12 Brunch Hours Etiquette

Brunch Hours Etiquette
Be punctual, wear casual attire, and be polite and respectful to the host and other guests. Avoid using your cell phone during the meal and overindulging in alcohol. Respond promptly to an invitation and say thank you.

1. Invitation Etiquette

When sending a brunch invitation, follow these tips:

  • Be clear about the event time, date, location, and dress code.
  • If you are hosting the brunch, let your guests know if they need to bring anything.
  • Send invitations out at least a week in advance so your guests have plenty of time to plan and RSVP.

When you receive a brunch invitation, respond promptly. You should RSVP within 24-48 hours of receiving the invitation. 

If you can’t attend the brunch, decline the invitation in a polite and timely manner. Offer a brief explanation for why you are unable to attend. Thank the host for the invitation and express regret that you won’t be able to make it.

2. Timing Is Key

Brunch takes place between breakfast and lunch, usually on weekends or holidays. Brunch hours vary depending on personal preferences and schedules, but generally, they occur late morning and early afternoon (11 am to 3 pm).

If you’re the host, consider your guest’s availability when choosing the ideal brunch hours. Consider the time required to prepare the food and set the table before the guests arrive. 

As a guest, plan ahead and leave enough time to travel to the brunch location. Being late is disrespectful to the host and can disrupt the meal’s flow. Communicate with the host if you are running late or unable to attend.

3. Dress The Part

Appropriate attire for a brunch gathering is smart casual or dressy casual. Consider the location, theme of the brunch, and the weather when deciding what to wear. 

Here are examples of appropriate and inappropriate attire:

Appropriate attire:

  • A sundress or a jumpsuit paired with sandals or flats
  • A skirt or trousers with a blouse or a dressy top paired with ballet flats or block heels
  • A blouse paired with cropped pants or jeans and sandals or loafers
  • A tailored shirt with comfortable jeans and sneakers
  • A T-shirt with shorts and sneakers

Inappropriate Attire:

  • Anything too revealing or tight-fitting, such as a mini skirt or a crop top
  • Athletic wear or workout clothes, such as yoga pants or sweatpants
  • Beachwear, such as swimsuits, swimshorts, or flip-flops
  • Anything too formal, such as a ball gown or a tuxedo suit

4. Dining Decorum

brunch table setting
brunch table setting

Proper table etiquette shows respect for the host, other guests, and the food. Here are some guidelines on how to hold and use utensils for a day brunch:

  • Before using any utensils, know where to place them. The fork goes on the left side of the plate, and the knife and spoon go on the right side. 
  • Hold the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right. 
  • Use the knife to cut your food.
  • If the brunch menu includes soup or cereal, use the spoon in your right hand to scoop it up and bring it to your mouth. 
  • Place the napkin on your lap before eating.

Learn more: American Style Dining vs. British Table Manner

5. Host And Guest Duties

buffet setting at a restaurant for brunch
Buffet setting at restaurant for brunch

Whether you’re the host or a guest, there are specific duties that you have to perform at a brunch gathering. These include:

Host’s Duties:

  • Prepare various dishes appropriate for a brunch gathering, like egg dishes and drinks such as coffee, tea, and orange juice.
  • Set the table with plates, utensils, napkins, and glasses.
  • Greet guests as they arrive and make introductions if necessary.
  • Serve the food and drinks, or set up a self-serve station like a buffet style.
  • Thank guests for coming and encourage them to stay as long as they like.

Guest’s Duties:

  • RSVP on time and inform the host of any dietary restrictions or allergies.
  • Offer to bring a dish or contribute to the meal in some way, if appropriate.
  • Arrive on time and with a gift.
  • Respect the host’s home and belongings, and clean up after yourself.
  • Thank the host for inviting you and for the delicious meal.

If the host asks you to bring a dish, clarify what they would like you to bring and how much. Choose an appropriate dish for the occasion and label it if it contains any allergens or is vegan.

If your host needs help with something, such as setting the table or preparing food, offering help is polite. However, do not insist if the host declines your offer. 

It’s proper brunch etiquette for guests to offer to help with cleaning up after the meal. If the host declines your offer, put away any dishes or utensils you used.  

6. Sip With Class

When drinking wine or alcohol at a brunch gathering, be mindful of the setting and the occasion. 

Here are some general tips on the etiquette for drinking alcohol at a brunch gathering:

  • Before drinking, observe other guests’ behavior and ensure you’re not disrupting the atmosphere.
  • Start with something light and easy to sip on. Mimosas, Bloody Marys, and Bellinis are popular brunch drinks, but remember, they can be pretty strong.
  • Overindulging in alcohol can quickly ruin a brunch gathering for everyone. Stick to a maximum of one or two drinks per hour, and eat plenty of food to help absorb the alcohol. 
  • Drinking alcohol at a brunch gathering doesn’t give you a free pass to be rude or inappropriate. Be polite and respectful to your fellow guests, and avoid any behavior that could make others uncomfortable.
  • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water to stay hydrated and avoid getting too intoxicated.

7. Catering To Dietary Needs

Accommodating dietary needs during brunch can be a challenging task. Here are some tips to help you navigate this situation:

  • Ask for dietary restrictions and preferences in advance. 
  • Ensure you have a range of dishes catering to different dietary needs, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. 
  • Label dishes with their ingredients to help guests identify which dishes are safe to eat. 
  • Avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils and preparation areas. 

8. Conversation Topics

Keep the conversation light and friendly. Some appropriate conversation topics for a brunch gathering include:

  • Everyone loves to talk about their favorite travel destinations, so this is always a great topic.
  • Brunch is all about food and drinks; you can discuss different recipes, cooking techniques, and restaurants to try.
  • You can ask your guests about their hobbies and interests and find common ground to discuss. 
  • Discuss current events that are not too controversial.

Avoid religious, political, and other controversial topics that may lead to arguments or hurt feelings. If you notice the conversation going in that direction, change the subject by asking a question or introducing a new topic.

To include all guests in the conversation, ensure everyone has a chance to speak. Ask open-ended questions that encourage people to share their thoughts and experiences. 

9. Technology Usage

Using gadgets should be kept to a minimum to avoid distraction from the social atmosphere. Avoid engaging in lengthy phone conversations.

Also, try and not scroll through social media feeds or check emails. If you need to use your phone or other devices, do so discreetly and quickly.

10 Tipping Etiquette

Tipping etiquette at a brunch gathering can vary depending on the situation and location. However, it is customary to tip between 15% to 20% of the total bill. Don’t tip using credit cards; use cash.

One common approach is for the host or hostess to cover the entire bill, including the gratuity. This happens when the brunch’s purpose is to celebrate a special occasion.

Guests may choose to split the bill evenly, including the tip. If this is the case, ensure everyone agrees on this method before ordering so there are no surprises when the bill arrives.

Another option is for each guest to pay for their meal, including the tip. This approach is common when the brunch gathering is casual or when everyone orders different items.

11. Gracious Gratitude

Expressing gratitude and saying thank you after brunch shows appreciation for the food and drink. Even if the brunch was a simple meal, it is still important to acknowledge the effort that has gone into preparing the meal.

Say thank you in person before leaving the event. You can do this individually or as a group, depending on the size of the gathering. You can also send a thank-you note or a small gift after the event.

Further reading: 12 Card Signing Etiquette for Multiple Occasions

12. Making An Exit

Leaving a brunch gathering can be delicate, as you want to show your appreciation to the host and say goodbye without being rude or disruptive. Here are some etiquette tips to consider:

  • Let the host know you’re leaving to show respect and gratitude for their hospitality.
  • Say goodbye to the other guests you were interacting with, especially if you won’t have another opportunity to do so.
  • When saying your goodbyes, keep them brief and to the point.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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