Holiday food is not just the food on the holiday table. It is two weeks from Christmas and in many families and in many workplaces it is like one long holiday. Food is front and central in many places at this time of year. Make yours special.
Here are are some categories of holiday food to think about:
- Office food
- Cookie exchanges
- Food Gifts
- Hospitality Gifts to bring to a party
- Potluck food to bring to a party
- Foods for the stocking
- Foods for the holiday table.
Office food at the holidays can be overwhelming. From deli and cheese plates to commercial thank you baskets to homemade confections and baked goods, it can really pack on the pounds. The best thing to do is to make sure to keep a good list to write thank you notes, have a small sample of one or two treats, then cover the rest up and put it in the office fridge until the end of the day when the food can be taken home to someone’s hungry adolescent horde.
These take the advance planning of someone with an MBA. The key is a good freezer. The other key is a source of good freezer friendly cookie recipes. For example, anything based in shortbread is good, whereas meringue cookies are right out, unless they are baked same day and carefully transported. Remember that there is good gluten free flour that is widely available that will bake up just like regular wheat flour. You may not know who you are feeding, and you want to be inclusive.
The idea is this: You bake a good sized batch of cookies every couple days starting a couple weeks before Christmas. You freeze each batch. You do at least 3 types of cookies but 5 is better. You make sure to vary the flavors and form factors, so they will look interesting on a gift platter. On the day before the exchange, or whatever activity demands batches of festive cookies, you bring them out and arrange assorted cookies on said gift platter, making sure to package and decorate them well. Voila, now you know you could run at least a small company.
These have been addressed previously HERE.
When you are choosing your party outfit, chose your party gift. Some people call them hostess gifts. Think of it as an accessory to your outfit. It’s good form, breaks the ice, and makes everybody feel good right away at the front door.
If you are attending a potluck and are bringing a dish, it does NOT count as your hostess gift. Classic gifts are a wrapped bottle of wine or champagne, but can just as easily be Pellegrino, Perrier, or sparkling cider. Another route is cut flowers, but I myself prefer a live plant such as an orchid.
First rule is to ask the host what they would like you to bring, smile, say yes and do it. Second rule, is make an extra special version of whatever it is. Third rule: try to steer clear of common dietary intolerances. Fourth rule: make enough. Fifth rule: present it well. Sixth rule: observe standard food safety practices.
Foods for the stocking
Filling stockings is one of my favorite things to do. I bet if you thought about it, you could list the favorite treats of everyone in your family, and maybe a few of your friends. Think a bit more broadly and cover spices and condiments; then consider food related items like pretty toothpicks, and soon your “ foodie “ stockings will be overflowing. Here are some ideas: Hard candy in pretty small tins, actual high end natural cough drops, favorite gum, of course chocolates, but make sure they are not crushed, candy canes or licorice (but only if people actually like them), bottles of culinary extracts for cooking like vanilla or lemon, exotics like pomegranates, star fruit, cumquats, fancy nuts, and their nutcrackers. Capers, tiny jars of indian chili paste, colored peppercorns, teas, tea infusers, jams, and hot sauces. You get the idea. Just troll through a nice organic store and santa’s little helper will find lots of stocking sized treasures.
Foods for the holiday table
I have covered this a bit before, but the essence is this: Bring people together in a spirit of wonder, gratefulness and congeniality. If your cherry pie can help with this, by all means make it. As far as healthfulness is concerned, yes, there is a healthy hack to every traditional recipe. I would like to write a bit more about this, and so this will be my topic for next’s week’s Food Friday.
My best wishes to all the busy elves.