How to Build a Holiday Cheese Board

If you’re like us, you’re already planning your holiday cheese board—and you’re looking for ways to make it extra special this year. We’ve got the holiday cheese recipes, tips, and recommendations to help you do just that. 

You can follow our general guidelines for sourcing, prepping, and arranging that we’ve laid out in our cheese board how-to. But here are a few specific tips to make your holiday cheese board a beautiful and delicious success. 

Seek Out Seasonal Holiday Cheeses

rush creek reserve with white wine and accompaniments

Photo by Grace Wilkey

Cheese is a year-round food, but some cheesemakers save their best and most sought-after wheels for the holiday season. A festive meal or celebration is the perfect time to highlight some rare seasonal cheeses—or at least a good excuse to treat yourself to your very favorite varieties. 

Certain renowned, award-winning cheeses are only sold during the lead-up to the winter holidays. We’re so excited to be carrying one of these limited-edition wheels, Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese in Wisconsin, for the first time this year. We can’t wait to share its decadent, gooey texture and nutty, smoky, and meaty flavors with you! 

If you missed out on this year’s batch of Rush Creek Reserve, don’t worry. You can still celebrate with lush, bark-wrapped beauties like Merry Goat Round Spruce Reserve from Firefly Farms and Harbison from the Cellars at Jasper Hill. 

This style of cheese originated in the Alps: When the cows came back down from their high mountain pastures in fall, milk supplies dropped. Cheesemakers didn’t have enough milk to keep making the big, hard wheels they did in summer, so they produced small, soft-ripened cheeses instead. 

Fall and winter milk is also higher in fat, meaning these little cheeses were so rich when ripe that they needed structural support—hence the bark strap wrapped around the edge to keep everything contained. The result is uniquely flavored, particularly luscious cheese that’s so smooth and gooey when ripe that you can simply remove the top rind and dig in with a hunk of bread, a potato chip, or a spoon. 

Break Out the Extra-Special Servingware and Accompaniments

holiday cheese board

Photo by Kerry Jerred

If you’re like me, you have several cheese boards in your kitchen—some for everyday use, some for special occasions. The holidays are the perfect time to bust out your most beautiful cheese gear—handmade wooden boards, vintage platters, whatever you’ve got—and your favorite cheese knives

If you’ve been meaning to invest in a cheese board or knives of your own, now is the perfect excuse to give yourself a little pre-holiday gift that you can use to celebrate the season for years to come. 

The same goes for accompaniments. Maybe you’ve been saving a rare French mustard, homemade fig jam, or high-end chocolate bar for the right occasion. Now’s the time to enjoy it.

If gourmet accompaniments are on your holiday shopping list, here’s an easy way to save time: Pick up one of our artisan cheese tasting boxes. You can choose from a variety of accompaniments to go with your cheese and gourmet crackers, or go for the full cheese tasting in a box to get charcuterie, preserves, nuts, crackers, olives, chocolate, and cheese all in one. 

Consider Including Cheese Balls, Baked Brie, or Other Holiday Cheese Recipes

pecan bacon rosemary cheese ball

One of our favorite things about cheese boards is that they require almost no prep, making them ideal for entertaining. But if you want to go all out for the holidays, featuring a holiday cheese recipe on your board is the way to go. 

In addition to standalone cheeses and delicious pairings, you can incorporate prepared items like cheese balls, cheese dips, and even baked cranberry brie into your cheese board or holiday menu. Just be sure to give yourself time to mix, shape, or bake your creation so everything is ready when your guests arrive. Happy holiday entertaining! 

Are you planning to serve a festive cheese board for the holidays this year? Tag us @cheesegrotto on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and let us know! 


Alexandra Jones is a writer, cheesemonger, and food educator who has been working with farmers and artisans in Pennsylvania for the past eight years. She has written for publications like Food & Wine, USA Today, The Counter, Civil Eats, Thrillist, and the Philadelphia Inquirer and is one-third of the team behind Collective Creamery, a women-powered artisan cheese subscription based in southeast Pennsylvania. Alexandra leads cheese tastings and teaches cheesemaking classes in and around Philadelphia, and we are honored to have her on our team.

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