Also known as the gumdrop tree.

By Melissa Locker
1960s Christmas Party
Credit: Dennis Hallinan/Getty Images

If you're looking for a show-stopping presentation for your party snacks, hang your salami and cheese on a tree. Not a real tree, of course, but a decorative one designed to make a stunning centerpiece.

There are two types of so-called tidbit trees, but both are an easy way to serve up snacks at a cocktail party. One version involves tiny trays of varying sizes stacked on top of each other with each layer—or "branch" if you want to keep the analogy going—offering a little place to put candied nuts, cheese straws, crudité, or devilled eggs all in one stylish holder. And while tidbit trees don't have to be tree shaped or even have tree patterns on them, the most fun ones do.

Then there's the other type of tidbit tree. These are shaped like tiny plastic trees without leaves, of course. Some grandmothers call them gumdrop trees, loading their translucent plastic branches with colorful jujubes ripe for the picking. In an interesting side note, gumdrop trees were inspired by an old Appalachian Christmas tradition where families would cut down a thorn bush while they were selecting a Christmas tree and decorate it with colorful gumdrops.

Elizabeth Heiskell tidbit Tree
Credit: Instagram

These days, of course, gumdrop trees don't have to be for just gumdrops. A recent Instagram post by Elizabeth Heiskell, author of What Can I Bring?: Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up, showed a tidbit tree decked out in party snacks, and was a welcome reminder of the versatility of those little plastic trees.

To recreate the look at home, simply skewer pimento-stuffed olives, chunks of cheese, gherkins (cornichons, if you're fancy), squares of ham or salami on the trees plastic branches, and fill the base with crackers. It transforms that gumdrop tree into a resplendent appetizer display sure to wow your guests.

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It's a bit hard to find gumdrop trees in stores these days, but The Vermont Country Store, Etsy, eBay, and your favorite local vintage shop may have them lurking around. Since everything old is new again eventually, pick one up the next time you see one and turn that tidbit tree into a cocktail party fixture that will have everyone talking.