FOOD is often the thing that brings families and friends together over Christmas, so it is important to offer up quality fare.

You don’t have to be a great cook – as long as your ingredients are of the highest standard, you won’t go far wrong.

Whether you are hosting a big family get-together over the festive period, or have been invited away, some fresh, seasonal veg from your local Worcestershire farmers’ market will go down a storm. Pick up some sweet, fresh sprouts, freshly-dug parsnips and carrots and some delicious purplesprouting broccoli and you will certainly have a Christmas meal to remember.

Even if you’re not cooking, but are enjoying the hospitality of friends or relatives, take along some quality Worcestershire veg and show everyone what real food tastes like.

Make sure your veg isn’t cooked for too long – nothing is worse than soggy sprouts that have been boiled to death. Cook them quickly (I like mine with a little garlic and some chestnuts) and make sure they have plenty of crunch left in them when they are served. I guarantee that even the most rabid anti-sprout campaigner will be converted.

Worcestershire parsnips taste fabulous when they are honeyglazed and roasted and make an excellent extra veg to have at Christmastime.

Another key part of your farmers’ market Christmas is the greenery used to decorate your home. Holly, ivy, laurel, mistletoe and other evergreens have been used as winter decorations for centuries – so pick some up at your next farmers’ market.

You will find Marion Thorpe at the Blue Gecko plant stall at next weekend’s Malvern market, so head along and choose some of her Christmas wreaths and holly to brighten your home.

Rosabelle Needham, of Chaddesley Growers, near Kidderminster, makes her own decorative Christmas wreaths, swags and mantelpiece bars with fresh, local evergreens.

You will find Rosabelle’s stall at today’s Bromsgrove market and next weekend at the Malvern Christmas market.

Today’s farmers’ market is in High Street, Bromsgrove from 9am until 5pm. Next weekend’s markets are in Abbey Road, Malvern, on Saturday, December 18, from 9am until 2pm and in Angel Place, Worcester, on Sunday, December 19, from 9am until 3pm.