Arts, crafts, and all that jazz

Chai in Chennai Themed Brunch

It was only once I became a mom that I realized that most women, especially mothers, do not take much time for themselves. We are so preoccupied with taking care of our children, husbands, work and household matters, that we tend to place ourselves as a last priority. Out of this realization came a desire to change that, if only for a few hours a year. The idea for a Ladies Only brunch was born. Every spring and summer, it has become a tradition, that I host such a brunch. Each of the brunches has centered around a theme and I try to select a theme that will transport the guests, figuratively, to another place and time. Past themes have included Aloha Hawaii, Brunch in Beijing, and Paris in the Springtime. I recently saw a quote saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Meaning, we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Accordingly, speaking of cups, the theme I selected for this fall’s brunch was Chai in Chennai.

The crafter in me always gets excited about an upcoming party. However, I have learned that instead of doing a multitude of small projects, to focus my energies on a few projects that would make a larger impact on the ambiance or atmosphere of the brunch. My main project this time was the centerpiece decoration. When I think of Chennai, I think of bright bold color pairings, delicious dosas and idlis, the aroma of chai and spices, and motifs such as elephants, peacocks, etc. Ages ago, when Oprah had her 50th birthday bash, I was amazed at the decorations for her event. My eye was immediately drawn to the large centerpieces that appeared to be elephant topiaries covered in fresh flowers. I set out to do something along the same vein, albeit, with a much smaller budget.

Here is my take on an elephant topiary centerpiece. Click here for more details on how to make one of these centerpieces yourself, should you ever have the gumption! If you ever do attempt to make one, please do send me the photos as I would love to see them! If you are interested in the “Keep Calm and Drink Chai” gold foil print that is also in the photo, they are available on my Etsy page.

Elephant Topiary Centerpiece for a South Indian Chennai themed brunch

Elephant Topiary Centerpiece  and Gold Foil Framed Print

Here are a few of photos of the entire table spread.  The menu items included masala dosas, chicken tikka dosas, mini idlis, variety of puffs, fruit, delectable cookies, and of course, spiced chai.

Food items at the Chai in Chennai themed brunch

Food items at the Chai in Chennai themed brunch

The mini idlis were served in angled mini cups.  I adhered an elephant-shaped piece of cardstock paper to a long toothpick and skewered two mini idlis onto each toothpick.  Here is a closeup photo of the mini idlis.  If you want to easily make the paper elephant shapes, I recommend Martha Stewart’s elephant hole punch.

Mini idli appetizers

Mini idli appetizers

No chai-themed brunch would be complete without the main item — Chai! I served a traditional spiced masala chai in elegant cream and gold disposable tea cups.

Chai was served in elegant disposable cups.

Masala Chai

I made a banner, for my fireplace area, which featured a custom Craft Couture floral background reminiscent of a saree. You can download the free printable Chai in Chennai banner here.

Chai in Chennai Banner by Craft Couture Studios

Chai in Chennai Banner by Craft Couture Studios

To make my staircase look more festive, I added Kashmiri shawls in shades of turquoise and pink.  I tied a contrasting color sari ribbon to each of the shawls.

Staircase covered in shawls

Staircase covered in  colorful shawls

It has become a tradition that, at the end of each brunch, I lead the group in doing a craft activity.  For this particular brunch, in keeping with the Indian theme, we used wooden stamps to block print onto white tea towels.

Wooden stamp blocks

Wooden stamp blocks

Applying block prints onto tea towels

Applying block prints onto tea towels

Closeup of a block print creation

Closeup of a block printed tea towel

As you can see, it was a fun-filled brunch! I encourage you to try hosting a party of your own for your circle of friends!  Who knows, it may even end up being a tradition like my brunches have!


  1. Ramya Ramya
    October 30, 2015    

    Beautiful and very creative!!! How did you have time to make so many disges and set them up so elegantly!! Great concept. Thanks for sharing.

  2. April 24, 2016    

    How beautiful! All the love and effort you put into this brunch is shown in each picture. I don’t know what my favorite is….the elephant toothpick topper, the theme, the mini idlis….!

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