You waited for the release and snagged your very own custom KaylaRae Resin Grazing Board — but what now? Whether it be a glamorous holiday spread, or a simple tête-à-tête for two, the foundation for designing your layout is the same. My easy guide will walk you through how to build the perfect experience every time!
STEP 1: Perfect portions!
What's every hostess's worst nightmare? WASTED FOOD. ‘Not enough’ isn’t actually an issue because you can always find something extra in the house, or give guests a break before dinner. Don't get me wrong, leftovers are awesome, but when it comes to grazing boards, the short shelf-life of pre-cut foods makes it harder to save and reuse. Check out my guide HERE to help you calculate exactly how many hors d’oeuvres you'll need based on your party size!
Step 2: Gather your ingredients
Focus on Flavor & Texture
The theory behind a great taste experience is the incorporation of different flavor profiles and textures. You'll want to have a combination of of sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, and (if it's your thing) spicy... here's some easy suggestions below to get your mind going!
Sweet: jam, honey, fruits, chocolate (covered nuts/dried fruits),
Salty: obviously meat & cheese (yum), olives, pickled veg, nuts
Sour: yogurt-based dips, bleu cheese, pickled veg
Crunchy: nuts, cut apples, crackers, carrots
Spicy: dijon mustard, horseradish, hot pepper jelly from TJ's
My secret tip is to ALWAYS check out the local farmers‘ market and select produce that is fresh and in-season. As a small business owner, I love supporting others in the community, and it’s really been rewarding when I find hidden gems like unique fruits or certain roasted nuts I otherwise couldn’t find anywhere else! It’s a fun conversation starter and guests are impressed at something new for them, but simple to include.
Depending on your budget or the sophistication of the event, you will also find great offerings at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or your local market store and cheese shops. Support local when you can, plus it will elevate your spread to have local and small-batch products to share.
For everything else, I would recommend simply sticking with your local grocer! Check out my favorites from Trader Joes if you haven't read the blog post already!
Regardless of where you source cheese selection, I suggest one type from each category:
Soft: Burrata, Mozzarella, Brie, Humboldt Fog
Semi-Soft: Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Fontina
Semi-Hard: Manchego, Swiss, Provolone, Comte
Hard: Cheddar, Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago
STEP 3: Set the scene
You'll want to use the right sized board to hold the correct amount of food for your guests. Have a large surface area to cover or a large number of guests? Use multiple boards! This "harvest" display is designed with three grazing boards from the SONOMA Collection. They fit together almost like a puzzle for a fun mixed & matched look!
If you don't have a grazing board on hand, you can create a similar visual with a simple wood cutting board or two. While not as elegant, it gets the job done! Don't be afraid to play with the shapes like I did here for a more grand effect. To avoid that last-minute scrounge for the cutting board, sign up to receive my newsletter to be on the VIP list for the next grazing board collection release!
REMINDER: Make sure you have enough cheese knives! Keep everything clean without mixing flavors of vastly different hors d'oeurves by remembering to have one knife per cheese (and maybe bring an extra). THESE are my favorite cheese knives, and yes, I just so happen to carry them in my shop just for you! They have the best serrated edge for cutting into those super dense cheeses, with a spreadable side for using with jams and softer cheese.
STEP 4: Arrange The Cheese
This is where the magic happens! Starting off can be a little dicey (pun intended), but when it comes to cutting the cheese (pun NOT intended 😂), it simply rests on creating visual variety.
Not sure if you should slice, cube, or crumble? Look at the cheese's natural texture to give you a clue!
Dice cheddar cheese into cubes due to its dense nature
Slice the softer Brie (wedge) or Stilton (sheet/plane)
Crumble the parmesan cheese with its natural flakiness.
STEP 5: Fill in your gaps with fruits, nuts, jams, and crackers
Remember the ingredients you got that cover all the flavor profiles? I'll walk you through my example and how it all comes together!
Since I was going for more of a "fall harvest" themed board, I incorporated foods in autumn colors - orange, maroon, yellow, cream. Even a small detail like a color palette with the different hues spread evenly across the board(s), makes a big wow with little effort.
Everything was easy to find, prep, and if needed, carry -- freshly sliced apples and oranges, a bunch of heritage grapes, and a handful of candied pecans. Just a few extra snacks added to the cheese and we've hit all the marks.
Now place your jams or dips throughout the display. Again, make sure these are evenly spaced so as to not compete with each other!
HOT TIP: Running out of room or certain you'll need to restock that one thing? Make your design work for you! I use my mini board to display the crackers, as they are super easy to replenish without moving things around on the boards in the middle of a party.
STEP 6: Garnish!
I love using fresh sprigs of herbs like rosemary, or some edible flowers from the garden on every grazing board display, as they add yet another fun and organic texture to the spread.
Tuck small bunches of your chosen greenery under the corners of cheeses, or really anywhere you see a gap!
This small detail truly elevates the whole grazing experience. It gives a visual WOW!
Now you're all set. Take a step back, make any last adjustments, and enjoy!
What's your hostess hack? Let me know in the comments below!