It’s nearly Christmas! At every seasonal holiday I immediately think about easy food ideas that would be perfect for entertaining friends & family. At Christmas this extends to snack plates for Christmas movie nights, fun date nights and things to entertain the children with in the school holidays, especially if they can help make them!
Below are some of my favourite Christmas themed treats, from platters to breakfasts, to DIY home kits to help fill your tables (and bellies!) with some delicious and pretty food ideas.
Cheeseboard Wreath & Charcutrees!
One of my favourite platters is a cheeseboard, complete with some pickles, fruity items and fresh items. Perfect for nibbling on over drinks, or whilst playing some board games at Christmas. Last year I made a really fun Cheeseboard wreath. I used my pizza serving board, which was the ideal shape & size. I started by layering up lettuce and spinach in the wreath shape and topped this with easy to pick up cocktail sticks and some loose items. The cocktails sticks featured Red Leicester, cheddar and Cranberry Wensleydale alongside charcuterie meats, pickled onions gherkins and cherries!! These worked beautifully for a pop of colour & flavour, but could be replaced with grapes, apples, pears or whatever you prefer.
A similar idea to the wreath but designing your layers of items into a tree shape on your display board! To make this design stand out you keep all of your similar items together into layers, getting narrower to form the design. The great thing with any charcuterie based board is that you can add whatever you like the most!
I would recommend at least three types of cheeses, two cured meats, a fruit, a pickled item/olives, crackers/pretzels, and some smaller nuts/dried fruit to scatter over it like ‘decorations’. Herbs are a brilliant way to add some real ‘tree’ effect, whilst also being edible – rosemary is ideal for looks! There are lots of examples available on the Internet & I’ll be trying one of these soon!
Puff Pastry Stars
A ubiquitous flavour of Christmas is camembert & cranberry, and what better than a cute way to serve these than on top of a golden brown puff pastry star! Simply use a star cutter, or other shape, on ready rolled pastry. Cook in the oven per the packet instructions, removing 2-3 minutes before done to add a small square of camembert to the top to melt for the final few minutes. Top with a homemade or for real ease store bought (it’s absolutely fine to use store bought!) cranberry sauce & a spring of thyme or rosemary.
Candy Cane Caprese (or Sweetie cane!)
Possibly one of the simplest on the list is a simple Caprese salad designed in a candy cane shape. Slice up your mozzarella balls and large tomatoes (big salad or beefsteak tomatoes would be great!). Alternate these into your candy cane shape. Serve with a Balsamic glaze dip and some sprigs of basil dotted through the candy cane. You can also think outside the box, with chorizo or deli meats alternated with cheese as well.
Alternatively, replace the caprese ingredients with sliced strawberries and banana for a sweet version! This will come out much much smaller in size but would make a great addition to pancakes, or a healthy fruit breakfast.
Christmas Kiwi Tree
Another fruity option is a kiwi fruit Christmas tree. Simply slice peeled kiwi fruit and arrange into a tree shape. Use either a pineapple, melon or mango to cut a star out of the fruit to go on the top – or use a chocolate star if you wish! I also added chocolate matchmakers for the trunk at the bottom. Use berries to dot across the top to look like baubles.
Tear & Share Christmas Tree
Ready made pastry is a fantastic time saver, especially during the holiday season when we are extra busy! I often keep a roll in the fridge (or freezer) for emergency baking as it is extremely versatile to a savoury or sweet filling – plus with some simple ideas you can turn it into a festive treat. One of my favourites with puff pastry is a filled tear & share tree made with 2 ready rolled sheets of puff pastry.
Simply unroll one sheet and place onto a lined baking tray. Cut to a tree shape, keeping the scraps and cutting out a star topper for the tree top. Spread the base of the tree with your choice of filling – I like to use chocolate & salted caramel spread, or nutella and you can add a sprinkling of ground almonds, dessicated coconut or other small treats. Cover with the second roll of pastry and trim to the tree shape, gently sealing the edges. Careful cut slits into the tree at 1-2cm intervals – ensure you leave a 1 inch uncut section running up the centre for the trunk to hold the whole item together. Once all cut, gently twist the branches a few times and apply an egg/milk wash to the pastry. Cook per the instructions & dust with icing sugar once out of the oven.
Once again you can easily make this as a savoury pastry using pesto, cheese, sundried tomatoes or other fillings of your preference and dust with grated parmesan after following the same steps.
Cinnamon Roll Christmas Trees
Another fantastic, simple idea that’s perfect for breakfasts or n eleven o’clock snack are Cinnamon roll Christmas trees! I love enjoying a homemade cinnamon roll but for these I used a ready made tube from the supermarket for speed, since then I’ve had a tube in the fridge for ‘just in case’ moments! Open the packet per instructions and slice into 6 rounds (or the recommended slices per your tube brand). Then gently unroll the swirl, this will be a bit messy due to the cinnamon spread in them. Reassemble in a tree shape, with a line at the bottom about 2.5 inches and then fold up in a concertina shape. You want about 5 layers to make it look tree like.
Cook per the instructions, keeping an eye on them for when they are golden brown. In the meantime make the icing in the packet, adding some green food colouring. Once out the oven, allow to cool sightly and then drizzle the green icing over the top, add some sprinkles and a star topper!
Rudolph or Christmas Tree Brownies
Brownies are a brilliant idea at any time, but I love these simple decoration ideas to make these festive! Use your favourite brownie recipe (or jazz it up with a mincemeat or gingerbread version!) and the cut into triangle shapes. For trees, pipe on green icing and decorate with sprinkles, smarties and a chocolate star topper. Once again a ‘Matchmaker’ is ideal for a trunk or a chocolate finger. Rudolph has the triangle turned the other way up (wide side at the top). Either coat in chocolate icing, or leave plain. Use pretzels for ears, glued on with some icing, candy eyes and red smartie nose!
A really fun snowman bake that is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea! I made these snowmen meringues last year, using aquafaba from a chickpea can whilst also makes them vegan. Of course you can also make them with standard meringue. Make your chosen meringue mix and pipe into a snowman shape of 3 circles, gradually decreasing in size. Bake slowly and allow to cool in the oven overnight. Add edible decoration pens to create a snowman face.
It wouldn’t be a Christmas list without including a Gingerbread House! I’ve enjoyed making a gingerbread house at Christmas for the past few years, when I was younger I remember gingerbread men instead! Either make from scratch or use a kit to make this a bit easier – the decoration becomes the most fun element of this bake for me, so I’m happy to use a kit. Ideal for a Christmas activity with older children!
DIY Doughnuts & Biscuits
Over lockdown I’ve enjoyed having DIY at home kits delivered from many restaurants and bakeries. Last year I had decorate at home Gingerbread man doughnuts delivered by Doughnut Time that were a really fun activity to do and left you with 4 delicious gingerbread doughnuts to savour as well!!! The kit contains the expertly made doughnuts, all the ingredients for icing and filling, equipment and decorations to have a friendly design competition.
As well as DIY doughnuts there are many other kits available for fun Christmas baking activities. The Biscuiteers DIY biscuit decoration kits have wonderful reviews. The kit comes with ready made biscuits, and all the equipment, icing and decorations to have a fun time making some beautiful or quirky biscuit Christmas ornaments. It’s also presented in a gorgeous keepsake tin. I also really enjoyed the Honeywell Biscuit Co baking kit I used to produce rainbow bagels for my GBBO bake along challenges. They have an extensive Christmas range including savoury breads, macarons, cakes, gingerbread houses and more available all with a fun Christmas twist. Great fun for all the family or why not get a kit each and do a virtual bake along or decoration evening if you can’t get together safely this Christmas.