Family Treasures and Traditions Inspired This Birmingham Easter Brunch

Party pros Ragan Cain and Mary Cox Brown bring out their favorite pieces for a stylish and nostalgic Easter brunch in Birmingham.

Outdoor Easter Party with Formal Table
“We are Easter people, and it’s an Easter house,” says Cain of her yellow Birmingham home, which was built in the 1950s. Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

When it comes to entertaining, friends Ragan Cain and Mary Cox Brown prove that two are better than one. For starters, this means double the creativity. "We play off each other," says Cain, who curates a timelessly cheerful mix on her blog, The Frances Flair (@thefrancesflair). "We love to put together over-the-top, outlandish things." It also means two divine collections of serveware, linens, and decor to pull from. "We both have a very strong appreciation for our histories and where we're from," says Brown, the florist behind Marigold Design (@marigolddesign). "We really embrace the things that have been handed down to us." Here, they share their signature moves for an Easter brunch overflowing with whimsy.

Yellow Wreath
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Design: Mary Cox Brown/Marigold Design; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Rethink Your Party Palette

"People either love yellow or can't handle it," says Brown. "We wanted to show everyone that it's beautiful and can be so elegant." She covered a 22-inch florist foam wreath form with moss and then tucked in stems of roses, Butterfly ranunculus, irises, and tiger lilies.

Shop Your Own Stash First

"Mary Cox and I are both big believers in using what you have, so that is what we did," says Cain of the place settings. "The silver flatware was my mother's pattern that she generously gave me when I got married, and I use it every day." The floral salad plates belonged to Cain's great-grandmother, but the napkin rings and place mats are newer pieces she's picked up along the way. Brown pulled from her family hand-me-downs too. The eggcups and some of the dinner plates—a discontinued pattern by Spode—were her great-uncle's. As for the other matching dinner plates, it was kismet. Brown found them at an estate sale that just happened to be for the previous owners of Cain's home.

Borrow Inspiration from the Backyard

Cain didn't have to go far for her unique place cards. "Those are eggs from the chickens in our yard," she notes. Her husband boiled them to avoid messes, and Grace Hall of Birmingham's Grace Calligraphy added the delicate lettering. Brown crafted their lush perches by planting wheatgrass in julep cups two weeks before the party.

Easter Party Painted Menu Card
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Include Artful Elements

The cheery menu, illustrated and hand-lettered by Laura Lines Calligraphy in Chattanooga, takes its color cues from the tablescape. The dishes listed are those Cain's family traditionally has for the Easter meal. The Julia Amory tablecloth recalls the season with playful florals.

Bloody Mary Wet Bar Setup
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Kathleen Varner

Serve a Signature Cocktail

Cain created a Bloody Mary setup in her jewel box of a wet bar, using her great-grandmother's instructions as her guide for the drink. "It wasn't until we cleaned out our old family home in Eufala in the early part of 2020 that I knew this recipe even existed," she recalls. "It's nothing grand, but because it was my great-grandmother's and is written in her handwriting, I've decided to make it for everything instead of just buying the Zing Zang mix." The rattan-wrapped pitcher and carafe are from Amanda Lindroth, and Cain's mother gave her the Waterford Lismore glasses. "The little Ginori 1735 egg was actually a gift from Mary Cox," she notes. "It lives in my kitchen and is very dear to me."

Dress Up the Dessert table

Nostalgia rules the sweets station, where the color scheme was inspired by the whimsical dining room wallpaper. Anchoring the table, a Publix cake frosted with a basket weave pattern is decorated with Whoppers Robin Eggs candies and a porcelain Herend bunny from Cain's collection. It's about coming up with creative ways to enjoy the things you have, says Brown. "People don't often think [about shifting their items around]," she says of incorporating collectibles into party decor. "They have a spot in their living room for a piece and don't ever move it from there. But just take it, and put it on your table for Easter!" Brown-and-pink striped cake stands by the Danish brand OYOY ground the lighthearted palette. Iced to match the brunch's pastel palette, sugar cookies from Homewood, Alabama's Postbox Sweets (@postboxbykat) make tasty parting gifts for the youngest guests.

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