The holidays are synonymous with entertaining, and while it’s always fun to be a guest, there’s nothing like opening up your home to your nearest and dearest and playing host for the night. To get the party started, we caught up with Bristol Farms for some tried and true tips on preparing everyone’s favorite, effortless hors d'oeuvre: the perfect charcuterie board.

There are good charcuterie boards, and there are great charcuterie boards. How does one go about preparing a truly exceptional version?

A great charcuterie board should be diverse in terms of flavor profile and texture. Pick a hard-style robust salami, a softer, salt-cured ham like Prosciutto, and then throw in 1-2 rich and smooth Pâtés and/or terrines that will make for the perfect spread to some crusty bread. You can stick to meats all from the same region (ie: Italian cured meats) or mix it up with a selection from Italy, Spain, and France.

What about cheese? What’s the perfect trio?  

When it comes to cheese, the same rules follow. You want a selection of young and aged as well as soft and hard. We like a perfectly balanced aged Gouda, hard and nutty Manchego, and a truffle-infused Brie. And, if you’re serving wine, you’ll want to be sure that the wine can stand up to an especially creamy (ie: French Brie) or strong cheese (ie: Gorgonzola).

Other than meats and cheeses, what additional accompaniments make for an excellent spread?

In addition to some crusty bread or crackers, be sure to include 2-3 small accompaniments for a delightful contrast. Charcuterie “add-ons” like whole grain mustard, fig jam, almonds, grapes, and olives will help balance out the meaty, salty, and rich items.

How much is too much?

Mind the quantities; if you’re serving charcuterie as a party appetizer, we suggest sticking to about 3 ounces of meat and cheese (total) per person. If you’re serving it as a main course, 6 ounces per person is sufficient. Remember, though, that it’s always best to have leftovers rather than not enough.

Presentation is everything—do you have tips for arranging the perfect charcuterie display?

Make snacking easy on your guests and slice the meats and cheeses ahead of time (no more than an hour before eating). Leave some of the unsliced portions of meat and cheese on the board if there’s enough room. Arrange the hard cheese slices in accordion like stacks and the meats in twirled or in lightly folded sections. If you’re serving Pâté, add a single large dollop of it on the board next to the bread or crackers. Make use of small ramekins for olives, jams, etc. to create height and a more organized spread. 

To pre-order Bristol Farms main and premium side dishes for your holiday party or family dinner, visit For more Bristol Farms tips and guidance through the holidays, visit your local Bristol Farms and pick up the Bristol Farms 2018 Holiday Guide.