Nothing says the holidays like a Christmas tree. For many people, getting and decorating the tree is the apex of holiday celebrations. Some people even have multiple trees, with different themes. But the tree theme can be brought into other aspects of your life, as well -- for example, your plate! That's right; why not enjoy all your favorite seasonal fare in the shape of a Christmas tree?
Cookies are the obvious answer. Sugar cookies and gingerbread dough are easy to roll out and cut with tree-shaped cookie cutters. They're also fun to decorate, even for smaller kids. Get a whole lot of icings and sprinkles, not to mention other types of sugar decorations, and then let your creativity loose.
But food shaped like Christmas trees doesn't have to end with cookies. You can cut out brownies once they've been baked. Bonus: Save the leftover trimmings for ice-cream sundae toppings. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes, as well. What a nice surprise to find in a lunchbox!
But what about Christmas morning? Why not have breakfast in the shape of Christmas trees? You can use cookie cutters to shape eggs and pancakes. Simply spray the pan and the cutter with pan spray and then add an egg (you can use scrambled eggs or do a sunny-side-up egg) or pancake batter. Be careful! The cutter will get very hot; do not touch it directly.
If you want to make a tree-shaped cake, you have a couple of options. The easiest is to buy a tree-shaped pan and bake the cake in that. You can buy that type of pan at any craft or baking supply store or online. You can also bake the cake as a sheet cake and then cut out a tree shape and decorate accordingly. If you've reached the black belt level of baking, you can always attempt to construct an actual tree out of cake. This is not to be undertaken lightly. As easy as "Cake Boss" makes it look, a lot of planning and manpower go into making those types of cake. Having a degree in architecture or physics, plus several assistants, would prove to be helpful in this instance.
A more traditional tree cake for the holidays would be the Yule log, also known as the bûche de Noël. Originally from France, the bûche de Noël is a sponge cake that is baked in a shallow dish, frosted (usually with chocolate buttercream), rolled into a cylinder and then frosted on the outside. It is then decorated to look like a fallen log in a forest. Think of giving the frosting the texture of bark, having meringue mushrooms or bunnies decorate the plate, and sifting powdered sugar for snow. It's a nice compromise between just baking a cake in a specialty pan and trying to make a scale model out of cake. You can also personalize it as you see fit. It doesn't have to be vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Spice cake with chestnut frosting would give it a nice holiday flair.
So far, most of the suggestions have been sweet or carb-heavy. Don't despair, health-conscious or savory people; we can tree-ify your food, too! Why not make a raw veggie platter in the shape of a tree? Green veggies such as broccoli, peppers and celery could be the actual tree, while foods such as cherry tomatoes, carrots and cauliflower could form the garland and decorations. Use square-shaped ramekins at the bottom filled with dipping sauces as the presents.
A less healthful -- but equally delicious -- version would be to get a tree-shaped dish and fill it with a dip for crackers, chips or crudités. Seven-layer dip would be perfect for this.
So now that you have all of these ideas, where can you get the supplies? As noted above, many craft and baking shops would be the first choice. If you plan a little bit ahead (or really a year ahead), you can get a lot of stuff deeply discounted right after the holidays. No one wants tree-shaped cookie cutters or serving dishes on Valentine's Day. Even major chains such as Target will have some, albeit a limited selection. And when all else fails, you can find anything online. But you may have to pay for shipping.
Go forth and make merry, and embrace the Christmas tree in all forms -- edible and not.