Hol­i­day gath­er­ings require some imag­i­na­tion when it comes to con­tribut­ing to potlucks, office par­ties or more fes­tive social events.

Tra­di­tional fare is mak­ing room for the crowded space of deca­dent indulgences.

Fresh pro­duce is cen­tral to lux­ury bites of hand-​dipped choco­late figs, pears, kiwi and citrus.

The time-​honored cus­tom of mak­ing can­died fruits is regain­ing pop­u­lar­ity. Fruits retain their vivid color once steeped in a sim­ple syrup. Booze it up with spir­its (rum, vodka or bour­bon) in the liq­uid mixture.

Sliced pineap­ple, kiwi, melon, grape­fruit, lemon, oranges and cran­ber­ries are good can­died fruit choices. They con­jure up images of yule­tide con­fec­tions– sugar plums, bark and fruit cakes.

Indi­vid­ual tarts, cakes and baked treats present ele­gant solo offer­ings using pears, apples, nuts and for the most dar­ing, fresh herbs.

Their “treat­ment” mat­ters most. Con­sider poached, sautéed or broiled; chopped, sliced, shaved and julienned.

Pre­sent­ing the good eats may only require an extra step in shap­ing, place­ment or plat­ing. So many bring alongs are made for mag­i­cal hol­i­day think­ing. We rec­og­nize some­thing spe­cial when we see it.

The mere dust­ing of con­fec­tion sugar or sprin­kling of turbinado gran­ules trans­forms the ordi­nary loaf cake, bar or sweet treat into a cel­e­bra­tion of sorts.

Bring on hol­i­day gar­nishes. Sug­ared cran­ber­ries, pome­gran­ate arils, cit­rus spi­rals and edi­ble flow­ers and fra­grant herbs hand placed set a fes­tive mood in glasses or on the plate. Star fruit slices invoke good cheer.

Shaved coconut invokes win­tery snow scenes. Raw or toasted this added flour­ish cre­ates instant drama and turns gar­nish into a fla­vor contributor.

One best kept pro­duce secret is to uti­lize the nat­ural color spec­trum within the full range of veg­etable and fruit choices. At retail, blocks of col­ors or mixed color dis­plays draw atten­tion to sea­sonal products.

Take advan­tage of work­ing those greens, oranges, pur­ples, whites and reds. They dis­tin­guish them­selves as healthy hol­i­day splendor.

When a com­mon radish or car­rot rises to become an exquis­ite flower or pinecone, the table has been con­verted into a feast.