Mother’s Day has become nearly synonymous with brunch. Maybe it’s the late spring weather, maybe it’s because none of us — least of all your mom — wants to deal with the crumbs of the proverbial breakfast in bed. But getting everyone changed out of their pajamas, with a mimosa or coffee in hand, by noon feels just as much a part of the holiday as flower bouquets and punny, heartfelt greeting cards.
This year, however, many of us are going to be celebrating Mother’s Day at home and far from the person we’re honoring. Even if we’re skipping the omelet bar this year, there are still ways to make the day feel special. We’ve enlisted the advice of experts — Courtney Whitmore of Pizzazzerie, Allison Carter of Allison Carter Celebrates and Sherry Brubaker of Backyard Bohemian — on their best tips for keeping it special while keeping it simple.
Mother’s Day brunch planning
If you’re quarantining with Mom or she’s part of your social bubble, then you have the luxury of hosting her in person. While over-the-top tablescapes are the stuff of Pinterest dreams, there’s no need to go all out when celebrating your mom this year. Both Carter and Whitmore recommend keeping it classic and clean with a mostly white tablescape.
“If you can, try to have four items: a linen, a centerpiece, dishes and a napkin,” says Carter. A white tablecloth is classic, but she also likes a colorful runner for a more casual vibe. Creating a centerpiece doesn’t have to be hard: the food you’re serving, some flowers or even some succulents that Mom can keep as a gift.
Then, stick with white plates and platters. Aside from a nice tray, a cake stand can be surprisingly versatile. You can arrange food on the cake stand and tuck flowers or greenery under it for an easy display, says Whitmore.
If you can’t make it to a florist, you can use fresh blooms or even greenery from your own yard — or check out our suggestions for flower and plant delivery services. You can even pick up some flowers at a local store and make your own arrangements; Carter recommends getting everything in the same color for a sophisticated, monochromatic effect.
Just because you’re not with the woman of honor in person doesn’t mean you can’t have brunch! Rather than just chatting on the phone for a bit, set up an actual Zoom or Google hangout brunch for the whole family. If you can, have an accomplice at her house set the table — keeping it classic and white will make that job easy. Send along a few add-ons, like a nice cake stand or flowers, to make it feel extra special. If your mom lives alone, you may have to get a bit more creative: You can bundle a runner and cake stand plus some greenery and ship it. If it has a long way to go, consider adding something like faux eucalyptus that will survive the journey and look great displayed in a vase later.
Mother’s Day brunch essentials
Stripe Runner - Sour Cream / Blue - Hearth & Hand with Magnolia ($17.99; target.com)
A runner allows your table to be visible for a more casual vibe. Carter tells us she currently has this one on her table for springtime.
Stoneware Oval Platter - Hearth & Hand with Magnolia ($19.99, target.com)
A white platter can be used at nearly every get-together and occasion. Shipping times and availability depend on your location, so using curbside pickup is a great option if you’re in a pinch. Typically, you can order online and then pick up your order within hours without ever having to get out of your car. Heck, bundle as many brunch supplies as you can from target.com and make your last-minute hustle a little less stressful!
Hearth & Hand 2-Tier Wood & Metal Cake Stand ($32.99; target.com)
Carter has two rules for setting a table: wood and white. She incorporates a bit of wood with this two-tiered cake stand.
Threshold Beaded Cake Stand ($19.99; target.com)
Cake stands may seem like a luxury item for serious bakers, but you can display food and even flowers on one. Whitmore likes this classic white cake stand.
Mini Trough Succulents ($54.99; 1800flowers.com)
Greenery can be just as festive as flowers. These succulents are a living gift that keeps on giving long after the party is over. Or, check out our guide to bouquet and plant delivery options for Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day brunch recipes
Once you’ve set the table, it’s time for the most important thing: food, of course! Rather than eggs Benedict or anything else fussy, we have two suggestions for no-cook, make-ahead options. After that, all you need is some good coffee and maybe a mimosa or two. If cinnamon rolls or a bagel platter aren’t exactly what you had in mind, we have a few other yummy brunch ideas for you.
Depending on where you live, baking supplies might still be hard to find on shelves. Whitmore has the perfect solution: cinnamon rolls made from crescent roll dough, which will feel more personal than cinnamon rolls from the tube, with only a little bit more effort. While her recipe, below, is for mini orange cinnamon rolls, you can play with it to make your own variations. Leave out the citrus for a more traditional breakfast roll or add other fillings like chocolate, for instance. You can also make these whatever size you want — mini, regular or jumbo.
Ingredients for the Cinnamon Crescent Rolls
- 2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls (sheets)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
Ingredients for the glaze
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
Without the ability to deliver them to your mom yourself, you have to get creative if you don’t want her to be cooking cinnamon rolls for herself on Mother’s Day.
Cinnabon® Classic Rolls ($49.99; harryanddavid.com)
Shipping cinnamon rolls may seem like a bit of an impossibility, but thankfully the geniuses at Harry & David have figured out how to make it work. You can get a box of rolls sent overnight and even throw in some coffee to go with it.
Wilton Ultra Bake Professional 24 Cup Nonstick Mini Muffin Pan ($8.99; target.com)
If you make mini cinnamon rolls, you’ll want to bake them in a mini muffin tin so they’ll keep their shape. This cult-favorite pan is also great for mini cupcakes and brownie bites.
Pyrex 6pc Bake and Store Set ($18.44, originally $20.49; target.com)
If you want to make full-sized cinnamon rolls, a 9-by-13-inch pan is what you need. This editor favorite comes with three glass baking dishes of various sizes — including a 9-by-13-inch — and coordinating lids, making it easy to prep and store the night before.
The savory versus sweet brunch debate may never be settled, but there really is no wrong answer. This bagel platter — a clever play on the cheese plate, from Brubaker of Backyard Bohemian — is great on its own or alongside cinnamon rolls. It’s virtually no-cook and makes takeout from your local bagel place feel more special. Plus, the bagel platter is a show-stopping centerpiece on its own (and looks lovely on a clean white tray). No local bagel place? Order them online — or make them yourself using one of the many recipes available across the internet — and grab additional accompaniments, like cucumbers, capers, avocado and tomatoes, at the store.
Ingredients for the Lox & Bagel Platter
- 6 assorted bagels
- 12 ounces smoked salmon
- Cucumber sliced thin
- 6 fried eggs
- 2 jalapeño peppers
- Heirloom tomatoes
- Broccoli sprouts
- Beet sauerkraut
- Fresh dill
- Fresh cilantro
- Lemon wedges
- Seafood dip
Ingredients for chive cream cheese
- 8-ounce package of cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons chives, finely chopped
Ingredients for jalapeño and cilantro cream cheese
- 8-ounce package of cream cheese
- 1 jalapeño, finely chopped, seeds and ribs removed
- 2 tablespoons cilantro
Homesick New Yorkers created a demand for bagels shipped across the country long before social distancing started. Wolferman’s Bakery sells a bagel assortment straight from New York that can be shipped with (nearly) a whole spread, including lox and cream cheese.
Wolferman’s Bakery Davidovich Bakery New York Bagel Assortment ($34.99; wolfermans.com)
If you aren’t sure which type of bagel is her favorite — or she loves them all — this is the assortment for her. It comes straight from New York with cream cheese to schmear.
Wolferman’s Bakery Everything Bagels with Lox and Cream Cheese Assortment ($49.99; wolfermans.com)
Send her the whole kit and caboodle. She’ll get five everything bagels from New York’s Davidovich Bakery, along with 8-ounce packages of cold-smoked salmon and cream cheese. Sadly, this isn’t available to arrive in time for Mother’s Day this year — it won’t ship until June 2. If you have your heart set on this premade spread, host a small coffee talk on Mother’s Day and schedule a bigger brunch further down the road when the bagel buffet will definitely arrive.
Hometown Bagel Knife ($19.94; amazon.com)
We love this handy-dandy knife that lets you quickly and easily slice through New York-style bagels to make a pretty platter in no time. Just note that it is not designed for mini-bagels, and it won’t be helpful in cutting those evenly, because they’re too thin. It is, however, wide enough to cut sandwich rolls, hamburger buns and other larger baked goods, in addition to real New York style bagels. We also love the Tablecraft FirmGrip Bagel Knife ($12.99; amazon.com) but it’s not available to ship in time for Mother’s Day brunch.
Bagel Biter ($21.99; bedbthandbeyond.com)
Brubaker is also into the surprisingly effective (and fun!) bagel guillotine.
If you’re hosting a long-distance brunch, think of other small touches: Can siblings and other guests also grab a bagel or cinnamon roll so everyone feels a bit more together? If your mom isn’t tech-savvy, offer to do a trial run on Zoom or Hangouts the day before. And rather than just mailing a gift online, look for subscriptions or Mother’s Day bundle sets so the present feels more curated and less like a few items arriving piecemeal. Cratejoy has subscription boxes for every kind of mom, with plenty of options to keep her busy during social distancing. Whatever kind of brunch you pull off, however, the same rule applies as when you were burning toast as an 8-year-old on Mother’s Day: It’s the togetherness (OK, and maybe the mimosas) that counts.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed price at the time of publication.