The holiday season is fast approaching. Have you brushed up on your hosting skills? Wintertime is a great excuse to cozy up and gather with friends and family around food and other festivities. As much fun as it is to bake cookies, cakes, and other festive goodies for the next potluck, sometimes a party platter, with a little something for everyone, is just the ticket. Make an impact at your next event with a stunning snack spread and check out our tips for striking the perfect balance.

Choose Your Spread – Sweet or Savory?

When it comes to grazing boards, decide which of the following categories will best fit your style.

Salty: Cheese and crackers are a classic combination. Look for interesting varieties like seeded whole grain, fruit studded, thin or thick crisps and thinly sliced toasted baguette. Aim for at least three different cheeses of various hardness and strength. Think sliced aged gouda, creamy goat, and strong French brie.
Spicy: Toasted nuts, fiery salami and hot pickles can make a great snack board. Pair them with toasted cheese straws or crispy Italian grissini for an extra crunch.
Sweet: When it comes to sweet boards, the possibilities are endless. Cookies, petit fours, and Christmas candies, like fudge, brittles and peppermint bark can make an interesting spread. Add in festive fruit, like chocolate dipped orange and boozy chocolates for a grown-up candy board.
Savory: Crudites and dip are a classic combo. Change up the usual veggie spread by adding in some heartier vegetarian fare, like bite size Greek dolmas, mini quiches, or savory cheese gougeres.

Keeps Design in Mind

For party platters especially, remember that you eat with your eyes first. Keep that in mind when choosing your ingredients. For sweet spreads, look for cookies with different shapes, sizes, and textures. While homemade ingredients are great, a local bakery can be a wonderful timesaver and a great place to get a wide range of baked goods. For charcuterie, look for cheeses that create visual interest. Seasonal offerings like wine soaked, or pepper rubbed varietals of hard cheeses can be interesting and delicious. Add in some spicy smoked nuts, toasted parmesan crisps and fragrant herb sprigs and you’ll have a platter that looks as good as it tastes.

How to Assemble The Perfect Holiday Platter

This season, embrace the undone and opt for a casual grazing board that is less formal and more fun. Choose a simple dish or decorative cutting board and start creating piles of ingredients. Use smaller dishes to hold pickled vegetables, nuts, or other items for easy access. Start by placing the larger items first, like piles of sliced meats, large cookies, or bunches of grapes. Begin filling in the areas around, tucking in herbs, chocolates, nuts, or dried fruit wherever they fit. Berries, seeds, and seasonal fruits like pomegranate and persimmon also work well. Don’t overthink it. Once you’re done, finish the plate by nestling in a dish of mini utensils or tongs for easy service. One of the best parts of a party platter, is the ability of the guests to serve themselves. Leaving time for the host to enjoy the festivities!

This year, make your party your own by crating the perfect platter for your festivities. With great ingredients that you and your guests will love, entertaining a crowd will be simple, fun and a great start to the holiday season.