Give the gift of whimsy to your table settings with place-card holders in the guise of presents. Wrap small square boxes in seasonal gift wrapping and tie name cards to each before setting them in the desired spots. For a true surprise, cut out the bottom of each box, place a room-temperature amuse bouche on the plate underneath and cover it with the box.
Let it snow
Even if the weather outside doesn't co-operate, you can have a winter wonderland indoors with Snow Real, a non-toxic polymer that becomes fluffy, glistening "snow" when mixed with water. Use the craft-store staple to create frosty tabletop vignettes or wintry foundations for centrepieces. Visit www.hofland.com to find a retailer near you.
I have personalized many a charity or corporate dinner by customizing dessert plates with festive sayings or individual names. To do so at home, simply carve out the desired words on clear acetate paper with an X-Acto knife, place the stencil over a section of each plate and sprinkle cocoa powder over the cut-out.
Sebastien Centner is the director of Eatertainment Special Events in Toronto ( www.eatertainment.com ).