Host of Food for Thought, food stylist, director, and blogger Claire Thomas has graced Rue Daily in the past to share her recipes and give us a peek into her home, but today she’s showcasing another talent- entertaining. Every Valentine’s Day, Claire celebrates those she loves- her girlfriends who always support her (and her cat Mochi). Thanks for joining us!

FROM CLAIRE: Roses and hearts and chocolates and diamonds and candlelight all make us think about romantic, alto-sax, hold-me-in-your-arms love. But wouldn’t it be great, if this one day of the year dedicated to love, was about Love, capital L? Sure, it might not be the most exciting or rapturous, but taking a day to celebrate the relationships that shape us the most can only be a good thing. So to celebrate this day all about L-O-V-E, I invited my favorite ladies over to celebrate our friendships the only way I know how: with carbohydrates and champagne!

A group of my favorite ladies came over, we made a fun DIY Flower Garland Wall Hanging, and I provided a few savory quiches and tarts and mimosa mix-ins, while everyone else brought the sparkling wine and desserts.

I wanted a manageable brunch where I could have fun with my friends, not running around like a maniac trying to be the perfect hostess. Being an excellent hostess means making sure your guests are comfortable and have a fabulous time with you. Here are my six tips to a fab Gal-entine’s Day brunch.

1. Choose the number of guests based on how much help you’re getting. Just you? No more than 10. You and a friend? 15 sounds fun. A third helper? Up the guest list to 20.

2. Stick to practiced favorites when it comes to the menu. Make things you know you’ll nail every time, not new recipes that you haven’t tried out before. You don’t need the stress of a kitchen failure marring your lovely party!

3. Choose dishes that you can make ahead of time and don’t have to reheat. For brunch, I stick to tarts, quiches, and salads. I can whip them up and then leave them out the whole time. Especially popular was this Roasted Yam and Kale Upside Down Tart with Pecorino.

4. Have your guests bring something. For my brunch, I had the guests bring sparkling wine and the dessert, so I could focus on a few dishes and the DIY. It freed me up in a big way, plus, sparkling wine can be expensive, so spreading it out over 10 people makes it less of a burden for everyone.

5. Pick an activity to focus the event. It can be a movie, a game, a theme, or in my case, a DIY activity. I’ve shared the full details on my blog of how to make your own Flower Garland, and there are some quick tips below to get you started. It’s the perfect backdrop for a photobooth to remember your fantastic bash!

DIY Flower Garland Wall Hanging:
Twine (no wider than 1mm)
1 pair of scissors
1 large twig or branch (about 4 long)
1 pair of pruners
1 set tapestry needles (with openings at least 1 mm wide)
Assorted flowers
1 hot glue gun + glue (optional)
Floral wire + wire cutters (optional)

1. Cut the twine into 2 to 5 foot sections.

2. Trim your flowers into small sprigs or single blossoms with an inch or two of stem.

3. There are two ways to make your garlands: The knot technique or the stacking technique:

For the knot technique, tie a double knot around the top section of the stem. Preferably under a set of leaves. Repeat tying flowers at equal intervals apart from each other. If you want them to overlap when hanging, tie the flowers closer together. For extra insurance, use a dollop of glue from a hot glue gun or wrap with a little floral wire around the knot. This will make sure the knot stays secure. Head over to The Kitchy Kitchen to learn the stacking technique.

4. Once you have made about 6 garlands, tie them to the twig or branch, about 6 inches apart.

5. Knot a length of twine at both ends of the twig or branch. Hang and enjoy!