My husband and I love hosting people at our house, but making delicious food is not one of my talents. Don’t get me wrong, people usually leave our house full, but they rarely ask for a recipe after we’ve finished dinner. With four kids under nine years old, the only variety in our meal rotation is shell or elbow macaroni and cheese.
A little over a year ago, my husband and I hosted an open house in celebration of our son’s baptism. I didn’t want to pay a fortune in catering and I also didn’t want to spend all my time in the kitchen missing conversation while I prepared mediocre food. After scouring Pinterest I came across a picture of a beautiful charcuterie board and realized my non-chef self could construct trays full of fruits, crackers, meats, and olives. I might not be able to cook well, but I can assemble an easy charcuterie board, especially if there’s a picture to follow for inspiration.
But this is where I feel like I had a moment of genius…instead of using multiple trays that would need to be located and then eventually washed and put back away—I covered our table with kraft paper and used the whole table as a charcuterie board.
My very favorite part? Clean up. I pulled off the tape holding the kraft paper from each side of the table, wadded everything into a ball, and tossed it in the trash can. Clean up took less than 10 minutes and I was in my sweats and collapsed on the couch before our last guests left our subdivision.
If you want to create your own charcuterie table during the holiday season (or baby shower, birthday party, or neighborhood gathering) keep these things in mind:
Tips for Creating an Easy Charcuterie Table
Food for the table
Similar to a charcuterie board, the table should be full of cheeses, crackers, meat, olives, pickles, fruit, raw veggies, and anything else that’s colorful, flavorful, and can be eaten without a fork. I usually shop at Aldi because there’s just enough selection without feeling overwhelmed.
A variety of colors makes for a pretty presentation
Strawberries and green grapes pack a punch of color, but even different shades of cheese, crackers, and meat all make a visual difference. I’ve also used colorful mini sweet peppers, blueberries, celery, and wrapped mini chocolates to add color. Chocolate-dipped pretzels and decorated cookies can also add texture and color.
Label the food
It’s hard to guess different types of flavored cheeses without a sign, but the benefit of kraft paper is writing the name of each food right on the paper.
Get the whole family involved
I assembled the table about 30 minutes before the party so the food could be fresh. Most of the prep work involves opening containers or unwrapping food so it’s not difficult, but produce needs to be washed and cut. My daughters helped wash the fruit and cut the strawberries and our whole family helped assemble the table. It took about 20 minutes to arrange the food.
Find a picture for inspiration and go for it!
Even if your table doesn’t look exactly like your inspiration, chances are it will still be colorful, filling, and cost effective. I’ve found that I can create a full charcuterie table for less than $100.
One day, when my kids eat something other than macaroni and cheese, I’ve promised myself I’ll take a cooking class and host neighborhood gatherings with homemade lasagna, but until then I’ll rely on this holiday hack to make the most of my time and budget.