What if your indoor holiday tree, instead of the scent of inedible pine, had the aroma of delicious rosemary? In fact, rosemary, sage and thyme — let alone a multitude of other flavorful sensations — could be filling your holiday home and those of your friends and family if you give the presents of innovative produce gifts, instead of run-of-the-mill offerings.
Talk about a tasty hostess gift to bring to holiday gatherings or to brighten up your own home decor. The approximate 1-foot Plants, which are cut and formed into the shape of pine trees, and often decorated with tiny ornaments and flanked by a recipe card, are sold by a number of the nation's florist websites. Some of the country's supermarket chains also sell them in their produce or floral departments and even have a tube of rosemary-scented body lotion attached.
The innovative healthy hostess holiday gift ideas don't stop there. If you think in terms of bouquets from your supermarket produce aisles, your creative gift options grow. Some even sell attractive, ribbon-wrapped bouquets for gift giving that are not only pretty, but specifically for cooking. They are often called "turkey blend" are made from sage, rosemary and thyme. To give you even more ideas, here are a few other recent supermarket produce department finds:
—A premium fruit brand sells gift bags of their apples decorated with bows and accompanied by recipes for special holiday side dishes, such as a quinoa medley that you could emulate at home with your favorite grain recipe using milk, cinnamon, pecans and honey.
—Companies that sell containers of cute little cherry tomatoes have "constellation" collections in pretty containers for the holidays. The constellation includes red, yellow, green and orange cherry tomatoes.
—Other tomato plants to be on the lookout for: cocktail tomatoes sold on the vine, decoratively cut and wrapped in supermarket produce departments as a fun, fresh gift your hosts can use in their libations.
—You can let your imagination go wild creating your own healthful hostess gift produce baskets, such as bunches of cute little green Brussels sprouts flanked by mini red bell peppers and recipes for dishes including those ingredients.
AFTER-WORK GOURMET COOKBOOK SHELF
If you're not having the most fun of anyone at your party and your house isn't a hot mess when it's over, then you're doing something wrong when you are entertaining, notes Kate Hudson. As some have pointed out recently, everything Hudson touches seems to turn to gold, whether it's her films, her athletic wear line and now her tips about entertaining in her book "Pretty Fun." The book should also strike many as a pretty fun read filled with color photographs of the appealing actress/lifestyle guru. It gives lighthearted tips that can make any gathering even more lighthearted for what may have ordinarily been a stressed-out host. Some standouts include: turning your entire dining table into a huge, varied meat and cheese board, so the guests have fun, but you can as well by not being tied to the stove; or not taking on all fancy food presentations yourself by instead setting up a fun guest self-serve hot apple cider or hot chocolate bar with the accompaniments, like cinnamon sticks and marshmallows, in pretty containers on the side.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "Cooks' Books" column. To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.