Mother's Day should be about something other than cooking a family dinner that will suit both Grandma's lacto-intolerance and your picky preschooler.
Sure, there's always the hope you'll find a spa gift certificate on your 6 a.m. breakfast-in-bed tray, somewhere between the macaroni necklace and the soggy corn flakes. Even so, a little grown-up celebration of your exhaustive maternal efforts is deserved.
That's why I hold a leave-the-kids-at-home Mother's Day lunch for my friends. Not on the actual "holiday," when we all have commitments, but before or after the official day. This year's event was last weekend.(view Brandie's Mother's Day Lunch gallery)
The parties are a chance to dress up and share cocktails and laughs while partners or babysitters look after the kids.
I started holding them after my first child was born and skipped only once – last year when I was grumpily pregnant and had a backyard full of bulldozers.
For my first party, I cooked almost everything myself. But each year since, I've taken my guests up on their generous offers to contribute. And of the stuff I supply, I purchase at least as many prepared foods as I cook.
It's been an important evolution, because the point is to relax and have fun. Just ridding the house of kid clutter the day before so guests aren't tripping on trucks and teething toys takes hours – and a great deal of play-date strategy.
So e-vite, email, text, or call your friends and throw yourselves the party you so richly deserve. There's still time, especially if you follow these easy steps:
Write a guest list. You'll see your mother-in-law soon enough, so guiltlessly stick to whoever you want to celebrate with. Say "yes" when they ask if they can help.
For a theme, go with whatever you have or can easily pull together. Because I had bird paraphernalia in my baby's nursery and elsewhere in the house, it was easy to gather it up for a tabletop display. Cherry branches forced inside, plus garden-themed decor, robin's egg blue candles, a bird platter and vase and pretty white cake trays from Write Impressions completed the look. Two "posy" bouquets from The Flower Room were the icing on the cake.
Choose easy foods. The spring setting suited a modern-but-ladylike brunch menu, which you can easily copy or adapt. The menu centred around a locally smoked Coho salmon from Kristapsons and quiche-like tarts from my local deli, plus easy munchies like cornichons, almonds and wasabi-flavoured peas. Friends supplied edamame, delicious homemade brioche, a veggie tray, gorgeous desserts and coffee. I splurged on great tea and served it in my grandmother's china. The food was served buffet style and everyone milled about with food on small square plates.
Set it all up the night before. My friend Kelly came over after the kids were in bed and helped me do the table, right down to the Post-it notes marking which foods would go on which platters. This seriously cut down on yelling the next morning and made it easier to balance last-minute prep with my kids' breakfast routine.
Serve pretty drinks. Sparkling wine cocktails are inexpensive and fun – and the champagne flutes set a celebratory mood. We mixed the wine with fresh-squeezed orange juice and grenadine to make mimosas, and with cassis to make kir royales. Because there's always a chance that someone is secretly pregnant at this sort of gathering, I also had San Pellegrino, sparkling orangeade and various juices on hand.
Think about child care. If it's not possible for everyone to leave her offspring at home, a babysitter can help ensure everyone gets a chance to socialize.
Don't think (or talk) about the children. It's easy to spend the entire time chatting about the kids, so tell your friends they're way too hot to be so boring and gently steer the conversation toward books, movies, the food crisis – anything that doesn't involve bodily functions.
Let people help clean up. As my neighbour Julie said, "I'll help. Hell, I don't want to go home." Mother’s Day