Easy Holiday Entertaining Tips...

Cindy with a Cheeseboard

Do you love to entertain at the holidays, but find it just too stressful sometimes? If you’re planning to open your home to friends and family this holiday season (for a big event or a small gathering), I have a few tips that might make it a bit easier.

In my “former life” I was a caterer and restaurant owner, and we all know that food is one of the great unifiers. It brings people together, and can warm up the most awkward function (not that you’d ever have an awkward function, but sometimes Noreen from the office might not immediately hit it off with your wild cousin Marv.)

I try to always have a few things on hand (especially around the holidays) just in case a few friends want to pop over, or I get invited somewhere last minute, and need to bring something.

My go to is always a cheeseboard, and they’re always a little different. Key components are the same, though- (Listed in order of placement on the board…)

  • 3 cheeses- A soft, something like a brie or chevre, a hard cheese, like a cheddar or Manchego, and a veined cheese, like a Stilton or Gorgonzola. (You can always use more, but I’d recommending at least having those represented for variety. All soft, or all hard, cheeses get boring.

  • Charcuterie- Sometimes I leave this off, since I don’t eat it, and don’t typically have it at home. The bonus is that this often consists of cured meats with a decent shelf life. Cured sausage, spicy salami, etc add a nice complement,

  • Fruit and/ or vegetables. Bunches of grapes, a handful or two of raspberries, strawberries, etc, carrot sticks, or sliced cucumbers, add a nice touch of freshness to your board.

  • Condiments- A mustard, chutney, relish, or something like a fig jam, is a great addition, and can be placed on the board, or in a small ramekin or dish, and nestled in.

  • Nuts and dried fruits- So many choices! From Marcona Almonds to regular roasted almonds, spiced pecans, walnuts, or seeds (pumpkin, etc) add great texture and yummy crunch. Dried fruits add a touch of sweet without being a “sweet,” and my faves are definitely dried apricots, cherries, or cranberries, but there are so many choices available now! These make great filler between the “bigger” items like cheese, fruits, etc.

  • I often put my crackers or bread on another plate, but certainly use the same board if I have a smaller group. Bounty is the name of the game when you’re building your board!

  • If you really want to knock it out of the park, you can always fill in with a few sprigs of herbs- thyme or rosemary are beautiful for the holidays. But get creative! Creativity makes everything better!

My top 5 never fail pantry items means I’m always ready to throw something fab together, even if I only have a few minutes.

  • Olives- having a few different types of olives add flavor, color, and a little mediterranean flair, even if you have little else.

  • A couple of jarred pantry items- Artichoke Spread, Tapenade, Relishes, or Chutneys… Having just a few things like this can make a big difference. (Trader Joes is one of the best places to snag some of these, and they always have something unique and seasonal.)

  • I always make sure I have a couple of unique crackers, too- no matter the season. Even if you don’t have cheese, or anything else, if you have a jar of something delicious, and some unusual crackers, you’ll always have something delicious. Again, Trader Joe’s is a great place to find these- Fig & Olive, Pistachio Cranberry


My favorite board (shown here) is a reclaimed slate and wood board made by Governor’s Antiques. I give these as gifts, bring them when I’m going to parties, and put them out whenever I have people at my house.

Slate Cheese Board.jpg

Right now, until the end of the year, get 10% off your boards online or in store, just by saying/ using the code CindySentMe. Click here if you’re not local and want to order online.

If you’re local, just pop over to the store at 8000 Antique Lane in Mechanicsville, or give them a call at 804-746-1030 to hold a few for you!

Cindy Bennett