house…they are coming because of you. So don’t ever forgo an opportunity to invite people into your home. It’s always so worth it and most of the time way more fun on a moment’s notice) . You can use almost anything on top! Usually I use Robert Rothschild’s raspberry salsa (but didn’t have any on hand).  This time I used Stonewall Kitchen’s apple/jalapeno jelly, which is not hot at all despite its name. Trust me, I don’t like anything hot but this is fabulous! We set it out with crackers along with a couple of other yummy flavors–red pepper jelly & hot pepper jelly (again, none are too hot at all).

Elevate the cream cheese on a cake plate and it will instantly have more appeal! You can find some pretty & inexpensive cake plates at House Dressing. A few strawberries on the side add nice color.

Wheat Thins and Triscuits are really all you need.

Speaking of cake plates, I also put different jellies for our biscuits up on one for interest. My first thought was to transfer the jelly into little dishes but I decided it looked cute enough right in the jar up on the cake plate!

Don’t be jealous of our brunch entree… although how can you not be? By the way, my husband (aka “Mr. Confetti”) is our resident chef and cooked the whole thing! We have a waffle iron (which I’ve had for 20 years and use at least 5 times a week) that produces perfectly heart- shaped waffles, which as an bonus make a great presentation. His biscuits & gravy are the best in the south!

Whenever we have guests, I make a quick welcome sign on our kitchen chalkboard to make them feel extra special.

This product has made chalkboard life soooo much easier…soapstone chalk! It’s not as dark as regular chalk but you can draw fine lines with it and it has no dust. You can buy something similar on Amazon.

During winter I like to hang up the kids’ paper snowflakes for a little decoration. This is a giant one we all made last year.

I hope you’ll try mixing up red & pink this Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year! Just have fun with all the different pieces and it will come together for a beautiful presentation.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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