Every year we do the same thing. We approach the holidays with a certain amount of trepidation. It’s not so much what we’ll make for dinner because who doesn’t get excited about mixing tradition with new dishes and sharing them with friends and family. But much of the stress comes from what to buy for others. Don’t get me wrong kids are easy, but adults? That’s another matter all together.

So here’s a thought. Many families no longer exchange gifts among adults for the simple reason they’ve exhausted the possibilities and at a certain stage, we need less. More importantly we just want to be together during the holidays. But dropping the traditional gift giving is sometimes difficult.

Our family is divided, some still buy, others don’t and this creates a different kind of stress. But it’s not what you think. We’re a pretty creative family so the ones who give, give homemade gifts. They could be gifts of preserves, a sewn or quilted tea cosy, a wooden cutting board or what ever the passionate hobbiest is into at the time. It’s pretty nice.

A new tradition with holiday celebrating is potluck meals. Oh, I know my family will deny that term viciously, instead we simply ask those who are coming to make something to bring – a part of the meal. It shares the work and everyone gets to feel a part of the festivities by contributing.

So what I started to do is buy a really nice piece of cookware, then I cook my contributing dish in the cookware. Then I leave the dish as my hosts holiday gift. Last year, I brought individual baked lasagnas in oven-safe soup bowls. In the past I’ve brought a baked vodka gnocchi dish in a casserole dish I bought at a local potter and another time, baked grape bread on a beautiful cut glass platter. This year I found a stunning burnt red soufflé dish with a beautiful rooster on the lid. I think I’ll make roasted Brussels sprouts with pancetta and cheese.

Bringing food in a gift of cookware is a gift that’s enthusiastically received and others in my family are starting the trend, baking a dozen mini-quiche in antique muffin tins or a pair of art-deco salad tongs gifted with the salad. Obviously some of these gifts have been picked up throughout the year when the perfect culinary item calls out someone’s name. Others are purchased when I decide what it is I’m going to make.

What I like about this idea is that I can bake something to bring in my beautiful cookware and for others on my gift list, I fill a piece of cookware for them with loads of local foods! It’s my way of buying local throughout the holidays and it’s a great way for everyone to take up The Ontario Table’s $10 Holiday Challenge.

What ever way you choose to gift and share during the holiday season, may it be one full of great food and love.


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