DIY Mother’s Day Brunch: Reservations are for suckers

With your first macaroni necklace as a kid, you learned a valuable lesson: When it comes to gifts for Mom (and, perhaps, only Mom), it’s the thought that counts. But this Mother’s Day, let’s make sure the thought is something that mom would actually like even if you weren’t her precious baby.

Mother’s Day weekend is not just Mother’s Day weekend. It also happens to be graduation weekend for several schools, including VCU. And of course, it’s also a warm, sunny weekend in May. That all adds up to busy brunches, packed with people waiting for their ladle full of hollandaise like little baby birds. If you don’t already have brunch reservations somewhere great at this point, you may well find yourself on the losing end of a “should we wait here or go somewhere else” debacle that ends in hangry real talk among loved ones. No one wants that.

And while I advocate brunching out on almost any other occasion, for Mother’s Day, I say, do your own brunch! It doesn’t have to be a stressful ordeal and can, in fact, be relatively pain-free if you do even a minimal amount of advance planning. And if advance planning isn’t your thing, you can just throw a poached egg on last night’s leftovers, and your mom will probably still love you. Probably.


“The most important part of this brunch is not you, running around the kitchen frantically, burning bacon, and resenting the rest of your family.”

You might be getting out of the whole “go out for brunch” thing, but you still need to push the fancy button for this important meal. This lady gave you life (most likely), after all. Start with flowers. Nothing fancies up a table like tulips, but if you happen to know your mom’s favorite flower, now is the time to call upon that knowledge. She’ll be so touched.

Next, the beverages. You’ll need coffee and plenty of it, but let’s not forget what brunch is really all about–JUICES WITH BOOZE IN THEM. Obviously, mimosas are always great. (It’s a 9:1 champagne to juice ratio. Put it in a glass pitcher. Place some pint glasses, an ice bucket, and a few of those cute, chevron-striped straws in a vase next the pitcher. FANCY BUTTON.)

For the best Bloody Mary, pick one of these five local mixes, and then add…gin! James River Distillery’s Continental Gin would be just right for this kind of thing. Technically, a Bloody Martha, a gin bloody is a total upgrade that your mum will thank you for bringing into her life. And what’s a Bloody Martha, or Bloody Mary for that matter, without a big salad on top of it? It’s boring and sad and has no place at this brunch. Do not forget the edible garnish.


Celery, Olives on a toothpick

Your mom thinks you’re great! Remember that screenplay you wrote in high school? Your mom does. The picture of you on her desk is the same one you gave her in 1994. She likes what she likes, and she likes you.

Pickled Cauliflower

See above, plus she’s been to Italy.

Thai Beef Jerky

You’ve almost grown tired of people telling you how cool your mom is. Sure, she’s cool. She taught you how to play bass and clean a fish. She’s hiked the Appalachian Trail, twice. You’re pretty sure your mom is the reason you’ve been invited to several very hip parties.

Head-On Prawn

Every day, your mom packed the same lunch for you–a baguette with ham and dijon mustard, some grapes, and a bottle of Perrier. You’d come home from school to find her smoking cigarettes and putting on make-up in the dark. Still, she’s aged gracefully.

Vlassic Dill Pickle

You actually had to remind your mom that it’s Mother’s Day. You still live with her, and you were both up late watching Real Housewives and drinking box wine.

Now, bring it all together, and set a gorgeous table–patterned linens, cloth napkins, good china, a hand-written name card. Moms love that kind of thing. If you’ve got a doily on hand, you’re headed in the right direction!


The most important part of this brunch is not you, running around the kitchen frantically, burning bacon, and resenting the rest of your family. It’s eating and drinking together, at a nice, leisurely pace, befitting a proper holiday.

Enter baked eggs. You are holding your thumb down on the fancy button and not letting go right now. Who bakes an egg?! You, daughter/son-of-the-year, that’s who. Mom’s favorite, that’s who.

Pick the ingredients1 from the list below that you know your mom likes, put them in a ramekin with some eggs and cream, and let it all bake away while you toast some crusty bread and cut some fruit. Voila, it’s brunch time. You did it!

The thing to be careful of here is timing. Set a timer for seven minutes, and then look at the eggs. You want them to appear just slightly less done than you think you would want, more jiggle. They will continue to cook after being removed from the oven. You’re looking at 8-10 minutes in the oven, tops.

On to the next course–strawberries. Thankfully nature has done much of the heavy lifting here. All you need to do is stem them, wash them, halve them, and toss them in a little sugar (I use Splenda. Whatever, you don’t know me). Serve in little glass bowls with your dantiest spoons. Get the strawberries ready while the eggs bake, or if you doubt your ability to multi-task even in the slightest, do this step first!

“It’s just brunch. Tell your mom you love her and that you appreciate her putting up with you when you went through your juggalo phase.”

That’s it! It’s just brunch. Tell your mom you love her and that you appreciate her putting up with you when you went through your juggalo phase. Then, escort her to the parlor to enjoy a nice sit while you clean the kitchen.


Show your mom that you were paying attention all along by cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom. Leave it looking better than when you found it. But not so much better that she thinks you’re trying to make an issue of it.

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

  1. Sources: You can find most if not all of these ingredients (especially the eggs!) and the most gorgeous fresh flowers at the Saturday farmers market of your choice. Little House Green Grocery and Harvest Grocery + Supply also both have a ton of fresh, local produce on-hand right now, including some combination of ramps, asparagus, herbs, and strawberries; and they’ve also got several of the aforementioned Bloody Mary mixes to choose from. 
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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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