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This holiday season, craft a beautiful and well-balanced cheese plate your guests will love.

5 ways to create the ultimate holiday cheese board

Cheese makes everything (and we mean EVERYTHING) better. And that includes your appetizer selections at holiday gatherings this month.

No, no. We’re not talking about sliced American cheese and cheap crackers. We’re thinking local, gourmet, artisan cheeses that are perfectly paired with delightful accompaniments that are sure to tickle your taste buds in all the right places. That’s right—a cheese board.

This might sound cheesy (pun definitely intended), but there’s a right and a wrong way to set up your plate. From the organization to the selection, here’s how you can craft a beautiful and well-balanced cheese plate your guests will love.

1.Buy a variety. As with any recipe, texture is key. And when it comes to cheeses, you want a variety of textures. Vary the types of milk in the cheeses and include at least one blue cheese in the mix. But, in an attempt not to overwhelm your guests, keep the number of options small (no less than three and no more than five is best). Oh, and buy local whenever possible!

2. Let the cheese breathe. Cheese is a dairy product. So, you’d think it’s best to keep it refrigerated (yay basic food safety!). But there’s actually no need to keep cheese chilled out—it’s best served at room temperature. Set your platter out 30 to 40 minutes before your guests arrive for the ultimate tasting experience.

3.Step away from the knife. You’ve probably seen chefs shove a knife in the middle of a cheese wedge, call it art, and serve it. Not anymore. Cut the cheese on a separate board before you arrange it, and place it neatly on your serving plate. The only exception to the rule? Soft cheeses. Leave those babies whole.

4.Organize from mild to wild. Guide your guests through the cheeses and build the platter clockwise. It should be a visual experience as much as a tasting one.

5.Use the buddy system. The sidekicks are just as important as the cheese itself. Keep the crackers, salami, or apple slices (whatever is being paired with the cheese) next to it on the board.

Want to showcase local products on your board? We don’t blame you. Here’s what the experts at the Dairy Farmers of Washington recommend. Stop by your local QFC Murray’s Cheese Shop to find them all:

To learn more about the Dairy Farmers of Washington, visit