I made this for the Pyrate's 1st birthday party... there were more grownups than children, obviously.
I love the idea of food as art. It brings great pleasure to the eye to have food presented in such a way. In most situations you will find that I opt for the more rustic, more primitive presentations. Over-grooming, does nothing for me. There is much to be said for a beautifully done crudite'. (the link will give you some creative ideas for displays) It's an art form with many shifting variables that you can mix and match to suit the theme, mood, and occasion of your party.
This fabulous three dimensional display of edible goodies is easy, easy, easy and makes an accessible spread for pre-dinner snacking for your guests at a party or holiday function. Just grab up what's in season at your local farmers market. You can make vegetable, fruit, or a combination of both. Some items should be trimmed or peeled. Others should be cut into finger size pieces such as the bellpeppers and broccoli in the photo. Other items, such as cherry tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, mushrooms, and most fruits should be left whole. You should 3 minute blanch items such as asparagus, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and green beans, in rapidly boiling water so they are more tender to the bite. Then fill gourds, cabbage, squashes with dips, vinaigrettes, mustards, etc. Display as a centerpiece on your dining table, or as I did here, use an entire surface of a sideboard or buffet. I used all kinds of hidden items to create height, depth, and dimension to this display. For a smaller crudite you can start out with a platter and have the items spill over onto the surface of whatever space you will display it on, or you can make it a bit more conservative by keeping it more neat and displayed on platters. Use fancy garnish techniques on some items to make your crudite more interesting. Radishes, carrots, celery, can be manipulated to fan, curl, and other kooky but cool looking effects, when creatively cut and shocked in an ice bath. Also some items can be placed there whole just for decoration. You can use them later after the party for some sort of recipe, but they will simply serve to make your display more plentiful and extravagant.
A large crudite such as mine in the picture is enough for a casual afternoon party, with perhaps the addition of a cheese board and some wine and juices.
Did I mention this is a healthy alternative to chips, candies, and other typical party junk food? If your veggies are farm fresh, and high quality, and your dips and sauces are flavorful, and your wine is tasty, your guests will not even miss that traditional casual party fare and they'll be amazed at this display that will remind them of master paintings in a museum.