The holidays are just around the corner and there’s nothing I love more than hosting my own holiday party. I love entertaining, but not gonna lie, it’s taken me many years and lots of practice to get the hosting down to a science and to ensure that I have as good a time as my guests. After all, that’s what the holidays are supposed to be about – bringing family and friends together, being merry, and enjoying!
So, while throwing the perfect holiday party may seem a little daunting to some, I’ve got 5 simple tips that will ensure your holiday party prep is low-stress and your guests have a blast!
5 TIPS FOR HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING
1. Pick a theme and colour scheme
For the holidays, it’s pretty simple to pick a theme. You’ll also want to decide on a colour scheme to match your theme of between 2 to 4 complementary colours. In the past I’ve done green and red, and silver and blue, but you may even want to mix it up and put a modern twist on your theme!
2. Set the scene with décor
It’s all about the little details when it comes to decorating for the holidays. Adding little details (e.g. sprigs of rosemary on top of napkins or Christmas crackers on top of plates) are a great way to put a personal touch on your holiday decorating and impress your guests. These little details are sure to be talking points for your guests and will land you in the hosting hall of fame for years to come!
3. Create a simple and elegant tablescape
If your dining room table is going to be the focal point for your holiday party, why not create a tablescape, as I have done above? You can put together a simple, yet beautiful table setting using just a few key items, like: a table runner (here, I used cheese cloth, but you could also use burlap or any other material that fits your theme and décor), greenery (I used Italian Ruskus, but eucalyptus or pine could also work), candles, cloth napkins, elegant tableware and flatware (I especially love gold, silver, or rose gold flatware).
4. Make a signature cocktail
Drinks are always important, but try going beyond the nog! Make a signature cocktail and give it a name that plays into your holiday theme, like “Moscow Muletide”! This will be another memorable and fun element for your guests, and you’ll get to experiment with new cocktail recipes in the process!
5. Don’t forget the apps!
Nothing brings people together more than food! While your main course is important, you want to keep your guests happy and mingling while your food is still warming in the oven. You definitely don’t want hangry guests, so let them graze on a showstopping cheese and charcuterie board.
A cheese and charcuterie board is always a crowd-pleaser, which is why it’s an absolute must for any holiday party! This year, I’m excited to team up with Castello Cheese to show you how you can achieve the perfect cheese board for your holiday entertaining! Even if you’re not entertaining for the holidays, you can use these simple tips to create the perfect cheese and charcuterie board at any other time of the year.
I think cheese and charcuterie boards are like snowflakes, in that no two boards are alike! Every time I put one together, it always turns out differently than the last; and that’s part of the beauty of making one. You can get as creative as you want and play around with different ingredients each time.
But remember: we eat with our eyes first! So, as much as the individual items on the board are delicious, it’s important that your board looks really good too. You want to create something beautiful, plentiful, and inviting, in order to wow your guests and keep them coming back. So, if you’re a newbie at making cheese and charcuterie platters, or if you’re looking to take your cheese and charcuterie game to the next level, follow these 5 simple tips to create the perfect cheese and charcuterie board, and soon you’ll be making boards like a pro!
5 TIPS FOR CREATING THE PERFECT CHEESE AND CHARCUTERIE BOARD
1. Size Matters!
Decide on the size of your board, which will depend on the number of people you want to feed. A good rule to follow is: 2 oz. each of cheese and meats per person. Below, I put two regular-sized wooden cutting boards together to form one large platter. The boards don’t have to look perfect, since you’re going to be filling them up anyway!
2. Cheese Please!
The main component of your cheese board is obviously going to be your cheese. So, I think it’s super important to pick a good variety to suit all different tastes, and also ensure that your cheese appears as the ‘star’ on your board.
I used 10 whole Castello Cheeses on my cheese and charcuterie board, including cheeses from their creatively crafted collection. Castello has a long history of cheesemaking (they’ve actually been making cheese for over 100 years!), which is reflected in both the quality and indulgent taste sensations of each of their cheeses.
Here are the 7 varieties of Castello Cheese that I used on my board (doubling up on certain cheeses that I knew my guests would like):
- 1&7: Double Crème Brie – this is perfect for fans of soft, mild cheeses and is easily spreadable on breads and crackers.
- 2&9: Castello Cracked Black Pepper Cheddar – my favourite type of cheese is an aged cheddar. This cracked black pepper aged cheddar from Castello is not too strong and the black pepper doesn’t overpower the cheddar flavour. I also love the texture, since it’s not very hard, like a lot of other aged cheddars.
- 3: Cream Cheese with Pineapple – I’d never seen a flavour combo like this before, so I knew I had to give it a try! The pineapple gives a bit of sweetness and it’s very spreadable as well.
- 4&6: Extra Creamy Danish Blue – this is like a classic blue cheese, but with a slightly milder blue flavour. I especially love how creamy this Extra Creamy Danish Blue is, which is why I decided to double up on it for my holiday cheese board.
- 5: Castello Savoury Onion Cheddar – this is my favourite of all the cheeses on the board, which is no surprise because I have a ‘savoury tooth’! Texturally, this cheese is like the cracked black pepper aged cheddar, and I love the little chunks of caramelized onion that you get in every bite!
- 8: Gorgonzola – this is the perfect mix of rich, creamy, and earthy. This Gorgonzola pairs really well with honey or any other sweet preserve on a cracker. It’s also great for pairing with pasta.
- 10. Smoked Gorgonzola – similar to the Gorgonzola, but with a bit of a twist. Castello’s Smoked Gorgonzola is actually double smoked with different hardwoods, including applewood, for a smoky and slightly more salty flavour.
3. The Cheese Stands Alone!
The single most important tip for making the perfect cheese board is to arrange your cheese before putting anything else on!
Use the entire surface area to spread your cheeses out, and arrange them in a balanced manner (as I have done in the numbered picture above). I don’t think it’s necessary to pre-cut your cheese (since that’s part of the fun for your guests), but if you want to do that for visual interest, feel free!
Here is a look at my completed cheese and charcuterie board. Keep reading the steps below to see how I achieved this.
4. Balance & Symmetry
Once your cheeses are arranged on your board, start to fill the gaps between them. I start with larger items, like the jars and containers of spreads, preserves, honey, etc. I intentionally used jars and containers of different sizes and materials (i.e. glass, ceramic). As you’ve done with your cheese, arrange them on either side to create balance.
5. Contrast, Colour & Texture
When purchasing your ingredients, think about the colours you want on your board (you definitely don’t want your board to be monotone). What are items that can add little pops of colour? Here, I chose pomegranate, figs, green apples, cornichons, and caper berries. At the same time, think of items that will provide textural contrast, different heights, and a mix of sweet, savoury, and tangy flavours, to keep everything visually interesting and tasty.
Then the best part begins – fill out your board with the rest of your items! Again, do this in a balanced manner. Don’t rush through it – take your time and enjoy the process! Look at your board from a top down/bird’s eye view to ensure you are achieving balance and symmetry.
Well, there you have it! My 5 simple tips for bringing your holiday entertaining game to the next level, and my 5 simple tips for creating the perfect cheese and charcuterie board! Do you have any other tips to share? If so, leave them in the comments below!