Thursday, May 14, 2015

Brunch Time!! How To Plan, Entertain and Decorate A One-of-A-Kind Buffet Brunch: Creating an AWESOME Graduation Party Celebration From A to Z!

    Congratulations Graduates of 2015!  You've worked hard and you deserve to celebrate!  I have a few graduates (I love you!) in my family this year that will be graduating from high school and college.  I am so happy to celebrate this special time with them!  I'll be celebrating my 35th High School Class Reunion myself this year, so I too, have a reason to celebrate ;-)!
Well, I'm planning a brunch buffet, by request! I do a lot of things but I'm not a caterer...LOL!!  So, when I offered my help with a Graduation Party, close friends of ours asked if I could help with the decorating and come up with a menu for a graduation celebration they are hosting for their daughter! With so many other expenses, they emphasized that they are working within a budget they had set for the entertainment portion, so with that said, right away, I knew that having a buffet brunch was best and I had the perfect idea for the décor!
Their color theme for the party is yellow, teal, gold and white (Love it!!!), so I themed their brunch as "Summer Sunny Side Up!" I am also creating décor for each table that will work double duty as a centerpiece and table tags (you will love this idea!!)  Additionally, there will be a brunch menu at each table, displaying what will be served as the buffet. These handmade menus are less than $1.50 each to make and will look fantastic!  
Lastly, the tables will be adorned with white linen tablecloths, a bottle of sparkling cider in the center and tied to each bottle, will be beautiful gold and white helium balloons!
Here's the lowdown on how to create "my idea", for a budget-friendly buffet ,that completes everything from A to Z and that celebrates "your graduate", in a very special way!
Let's get started...
A.  How To Create the Menus, Graduation Caps, Framed Centerpieces & Table Tags: 
1.  Menu:  I used cardstock in two colors and gold & white vellum paper.  I cut one color of the cardstock into a square, a little larger than the other one.  Next, I cut the vellum paper into a 1 1/2 in width strip, the length of the larger cardstock square and glued it onto the larger piece of cardstock.  On the other color cardstock to be used for the smaller square, I printed the menu list.  After the list printed, I cut the list down to a smaller size square and cut slants on all four corners, to frame it out.  Lastly, glued the menu list on top of, both the vellum strip and the larger cardstock square.   That's it, my menu is done!  I repeated this process to make enough menus for each table.  
2.  Graduation Cap:  This is so simple to make.  Cut a 2x2x2x2 square out of cardstock paper, preferably the school colors.  Next, cut a 4 1/2 inch strip of the same colored cardstock.  Wrap the strip around and attach one end to the other.  Secure with a staple.  This will make a circle.  Next, take a piece of scotch tape and tape it to one side of the 2x2x2x2 square, leaving about a 1/2 inch of tape excess, on each side.  Now, attach the circle by sliding it through, the two excess tape pieces.  Lastly, secure the tape on each side by connecting both pieces to each other.  You did it!!  Make enough caps for each centerpiece.
3.  Framed Centerpiece and Table Tag:  Ok, now let's make the centerpieces & table tags.  Keeping with the color theme, I will use gold and white frames, similar in size but different shapes.  Here, I show you one frame that I am using and I embellished it with a gold beaded necklace.  I also placed the handmade graduation cap on the corner near the beads, for a pop effect!  Now, for a two-in-one idea that is golden!! Add a large letter or number to the center of the frame and this centerpiece now works as a table tag.  This letter or number will be used to identify each table, when its time for dinner.  I chose to use a large letter and was able to find the exact colors that I needed.  I absolutely love how this centerpiece came out!  Your local craft store will have everything you need to create these ideas.  Picture frames are in abundance at Marshalls, Home Goods or TJ Maxx and they are reasonably priced also.  Be daring and creative when choosing your frames!
B.  Like My Menu Choice?  Here's How To Make Exactly What I Will Make For This Event!
I chose menu foods that I thought would work for an AWESOME brunch!!  I knew that this couple and their family, loved seafood, so that allowed me to plan a perfect seafood menu.  I was also very conscious of any vegetarian guests that may be attending, so I included a Vegetable Lasagna on the menu with mushrooms, fresh sliced tomatoes, ricotta cheese, slice zucchini, eggplant and plenty of cheeses!  I can share my very own recipe for this.  Send me a comment and I'll email it to you :-)!  
The Salmon will be grilled to perfection in a small amount of olive oil. Make sure the skin gets crunchy ;-)! For a finishing touch, I always make this Yogurt Sauce I love, with plain yogurt, cilantro, thyme, lime juice, salt and pepper.  It's so good and light for any fish meal. 
The Shrimp and Cheese Grits is a favorite recipe I make from Bobby Flay's original.  I add old bay seasoning to mine, for that Maryland flavor! (Google Bobby Flays Shrimp & Grits for Recipe)
French Onion Soup, too easy to make this.  I get some fresh French bread from Wegmans, slice it in rounds for each bowl of soup or I use Wegmans fresh croutons, that they make daily.  Either will work.  Then, take a shortcut and buy a few cans of "good" French onion soup and add some thin slices of vidalia onions, to bulk it up.  Pour soup with onions in an oven safe soup bowl, add your bread round or croutons, top with either Provolone or Swiss cheese and pop those babies in the oven until the cheese has melted and soup topping is a bubbly, light brown in color...YUMMY!
For the Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Cheese Salad, OMG, I can't even take the credit for this awesome summer salad...LOL!    Please go to Ina Garten's site (Barefoot Contessa) and get the recipe for this.  The guests will love, love, love this salad.  It is that good!! 
Hot rolls are semi-made by purchasing a frozen bag from the grocery store (oh yea...keep it simple!).  Bake, as per the instructions and you can make Honey Butter very easily.  Another recipe that I got from the Barefoot Contessa (google it, for directions).  This is too easy to make too!! 
"Please" order a Graduation Cake with all the fillings and whipped cream icing because graduates just love to see their name and/or picture on a cake, especially during this special time :)!! 
The Lemonade-Watermelon Spritzer is ridiculously good and quick to make!  Here's the recipe and what you need (Courtesy of Redbook Magazine)....
6 lb. seedless watermelon, cut into 1-inch chunks (8 cups)
12 ounces frozen lemonade concentrate
12 ounces frozen pink lemonade concentrate
Seltzer water or club soda, chilled
Lime slice, for garnish. 
Puree watermelon, in batches, in blender until smooth.  Pour into a 2-quart pitcher.  Stir in lemonade concentrates until completely melted.  Cover;  refrigerate overnight.  When ready to serve, fill 10 oz. glasses with ice cubes and 1/2 cup of the watermelon mixture;  top with seltzer and garnish with lime slices. 
Hot Coffee, Hot Tea and Sparkling Water will also be served. 
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