Gorgeous snacks in beautiful serveware are all you need to gild your tables this holiday season. Here are some food stylists' best tips and ideas.
Who doesn’t love fall and winter foliage—crisp and colorful leaves, pinecones, and berries all make magical centerpieces. But when it comes to topping your table with décor for the holidays, there’s another route we’d like to encourage you to take: DIY edible centerpieces.
While flowers and foliage are beautiful to look at, “an edible centerpiece is as much about being interactive as it is about making an impression,” explains food stylist Julia Choi. So, this year, “instead of making something that looks pretty but is not practical or delicious, try making something that guests will go nuts over. The chance to interact with your guests over delicious food is priceless.” And luckily, creating that centerpiece—and experience—doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are five edible centerpieces you can easily make this year.
1. Gather farmers’ market produce on a long, wooden platter. At any farmers’ market this season you’ll find colorful apples, oblong gourds, and miniature pumpkins. Buy fruits and vegetables, then grab a tray and top it with your haul, says Nadine Page, food stylist at HelloFresh. “Punctuate the big, bright, round shapes with some roasted nuts and an ornate nutcracker,” she instructs. Another easy item to add are concord grapes, a seasonal variety you can add to the platter or place—so they’re overflowing—in a footed bowl, Page says.
2. Stack some guimauves. Guimauves are French marshmallows made from sugar, egg whites, and gelatin, shaped into cubes or long, soft sticks. In other words, they’re not your typical marshmallow. They “look very elegant and elevated,” says Choi, who recommends stacking them on a decorative or crystal cake platter for a centerpiece. This “is also a great way to add a desired color to the table,” she says. “Pastel colors add an uplifting energy.”
3. Create a cheese board. “A beautifully arranged cheese board—one almost as long as the table—will wow the guests without a doubt,” says Choi. To create such a cheese board, you will need to gather five or six kinds of cheese, four or five types of meat, and several other items—think: figs, currants, champagne grapes, marcona almonds, olives, honey comb, and artisanal crackers, says Choi. But don’t stop there: top the board with “dried cornflowers, chamomile flowers, or rose petals,” by placing them on soft cheeses or in corners, Choi says.
4. Pack some pickles and olives. According to Page, “a great way to turn up the visual bounty without adding too much extra work is to get a little help from preserves. So, when you're shopping for your Thanksgiving groceries, grab some jars of colorful pickles and olives.” You can shop your favorite local makers, or grab-and-go at the grocery store. Then, “serve them in little bowls scattered around the table or make an extravagant multilevel display of them in the center,” suggests Page, who often creates her own edible centerpiece with olives. “For mine, I use tiny vessels made by a ceramicist,” she describes. “Just remember to include one empty one for olive pits, and one full of toothpicks for grabbing.”
5. Display a pumpkin soup. Is there anything that feels more fall than a pumpkin? In fact, there is: pumpkin soup served in a pumpkin. “When feeling bold and theatrical, you could buy a Cinderella pumpkin and hollow it out like a Jack 'o' Lantern—just no eyes or mouth this time!” says Page. Then, “use the hollowed pumpkin as a vessel for any pureed squash soup of your liking.” We love this recipe for pumpkin soup. When you set out the pumpkin, “serve it on a big wooden cutting board and be sure to find a ladle of a suitable size,” Page says. And be sure to “stack soup bowls and seeded crackers around the pumpkin,” she says.