Preparing meals for company can be stressful and breakfast can be the hardest meal of the day. Breakfast is a time to wake up, have a cup of coffee and get a little break before the day begins. But when company is at your house it can feel like a giant chore. Here's are a few tips to make sure it goes smoothly.


1. Know When Everyone Is Waking UP


This is the single most important factor in making breakfast for company. If you are just planning on putting out some cereal and milk a “wake up when you feel like it” is fine, but if you're planning a hot breakfast you need to know what time to put it out. If you know your group, you can safely assume when everyone will be getting up, but if there are people you don't know well, or friends with children it can be difficult to figure out. The first night you are all together ask everyone when they plan on getting up, then plan to serve breakfast at a time which is convenient to the most people. If someone is a very late or early riser let them know where the cold cereal or bread is, but don't try to plan a meal around them. Chances are after they see the great meal they missed out on the first day they'll make time to eat with everyone else.


2. Plan One Or Two Big Dishes


Making eggs or pancakes for everyone in the morning sounds like a great idea, but unless you have a full size diner in your kitchen it can be a frustrating endeavor. Most kitchens just don't have the space to make that much food quickly and if they do you end up with dozens of dirty pots and pans. Instead plan a large, one dish item or two that can be made in the oven and brought to the table with a minimum of effort. There are thousands of recipes for breakfast casseroles, egg bakes and baked french toast that are easily prepared and made without much hassle.


3. Make It Self-serve


Having company is supposed to be a fun experience, not a chore. But if you've ever tried to serve a meal to a large group you can end up feeling like you've taken a second job in a restaurant. While some meals need to served at a big table, breakfast doesn't and making as much of it self-serve as possible will cut down on your workload. When you start making breakfast put out bagels, bread, butter and jam by the toaster so your guests can make toast the way they want it. Put out cream and sugar by the coffee. Make sure there are plates and cups at the appropriate places so no one has to go digging through your cabinets. Not only will this cut down on your work it will give your company something to do while they're waiting for your main dish to come out of the oven.


4. Do As Much As You Can The Night Before


If you are anything like most of us you're not at your best in the morning and anything that you can take care of the night before will make your workload in the morning that much less. If you are making a large oven dish prepare it and refrigerate it overnight so you can pop it in the oven as soon as you get up. Put all your dishes out and arrange any place settings you've planned on. Finally, make sure you have all of the items you need. If you are out of something you can run out and get it that night or if there is no time you wont be desperately searching for it when you are half asleep in the morning. A little prep work the night before will make everything run smoothly in the morning.


5. Keep It Simple


While it may be tempting to put your best foot forward for company, trying to do too much can be worse than doing too little. You don't need to have gourmet coffee, everyone's favorite jelly or a dozen types of bagels to make a good breakfast. Stick with plain, everyday items that will appeal to a broad group. Keep your big dishes basic, hearty fare. Everyone may not be in the mood for Jabenero egg casserole first thing in the morning. If someone has special dietary needs try to accommodate them, but know when to draw the line.


With a little prep work and planning ahead breakfast for company can be a painless endeavor and you can enjoy your day with friends instead of working in the kitchen.