Entertaining on Easter: Simple Hosting Tips and Three Sample Menus

Easter is upon us in three weeks, and it is a time when many of us open our homes to friends and family. I adore entertaining on this long weekend in April because it usually brings the first really warm weather and promises of spring.

Last year I had Danny scrub down the picnic table while I squeezed fresh orange juice and made a batch of doughnuts with Noah. We served brunch on the back patio in the morning sunshine – our first al fresco meal of the season. I hope to do the same this year, although there is still -literally- two feet of snow out there, frozen solid. Cross your fingers for me.

If you’re welcoming guests on Easter weekend – or any day, for that matter – then these instant entertaining tips are for you. I’m a big believer in details, and know that even small gestures can make a big difference when receiving guests.

Following the tips, I’m sharing three menu suggestions for Easter. Whether you are planning a brunch, casual lunch or sit down dinner, you’ll find inspiration from some of my favorite dishes for entertaining.

Ten Simple Ways to Instantly Be a Better Host

Now, granted these are minor details,  but that is the beauty of it – they are all completely doable. Your guests will leave knowing that they have been well cared for by an attentive host.

1. Greet guests. Yes, at the door. No, don’t send your six-year-old while you scramble around the kitchen. Your guests need to feel welcomed.
2. Start with a drink. Or at least offer one. Be it iced tea, Perrier, or a glass of wine, this is a great way to help guests feel at ease.
3. Add a seasonal decoration on the table. Keep it simple: spring flowers, seasonal fruit or vegetables, painted eggs, etc. Don’t over do it.
4. Warm plates. Keep oven at 150°F with your dinner plates inside until ready to serve. Hot plates will keep the food warm longer during the meal.
5. Change the butter dish. Please, guests don’t want to see your toast crumbs and streaks of jam. Keep the dish fresh and clean –and the butter soft.
6. Add ice. If drinks are meant to be chilled, see to it that they are.
7. Light candles. If appropriate. A sit-down evening meal, for example.
8. Assign seating. Verbally is fine, just before the meal begins. Or have the kids color place tags, but just don’t leave your guests to awkwardly place themselves. Telling them where to sit helps them to feel like they were planned for and appreciated.
9. Warm bread or buns. Ten minutes in a warm oven does wonders for the dinner rolls and makes them taste fresh. A nice crust doesn’t hurt either.
10. Keep room temperature comfortable. Dinner can be miserable if the floors are cold or the place is sweltering hot from the kitchen’s heat. Be aware of the room’s temperature (not just your own) and ask guests if they are comfortable.

Menu 1: Easter Brunch

Fruit takes center stage in this comforting breakfast menu, while bold flavors like mint, maple and cinnamon awaken the taste buds. The kids will grab a scone and their smoothie and disappear out into the garden, but grown-ups will linger over the last piece of homemade Easter bread and cups of coffee.

Photo by Tim Chin.

Menu 2: Easter Lunch

Can’t decide between brunch and lunch? This menu straddles the two, keeping things light with a fresh salad, roasted fillet of salmon, and a savory tart. My mother’s recipe for rhubarb cake rounds out the seasonal aspect of the menu.

This menu would also work well for a buffet. The salmon can be served cold and is lovey with a tartar sauce.

Photo by Elizabeth Nyland

Menu 3: Easter Dinner

Here a classic roast chicken is paired with a less-traditional side – baked leeks. An asparagus tart adds another seasonal green, while mashed potatoes and strawberry-rhubarb pie round out the comfort food factor.

Pot-Luck? Heading out for Easter?

If you are not entertaining on the long weekend, consider baking up a batch of these simple Easter cupcakes. They’re a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for people of all ages and easy enough for to make and decorate with children.

Recipe: Caramelized Onion, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tart

ingredients:

  • one 9-inch tart shell, chilled (half of this recipe for Rich Pie Crust)
  • 1 recipe caramelized onions
  • 1 cup crumbly goat cheese, (or sometimes I use garlic & herb Boursin, which is not goat, but cow)
  • 1 1/2 cups sautéed mushrooms of your choice

Photo by Tim Chin.

method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the tart shell with aluminum foil and fill half full with dried beans. Spread them around to cover the bottom. Bake tart shell for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to brown.
  2. Remove from oven and lift up the edges of foil to remove beans. Tart will still be slightly doughy on the bottom.
  3. Spread onions all over the bottom of the tart shell to cover. Add sautéed mushrooms and spread evenly over onions.
  4. Crumble cheese over the top of the tart. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the bottom crust is slightly golden.
  5. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Serves six.

Do ahead: The day before, make, roll and chill the tart dough and caramelize the onions.

Are you hosting an Easter event? What’s on the menu?

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Aimee,

    I love the idea of the caramelized onion and goat cheese tart, but no one here really eats mushrooms. I know switching that would change the whole recipe since there are so few ingredients, but is there something else you might recommend instead for a non-mushroom audience?

    Thanks!
    Two Chicks and a Hen’s last post: Finally- Signs of Spring!

  2. I’m entertaining at Easter for the first time ever! It’s just my parents coming down (they only live a couple of hours away) and I think my mom is more excited to eat on my new wedding china than to eat my cooking, but I’m still excited. I’m going to roast a leg of lamb with a garlic sauce. I think I’ll do an asparagus/mushroom side and probably some white beans and dinner rolls.

  3. These are 3 fabulous menus. Your pictures are terrific and i thank you for so may inspiring tips and recipes.
    Maris (In Good Taste)’s last post: Wine on Wednesday- Torbreck 2009 Woodcutter’s Shiraz

  4. I love Easter, too and these menus are just beautiful.
    Robyn | Add a Pinch’s last post: S’mores Cookies for Easter

  5. Wonderful tips on how to be a better hostess! I’m in love with that tart…a must-try!

  6. Funny that you mentioned the above recipe because I am making a “Caramelized Onion, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Pizza” for supper tonight. Great suggestions for an Easter brunch.

  7. Shelley R. says:

    It’s possible I may just loan some of the dinner ideas….
    We typically are guests at either my mom’s or my mother and father-in-law’s home, which consists of the typical Easter cuisine (which my kids tend to enjoy). However, last year, having a hankering to roast a local lamb I embarked on a formal meal saturated in Greek flavors a few weeks after Easter and invited some family over to partake. So, if you know you’re a guest for the holiday, don’t let it hinder you from hosting a formal dinner or spring brunch! I highly recommend any flavor adventure and there’s some great recipes right here!

  8. I enjoyed the tips on being a mindful hostess. :) Also, the tart sounds wonderful.

  9. Aimee, these are some great tips and some spectacular recipes. One trick I learned from my nan regarding the warming of plates – if your oven is full to the brim of stuff cooking, but your sink is empty, you can fill the sink with a few inches of hot water, and place clean plates in it. They’ll warm up just like they would in the oven, and you just need to give them a quick swipe with a clean dry towel or paper towel before serving. I still always prefer to use the oven, but in a pinch (like at Thankgiving, when the meal is typically leaning on the oven’s use heavily, it can save the day.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: SpicesInccom 6 Spice Set Giveaway

  10. Britanie says:

    I would love to entertain for Easter but alas I am moving that week.

  11. Lovely tips as always, but um- when is brunch served? The menus look wonderful!

  12. My parents are coming for Easter and we may invite some friends too. Thanks for all these wonderful ideas!
    Julia’s last post: Can We Celebrate Easter without Loads of Candy

  13. Great tips and beautiful menus! I honestly haven’t even thought about what we’ll do for Easter. We don’t live very close to family, and will probably be on our own this year. This post provides inspiration for me to get planning something special, be it only the 4 of us!

  14. Delicious! Thanks. We’ll be at my moms = no cooking for me (through a truce arranged in 1998), but I will use these recipes another time. :)

    Thanks for also bringing up my funnest Easter dinner memory – my girlfriends and I, single, post-college and poor, put on Easter dinner for our friends, but couldn’t afford a bunch of food. The theme was “bring your own cornish game hen.” It worked swimmingly. We had a lot of hens in the oven though! It was kind of funny. We would have been better off all chipping in for a roast or something.

  15. What a great collection of ideas for entertaining. And I’ll be crossing my fingers for you that you get beautiful weather for Easter and can enjoy your meal alfresco !
    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen’s last post: chocolate blueberry truffles a sweet surprise

  16. Great menu ideas, I hope that yo guys have a wonderful Easter :) I’m just going to follow your menu’s and eat all day.
    Tickled Red’s last post: Caramel Brownie Cheesecake

  17. All of these menus look just lovely! I too am a big believer in the details, I learned it from my mom. My hubby’s family doesn’t seem to ‘get’ it, but I really think people feel welcome when they attend a meal where the hostess has paid attention to the little ‘extras’. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be special. Today I was so excited because I stopped by a garage sale and scored several sets of vintage cloth napkins, napkin rings and place mats that will add a nice touch to every day as well as special occasions. Love it! :)
    Kassie’s last post: Bread Machine Success

  18. your tart is awsome !! must be a real delight
    a frog in the cottage’s last post: Tarte poires pochées Amaretto gianduja

  19. Beautiful menus and wonderful tips!

  20. Fantastic tips, Aimee, and I love the tips on being a better host. Great reminders coming into the spring and summertime entertaining season.
    Shaina’s last post: Eat Well- Spend Less- Menus and Meal Planning

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