Remember that part on the 2014 bucket list about starting a new tradition? One of my goals this year is to start a few. Sunday Lunch is our first foray into Household-Tradition-Setting.
Sunday Lunch is a sacred tradition in the South, where I went to college. When I was in school, after church services, we would pile into cars and head to the house of some kind couple who had taken pity on the poor cafeteria-fed home-starved college students in the congregation and generously opened their doors. If pity and open doors were short that Sunday, we would head to McAlister’s Deli for soup and absurd quantities of sweet tea.
Fast-forward a few years. I moved to D.C. and starting attending a church that only met in the evenings and promptly forgot about Sunday lunches, those glamorous, relaxed affairs that were now only a vague memory. And then suddenly, things changed again. Mark and I found ourselves once again at a morning service. Home by 12:30, we would bask in the luxury of a long Sunday afternoon with no place to be. And suddenly one day it occurred to me. “Sunday Lunch! We can bring it back!”
And so we squeezed 8 people around our dining room table one Sunday and ate eggs and sausage and mimosas and cupcakes. It’s now officially my favorite way to have people over. It is low-stress because I don’t have time to fret or plan before people show up at our house immediately after church. It is less frantic than dinner because it is the middle of the day and nobody is actually dying of hunger.
It is relaxed because it’s Sunday afternoon and nobody has anywhere else to be. It gives me lots of room to be creative since there aren’t a lot of rules about what one can and can’t eat for a weekend lunch (carrot cake cupcakes, anyone?). Our Sunday lunch have been fun and cozy and full of ridiculous stories and lots of laughter. And now it’s a thing. Sunday Lunch is back.
Here’s some tips for hosting your own glamorous, relaxed Sunday lunch.
1.The goal of this endeavor is low stress. Relax. Nobody expects your house to be perfect on a weekend. They all know you were at church before lunch, not slaving in the kitchen. Your guests don’t expect a Baked Alaska or some complex homemade pastry. (True story: last weekend I fed my lunch guests half of a leftover lemon meringue pie. It was utterly consumed and nobody complained.)
2. Serve breakfast foods. Sausage, eggs, rolls . . these can be cooked and re-warmed quickly while you’re chatting and distracted. The cooking of eggs and sausage can also be easily delegated.
3. Share the love. Be willing to ask friends to contribute. Your guests will be happy to participate by bringing the fruit or the juice and your life will be easier.
4. Simplicity is the key to success. It’s lunch, not a 7-day feast. Don’t try to create 10 complicated courses. A simple salad, generous fruit, some yummy bread, some version of eggs, and cookies for dessert will set you up for success.
5. Make whatever you can ahead of time. I normally make the dessert on Saturday afternoon or evening. I also try to prepare the salad before we head out the door to church. If you are especially ambitious, cinnamon rolls or coffee-cake can easily be made Saturday evening and re-heated at lunch-time.
6. Delegate. As guests arrive, ask one to scramble the eggs (everyone is better at scrambling eggs than me anyway). Ask someone to set the table and someone else to toss the salad. Everyone will have fun assembling the meal together in the kitchen.
7. If you are limited on space or unless you have a lot of extra help, limit your numbers. Our table size limits us to between 2 and 6 guests in addition to Mark and me. Ask a few friends or two other couples over at a time. The small number of guests will make the atmosphere cozy. The beauty of Sunday Lunch is in the simplicity and ease. If a lot of guests stress you out, don’t feel guilty about limiting your numbers. It’s far better to host 2 people every weekend than to try to host 15 people one week while totally overwhelming yourself out of ever hosting Sunday lunch again.
8. Enjoy the process. At Sunday Lunch, half of the joy is in setting up and cooking together. Enjoy simply being together and don’t worry about rushing . . . . the afternoon is before you!
Be bold. Bring your own Sunday Lunch back. You won’t regret it.
Here is a list of a few recipes to get you started as you plan your first Sunday lunch:
- Apple Bran Muffins from Balance and Blueberries
- Coffee cake from Bona Vita
- Pasta Salad, a favorite of Yours Truly
- Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones from Joy the Baker
- Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen