Whether you’re serving cocktails or mocktails this holiday season—it never hurts to have everything you’ll need on hand to make them look (and taste) fantastic. We spoke with one of our favorite blogging duos, Husbands That Cook, about what they stock up on before the festivities begin.

Premixed or custom? Depending on the size of your party, you can decide to make one custom cocktail or mix individual drinks for your guests. Typically, if the guest list falls under six, they’ll mix up custom cocktails for each person.

Some standard supplies to have on hand: To start building a bar setup, you’ll want to have a shaker, a bar spoon, a jigger, different-sized ice molds, and a variety of glasses. If you’re starting from nothing, here are a few essentials that will cover most drink requests: a martini glass with a stem, a short wide glass, and something tall and thin like a highball glass. You can never go wrong with cute cocktail picks either!

Dazzle with the details: You might remember their clever Courtly Check cocktail. The secret behind their innovative design is sprinkled activated charcoal. Using a plastic lid, they created a checkered stencil—and you can do the same! Simply punch or cut any shape, letter or pattern into a plastic lid and sprinkle on a powder finish. In addition to activated charcoal, you can try matcha or cinnamon.

Have herbs on hand: Not only will fresh herbs add a gorgeous green flourish to drinks, they add scent (which is a huge component of taste) and flavor too. Some favorites? Rosemary, basil, thyme or lavender.

Berry beautiful: A showstopping holiday garnish? Coat cranberries in sugar and skewer them on a pretty cocktail pick or a spring of rosemary. They look like they have a fresh layer of snow or frost on them and would be pretty paired with a simple champagne or a more complex cocktail.

Opt for real as opposed to artificial flavor: You think it might be easier to pick up a premade sugary cocktail mixer, but adding your own fresh fruits and juices will create such a richer flavor. If you don’t have room in your house for a juicer, fear not! Those metal hand juicers are a fast and easy way to do it without taking up a ton of counter space. Or if you’re short on time, stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods sell fresh juice you can use instead.

Skip maraschino for the real thing: Did you know you can buy jarred cherries instead of the bright red artificial version? They are a deep red, almost black color, offer up a truer cherry flavor, and would taste delicious mixed in an Old-Fashioned.

Make the ice look nice: Instead of water, you can freeze juice so it doesn’t dilute the drinks. Or for a fun decorative touch, freeze ice cubes with herbs or edible flowers inside. They’ll look lovely in a bin full of drinks or an ice bucket.

One of the most versatile mixers: Reed’s Ginger Beer. Its spicy ginger flavor allows it to mix with a variety of liquors. This brand is excellent quality too!

Don’t forget to rim your glass: While salt is a classic, get creative! You can use crushed graham crackers, peppermint, sugar or a spicy chili-lime salt. If you’re going to do a sweet rim, dip the edge of the glass into simple syrup. If you’re going more savory, rubbing the edge with citrus works too.

All images courtesy of Husbands That Cook.

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means you’ll need to make your list, check it twice, and then fill your cart with everything nice. This year, we’ve hand-picked our favorite and most thoughtful gifts (for under $300!) so you can breeze right through all of your Christmas shopping in one go-round.

1. Courtly Check Enamel Tea Kettle
Whether your friends are newbies or seasoned collectors, you can’t go wrong with the classic enamel kettle. It’s so chic, it even works as an unexpected vessel for fresh blooms.

2. Tango Decanter
The subtle hand-painted finish on this glass decanter—with teases of gold lustre and twirls of black-and-white lacquer—make it a welcome statement piece at any home bar.

3. Foxtrot Martini Glasses
No matter if they’re shaken or stirred, these whimsical painted glasses will make every martini a bit more fun and flirty. We recommend picking up four to complete a set.

4. Parchment Check Bangle Watch
A sleek departure from our iconic Courtly Check, this subtle and sophisticated timepiece will surely turn heads.

5. Courtly Check Wine Chiller
The wine lover in your life will endlessly appreciate this bold bottle chiller that was handmade in Aurora. If you want to take your gifting to the next level, wrap a bottle of bubbly alongside it.

6. Heirloom Cruet Set
Adorably mix-matched, these oil and vinegar cruets can do double and triple duty as wine flights and bud vases.

7. Courtyard Tote
If you need a tried-and-true gift in a pinch, turn to this year-round staple that can store absolutely everything she needs.

8. Courtly Check Cheese Course
Gilded with a filigree handle and glitzy gold edge, this traditional ceramic tray is ideal for fancy cheeses, hors d’oeuvres, and dainty desserts—which means it’s perfect for the hostess who likes to pull out all the stops.

9. Nesting Chicken Cookbook Stand
The antique look of this cast-aluminum book stand is an essential for avid cooks and even rare book collectors looking to show off their latest finds.

10. Dotty Robe
Made from ultra-cozy cotton, this luxurious robe gives the gift of endless spa vibes. Plus, the pattern is irresistibly playful.

Sometimes it’s not the big-ticket items but those thoughtful “little somethings” that are hardest to ace during the holidays. Luckily, we’ve got great ideas—plus smart ways to personalize them—that will be a hit with everyone on your list, from cozy socks to chic umbrellas and everything in between.

1. Evergreen Travel Cup
For the girl that’s always on the go, a festive morning mug will make the season much brighter. Add a little something extra by including a pound of her favorite brew or tea blend in this gift bag.

2. and 3. Daisy and Poppy Tea Towels
Bright and bold, these floral tea towels are virtually a work of art. Pair them together—and perhaps with a set of black and white pot holders—for an unexpected but stunning pop of contrasting colors.

4. Courtly Check Moose Candlesticks
It’s tiny touches like these endearing, gold-accented moose that make entertaining fun and memorable. Pick up a set of taper candles to polish off the monochromatic-meets-metallic look, and your favorite host will be quite content.

5. Courtly Check Travel Umbrella
Brighten your bestie’s rainy days with this compact umbrella in our timeless Courtly Check print trimmed with brilliant chartreuse. It’s so sharp, it suits any outfit and will easily fold into her purse.

6. Hoot Owl Bottle Stopper
Bring your bar cart to life with this adorable owl bottle stopper. Be sure to pick up your friend’s favorite bottle of vino to go with it—or marry it with the rest of the animal collection, like the checkered moose and crow.

7. Highland Nutcracker Tool
This iconic Christmas character is not only useful but he’s also the perfect decorative addition to a holiday spread with his iconic uniform and colors.

8. Gold and Silver Beaded Bracelets
Metallic glass seed beads make for one very elegant set of arm candy with gold-plated logo tags. Gift them individually, as a thoughtful gift to a group of friends, or keep them together to stack boldly on one wrist.

9. Everything Roses and Wild Rose Ankle Socks
Once that icy winter cold hits, it’s time to break out the plush robes and warm socks. Pick up a few pairs to mix and match the bold floral patterns and gift them in bundles. (Pro tip: The cotton blend is so soft, you’ll probably want a pair for yourself, too.)

There’s something that’s so cozy and calming about Thanksgiving—the gathering of loved ones, some serious comfort food, and traditions that help us feel connected to family and friends. So it should be no surprise that our creative director, Rebecca Proctor, is a whiz when it comes to hosting. Here are some of her favorite tips and tricks—and a peek into how her family celebrates the holiday.

“Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday because the focus is on four very important things: gratitude, family, friends, and food. And what could be more important? Here’s my fairly straightforward approach, which I’ve refined from year to year, for making this day special,” says Rebecca.

Get organized. “We have a tiny home, so space is always at a premium. I’m also a compulsive tidier, so everything must have its place (that’s an understatement—my spices are in alphabetical order). Thanksgiving dinner requires a lot of prep with the menu plan, setting the table, and all the details that go with it, so being organized is the secret to a successful day. Planning is everything.”

Menu creativity. “How do I say this delicately? Some members of my family don’t like turkey! My husband is a vegetarian, so I’m challenged each year to come up with a menu that everyone will enjoy. And yes, we always have a turkey. What is better than turkey, stuffing, and cranberry chutney combined together on one fork?”

Timing is also key. “I cook in advance of the big day to reduce last-minute stress. It allows me to spend time with my guests the day of, too.”

Set an extra place at the table. “At our house, this seat always seems to get filled. And by all means set a beautiful table! Think of setting the table as an expression of creativity and get into it—it’s best to do this the day before so you can add in last-minute details that you always think of as you’re going to sleep.”

Have take-out containers on hand to send leftovers home with guests. “This little extra package at the end of the evening is met with great delight by all my departing guests. I tie the bundles up with pretty baker’s string and send them on their way.”

Stock and style your bar. “Fresh flowers are a must.  Our Courtly Check Enamel Wine Cooler anchors your statement and basically says, ‘Let the party begin!’”

Music! “Our son is a college freshman this year, and we expect a few of his friends to join us. The more the merrier! He, my husband, and many of our family members and friends are musicians, so the day is filled with lots of music and cheer.”

Remember the reason for the day. “Ask everyone to share one thing they are grateful for and then have a toast.”

Since we’re all about traditions at MacKenzie-Childs, here’s how some of our other employees spend their Turkey Day:

“Because my job is taking care of living things (plants, flowers, trees, and animals), my department doesn’t get days off. So seven days a week, holidays included, one of us is here. I’ve always covered the Thanksgiving holiday, so my annual tradition is to come in and take a walk around the campus with Simon, our resident goose mascot. It’s a nice way to work off all that turkey, and she seems to really love wandering around the grounds, just the two of us!” – Corinne B.

“After we sit down at the table and before we eat dinner, we will go around the table and each say something that we are thankful for. Whether it’s health, wealth, happiness, or a new pair of boots, it’s a nice way to show gratitude!” – Lacey R.

“My Thanksgiving tradition is putting up outdoor Christmas lights! While my mom and sister handle the cooking, I’ve always been outside, initially with my dad and now with my brother-in-law, putting up the lights so we can flip the switch as we sit down to a beautiful meal with friends and family. I have a strong preference for white lights, though there is always one tree with the multicolored old-fashioned bulbs. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!” – Tammy D.

“My husband’s mom always cooks a special breakfast (she has a different one for every holiday…for Thanksgiving, it’s meat pies), and she usually uses MacKenzie-Childs pieces we’ve given her in the past, especially her ceramic fish dish and her White Flower Market Butter Box. Then we drive to my parents’ house, where we actually go out for Thanksgiving, but the next day we begin putting up the Christmas decorations. Our favorite? The MacKenzie-Childs tree topper I gave my parents a few years ago.” – Andrea E.

“My little guy, Cash, and I make pumpkin bread the day before Thanksgiving so that when our guests wake up they have a yummy breakfast option.” – Ali K.

“Growing up, Thanksgiving was always the holiday we celebrated at our house with the whole family. My aunt had Christmas, and my Yia Yia had the most important ‘Greek Easter.’ No matter what holiday it was, however, it was Yia Yia’s meatballs that stole the show. Turkey? Meh…my brother and cousins and I piled our plates so high with meatballs that she used to have to bring two stockpots full of them to our house. If she were alive today, those would be our Courtly Check seven-quart stockpots!” – Mark B.

There’s really no holiday that’s more anchored by food than Thanksgiving. From the light bites to the sweet ending, every host wants to pull out all the stops for their friends and family. Of course, the most important dish of all is the glorious turkey that you’ll need to prep, dress, roast, and carve. It’s a huge undertaking for any cook, which is why we dug for the absolute best advice, tried-and-true tips, and surprising mistakes to avoid so that you’ll be guaranteed a perfectly browned bird on the big day.

1. Choose your bird wisely.
When picking out the bird, be sure to calculate properly. As a general rule, plan to buy at least two pounds for every guest if you consider yourselves big eaters and would like leftovers. If you don’t feel like storing any extra food or consider yourselves light eaters, multiple by 1.5 pounds per person. Butterball has a handy calculator on its website if you need additional help figuring out just the right formula for your family.

2. Never underestimate the thaw.
Once you’ve brought home your bird, make note of which day it needs to come out of the freezer. The easiest route is refrigerator thawing, which simply means you can place the packaged turkey in the fridge. This takes one day for every four pounds, so a 24-pound bird requires six days on the bottom rack of your fridge. If you’d prefer to let it thaw in cold water, keep the fully wrapped bird submerged and change the water in your sink every 30 minutes. Since you’ll need to continue this process for 30 minutes per pound, this is probably best for smaller roasts. What’s more, you’ll need at least an hour for your bird to come to room temperature before you place it in the oven.

3. Put down the butter.
Though some sing the praises of smothering their turkeys in churned cream, the milk solids in butter can actually burn and ruin your chances of crisping up the skin to just the right Maillard brown. Instead, simply dress your bird by brushing on canola or vegetable oil (plus bit of salt and pepper—and whichever herbs you prefer), and we promise you’ll be satisfied with the crispy skin when it’s done.

4. Always use a rack.
Using a roasting rack will prevent the bottom of your turkey from steaming and sticking to your pan. If you don’t already have one, pick one up now. In a pinch, you can always place a layer of whole carrots and celery beneath your bird to help elevate it.

5. Forget basting.
After testing countless birds over generations, the experts at Butterball all agree and preach the importance of keeping the oven door closed. Sealing in the heat and keeping the temperature consistent is priceless when you’re cooking up the most important meal of the year. Continually opening the door to pour juice over the roast will only waste time and energy—the bird will stay moist if you simply place a tent of foil over the breast after it’s been cooking for about two-thirds of its total time, The Kitchn reports. Otherwise, leave it alone until you need to check for doneness.

6. Trust your meat thermometer.
Your grandmother probably swears by wiggling the drumstick or checking the juice colors to decide if her roasts are done, but there is truly only one way to tell. Even counting the hours isn’t a guarantee (although the 15-minutes-per-pound rule can be very helpful). Essentially, you should never ignore the meat thermometer. Turkeys must read 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh and 170 degrees in the breast before serving. And if you’ve stuffed the bird, be sure that the dressing clocks in at 165 degrees. Don’t trust those poppers, either!

7. Always let it rest.
Just like a fine cut of steak, you want to let your turkey rest for at least 20 or 30 minutes before you dig in and start carving. This will allow all of its juices to evenly redistribute and keep the entire roast moist and cooked to perfection, the New York Times advises. While you wait, cover the whole pan in foil and ignore it until your timer dings.

8. Never carve at the table.
While it’s tempting to place your perfectly cooked turkey on the table to complete your holiday mise en scène, resist the temptation. Avoid any embarrassment, mess, and stress by carving in the kitchen on a hefty cutting board. Here’s your plan of attack: Remove the wishbone and carve down one side of the breast bone, cutting the breast against the grain. Remove one leg where it attaches to the body and cut off the drumstick, then carve the thigh meat before arranging everything on a pretty serving platter.

Whether it’s a holiday dinner or a party, it’s always nice to show up with a little something for the host or hostess—especially when they’re hosting you for a few days or a weekend if you’re traveling. Party planning or hosting can be a lot of work! So these gifts are the perfect way to say “thanks for having me.” You’ll be on the short list to get invited back next year!

1.Kitchen Garden Dish Towels + a loaf of fresh bread
Wrap up a boule or baguette with these charming garden towels. Finish it off by tying them together with a simple ribbon or decorative string and a sprig of herbs.

2.Piccadilly Pie Dish + a homemade pie
Yum! Bake your blue-ribbon-winning pie in this gorgeous pie dish. Once it gets gobbled up, they’ll have this hand-painted piece for years to come.

3. Houndstooth Throw in Rose + a favorite movie
Draped over an armchair or placed on a cozy couch, curling up with this incredibly soft throw blanket and a movie is a nice way to unwind when guests head home.

4. Check and Stripe Taper Candles + a beautiful box of matches
For someone who loves to host dinners, there’s no more useful gift than a set of beautiful dinner candles. The black, white, and gold color palette will pair nicely with any and every color scheme they can dream up.

5. Parchment Check Enamel Mug + ground coffee or tea
No one will ever say no to a little caffeine boost! This pairing is a beautiful gesture that encourages a relaxing ritual every morning.

6. Dotty Cheese Knives + a wedge of cheese
Encourage your host to dive right into to a delicious Brie or Camembert. These tools are pretty enough to earn their place on every future cheeseboard that your favorite host creates.

7. Moose Bottle Stopper + a bottle of wine
This combination is as classic as peanut butter and jelly. Gifting a bottle of wine with a stopper only encourages your host to pop it open as soon as possible.

8. Flower Market Small Pedestal Platter + homemade cookies
Pile this pretty platter high with a delicious batch of cookies. Once the sweets get eaten, this stand can hold so much more than just cake. There’s no limit for the creative uses any hostess will find for it.

9. Courtly Check Enamel Frame + a family photo
Instead of sticking with the stock image inside the frame, get a favorite photo of the family printed and place it inside. Whether it’s the host and hostess, their whole family, or just their kids or pets—they’re sure to appreciate this sentimental surprise.

November kicks off the holiday season, and you know what that means! Besides a flurry of party invites, delicious dinners, and decorating…it means guests. Friends and family travel from far-flung locales to see you for the holiday season. And as a way to reward them for their journey, you want to make them feel cozy and at home during their visit. Here are a few tips to make sure they’ll never want to leave—which could be dangerous, so use caution:

1. Place chocolates on the pillow. Sure, it’s something that you see in fancy hotels, but why not let your guests end the night on a sweet note too? It’s a thoughtful, added touch that makes them feel so special. Place the chocolate on a small tray with a piece of greenery or tiny bloom. Bonus points if you leave a really fancy piece of chocolate! Yum!

2. Have extra products on hand. You know those tiny bottles of travel toothpaste or lotion you get in hotels or as samples? Hang on to them and store them all in a large glass container in your guest room. It’s nice to have the essentials on hand and at the ready in case someone forgets something. So instead of having to run to the store at all hours of the night (like at bedtime when there’s no toothpaste!), guests can help themselves.

3. Leave them some reading material. A favorite book, a few magazines, the newspaper—it’s nice for guests to have something to read before bed in case they’re having trouble drifting off to sleep. Try your best, if you do leave a magazine or newspaper, to keep it as current as possible. It’s awful to read something or see a product you want only to realize it was in last year’s holiday issue of Family Circle.

4. Accent with fresh flowers. A vase of fresh wildflowers costs virtually nothing but does so much to brighten up a room! Pick a bunch outside or even gather greens from your yard and place them inside a beautiful vessel. That touch of life not only smells lovely, but it adds some cheer to the nightstand.

5. Fill a hot water bottle. There’s nothing like putting cold feet into a warm, cozy bed—especially if your guest room isn’t carpeted. One of the most clever ways? Sending a guest to their room with a hot water bottle. Tucked between the sheets of the bed while your guest is brushing their teeth; it will do wonders to warm things up. And it’s even better when your hot water bottle is as cute as this sweet duck-shaped version that resides in the MacKenzie-Childs Farmhouse.

6. Leave some extra blankets. Whether a guest room is drafty or not, it’s always nice to leave some blankets either at the end of the bed or in a basket in the room. You never know if someone runs hot or cold. This way they’re covered in case they forget to ask before bed!

7. Leave breakfast fixings and coffee/tea out. People always tell their guests to make themselves at home, but it’s hard to do so when you don’t know where everything belongs. Setting up a little coffee/tea bar lets guests get a jump on the morning if they’re up before you. Put out all of the essentials like sugar, tea bags, coffee, and mugs. In the fridge, make sure the milk is visible. Also, small containers of yogurt and freshly cut fruit are nice to have for guests to help themselves to as well.

8. Leave a little guestbook. Yeah, we know, it’s something usually reserved for B&Bs, but it’s sort of fun to have a notebook ready for guests to write a sweet little note in. It can be nice to reminisce on after a few years!

Enjoy your visit!

And we’re sharing some of our favorite seasonal decorating ideas that you might have spotted in our most recent catalogs. Some are spooky, some are sweet, and some are even versatile enough to stick around until Thanksgiving! We love to celebrate the holidays, so here are just a few of our favorite ways to get into the spirit:

Monogrammed magic: Add initials, your last name or a playful phrase to a pretty pumpkin. Simply sketch or stencil it onto the surface. Using craft paint, brush on a black base coat and let it dry. Then add a topcoat of gold paint. Layering the two colors adds a shadow and depth to the letters.

Dry ice tips and tricks: To create creeping tendrils of fog as a special effect, place a small piece or pellet of dry ice into a oversized vase, bowl or glass (you can usually get dry ice from the supermarket) and a pour little bit of warm water over it to create the fog. It’s a fun addition to a snack-table setup or a cocktail station. Add chunks as needed to keep it going, and keep the rest in a cooler until it’s needed.

Because dry ice is essentially frozen carbon dioxide and runs at about minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it can be dangerous if not handled properly. Keep away from kids and pets, and never touch it with bare skin. When handling it, use a towel and wear thick cloth or leather gloves.

Ombré arrangement: There are still ways to keep your pumpkins feeling festive—even if you don’t carve them. Grouping together several different types like Cheese, Sugar, Cinderella, Baby Blue, Lumina, and Fairytale pumpkins, and then arranging them by color, can create a jaw-dropping display. Place them on your front porch or any stairway.

Keeping them whole also means you can hang onto them longer, stretching out their lifespan to help decorate for Thanksgiving too. Want to add a scarier Halloween vibe? The bumpy, warty-looking varieties are seriously spooky.

Simple centerpiece: Make an impact with even the tiniest gourds. A collection of miniature white pumpkins looks pretty when painted with acrylic craft paint. To avoid a streaky finish, paint them with a foam brush instead of a bristled one. Choose a color palette or work with a range of colors in the same family for a stunning effect. Arrange them so they’re running down the table, with greens or candles placed between them for a little something extra.

Tip: Mini orange pumpkins are great! But the deep orange hue will be hard to cover easily with craft paint.

Happy Halloween!

Have you heard? We’ve opened a new location! The two-level store is tucked into the heart of Georgetown (1037 33rd Street NW) in a charming brick building. Oh, and you can’t miss us because we’ve decked out the front of the store with not only our name but also a painting of one of our iconic Courtly Check enamel kettles. In our tradition of working with the most creative artisans, we hired a street artist to create this custom graphic for our storefront.

The store will offer a completely new retail shopping experience, showcasing products on floating slabs, in both minimal and rustic settings, while featuring branded graphics on the interior of the store. “The store has a very modern feel, and you’ll notice how graphically driven it is,” says our director of stores, Alexandra Testa. “We wanted this location to be all about discovery and storytelling through deliberate product groupings, so you’ll find everything you’d need to create a personalized table setting in one area—from the dinner plates to the candles and serving pieces. We want people to play with the different combinations in real time.”

Start out on the first floor, where our everyday products will help turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. If you’re in the market for more luxe special occasion items, head up to the second floor. There will also be plenty of social media opportunities throughout, so get ready for your close-up! We’re encouraging guests to not only touch and arrange our products but to also snap a picture and share with friends and followers on their social accounts.

“We’re so excited to call Georgetown home for our very first experiential store,” says Creative Director and Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Proctor. “This store will feel very different than anything we’ve ever done. We’re looking to bring our unique designs and passion for entertaining to life. Our brand is about not taking yourself too seriously, mixing and matching, and celebrating fun and community. The store will convey that energy.”

And because we love you, we’re offering a gift with purchase for our Georgetown customers. Here’s what you need to do to get yours: Purchase eight tabletop items from the store, set up your own place setting and snap a picture, then post it to your social media accounts with the tag #MCGEORGETOWN. So go on—show off your superior hostess skills. We hope you love our newest store as much as we do!

If you haven’t noticed, we can’t resist a good party or meal. Food, family, and friends are meant to be celebrated, and we work hard to create serving pieces that add that something extra to every table setting. One of our favorite meals? Brunch! You get the best of both breakfast and lunch. Plus, it’s a nice meal to have guests over for because it’s a little more casual than a sit-down dinner. Here are some of our favorite tidbits to make it easy and delicious.

Make your own mimosa bar! Not only does it give guests a chance to mix up their drinks just the way they like them, but it makes it easier on you. Set out pitchers of different juices (orange, apple, cranberry, pear, grapefruit) and a few bottles of chilled champagne. The bright colors of the different juices make it a really beautiful sight! Or skip the bubbly and just have a juice bar instead. Swap in flavored seltzer to add a bit of carbonation.

Buy local and fresh. There’s something about a bouquet of local flowers from a farm stand, crusty baked bread from your local bakery or a friend, or fresh eggs from the farm down the road that adds that extra touch. Plus it lets you recommend your favorite local businesses to friends.

Bake your bacon. This method turns out to make much less of a mess and provides more even cooking/fat rendering. Plus you avoid those pesky burns from grease splatters, and you don’t have to spend your time watching it.

Be smart about how you use your space. Short on extra room? Think outside the house! If the weather is cool, set up a drink station on the porch. It acts as a refrigerator, and it’s no big a deal if something gets messy. Put out a citrus press and a bowl of grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons so people can make their own concoctions. Place glasses, mugs, champagne, a coffee carafe, milk, and sugar all in the same area.

Set up a buffet instead of a sit down. Use a sideboard or small table to set out plates, napkins, and utensils, etc. Be eclectic about what you put out. Use those inherited formal and everyday sets—don’t forget your favorite MacKenzie-Childs pieces! You’ll get plenty of compliments on all the beautiful china and pottery, and it’s a great conversation starter when you can tell people about the origins of the different pieces.

Choose some dishes you can make ahead. Some great brunch standbys are a quiche or a frittata bake. Quiches are easy to add to or mix in whatever you have on hand: meat, herbs, veggies or cheeses. Make them the night before, heat them slightly, and serve with light, lemony vinaigrette.

Try a BYOBB. Or a build-your-own bagel bar. Include a variety of bagels (seeded, cheese, herb, everything, fruit) and spreads, like homemade flavored cream cheese (start with regular cream cheese as a base, whipping in fresh herbs, veggies, spices, dried fruits). Have jams, apple butter, and peanut butter for a sweet take, with fresh fruit slices and toppings, like lox, capers, scallions, pickled onions/veggies, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts, avocado, hardboiled eggs, and cured meats.

Have some solid recipes on hand. Use tried-and-true recipes or get recommendations from friends. The last thing you want is to try something new and have it turn out badly. Here are some of our favorites: Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Spinach and Gruyere Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust, Crescent Bacon Breakfast Ring, Kentucky Benedictine Tea Sandwiches, and Blueberry Gingerbread.

Don’t forget a cheese platter. But give it a twist. Place slices of fresh bread and English muffins next to the toaster with cheese spreads, jams, and jellies—Stonewall Kitchen’s Garlic Onion Jam and Old Chatham Hudson Valley Camembert are both delicious.

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.