Another very practical idea - a lettuce bowl. Just get a colourful selection of lettuce seedlings aim for the advanced ones and the recipient could be harvesting salad greens for Christmas lunch.
One of the hottest trends for bowls this season is cacti and succulents. They come in mesmerizing shapes look great when planted together in most cases and are as tough as old boots being able to go for up to a fortnight without water in the height of summer if necessary. Of course they will enjoy a bit of TLC but don't go too far overboard these plants come from desert style environments so they are built tough.
Flowering annuals certainly give lots of scope for bowl planting and with a bit of advice at the garden centre you can ensure that your colourful bowl will indeed be in flower at the time of giving. Remember there are selections for full sun as well as shaded locations so get good advice before you buy.
Indoor plants are becoming hot items as millennials develop their passions for greening the indoor scenery. Have a look at the Plant Life Balance App. It allows you to take a photo with your smartphone and then place in plants to beautify the indoor space. There are many options here my main suggestion is to plant closely so the bowl looks full from day one.
Bromeliads are also known as air plants and vase plants and are basic succulent even though they don't have thick stems, leaves or roots. They store water in the vase shaped whorl at the base of the leaves. So apart from being holiday proof from a watering perspective as long as there is water in the vase, these plants can have spectacular flower clusters to rival tropical orchids.
You can buy a bonsai that's been shaped and pot it into a bowl. Just one hint Bonsai plants need to be watered often so they do best in a very coarse open mix such as I have suggested above for Cacti and succulents.
Carnivorous plants are an unusual choice for a bowl but they can work very well. Choose a bowl without a hole in the base as carnivorous plants live in swampy conditions where they need to access insects for food because the sodden soil yield little nutrient. Look for Venus flytraps (dionaea), Trumpet Pitcher plant (sarracenia), Albany Pitcher plants and sundews (drosera).