When you can’t handle all of the people in your house for the holidays (so many damn people), it’s OK to hide in the bathroom… permission-slash-solidarity granted. But at some point, someone is going to get hungry — and you are a lot of things, but a shitty host is not one of them. What you need is a Christmas charcuterie board. Don’t sweat; I’m not talking about the Pinterest-y charcuterie boards of your nightmares. There are actually easy charcuteries, too. Ones that don’t require wine-glass salami roses (*snear*) or star-shaped cheeses (*side eye*).
As a matter of fact, the original purpose of charcuterie boards was to make life a little easier. Somewhere along the way, though, someone went full Martha on those planks of pine, and suddenly the whole flippin’ universe started treating charcuterie like you could win a Michelin star for it. Spoiler alert: You can’t. (Seriously, look it up. There are no charcuterie restaurants with Michelin stars.)
When it’s lunchtime or three hours after dinner and suddenly everyone is starving again, you need a quick, hearty answer. That answer can be found on a wooden cutting board, a marble slab, or any other flat, movable surface you have lying around. Hey, man, put that turkey-etched pretty platter to good use one more time (for a total of two times) this year. Who’s stopping you? Martha ain’t lookin’.
1. The Leftovers Board
Turn that leftover turkey everyone is so “sick of” into something new and fun. By stacking up those slices of turkey and giving a few more cuts (go for 2-inch to 4-inch squares), you’ve already taken things up a notch. (And a good knife will really, really help make those slices go faster.) Use whatever cheese you have on hand and get it to roughly the same size as the turkey. Toss out some crackers. You don’t have to use the fancy ones if you don’t have any: Ritz and Saltines will do. Bread also works, or maybe a stack of those leftover rolls.
Next, toss a few “spreads” into some ramekins (or schmear them directly on the board). This can be anything from seedy mustard and Miracle Whip to that cranberry sauce and some of last night’s leftover pesto. There are no wrong answers.
2. The Crisper Drawer Dump
- Vegetables that haven’t rotted yet
- Fruit that isn’t mushy
- Sure, add some crackers, too
WTF do you have going on in those bottom drawers of your fridge? What fresh produce did you buy two weeks ago that is just north of inedible? Make the salvageable fruit and veggies you find bite-sized and pile them into your board. Add “dips” like Ranch, hummus, yogurt, cream cheese, or, you know, more Ranch. In the words of every Italian guy in a movie, “Bada-boom, Bada-bing!”
3. Forgotten Advent Calendar Goodies, Mail-Order Treat Gifts, & Halloween Candy
- Unwrapped chocolates
- Tiny cheeses
- Imported citrus slices
Is this a balanced meal? No. But the main holiday meal is like two meals in one, anyway. Let them eat advent calendar leftovers! Plus, if they’re really lucky, you’re sharing that enormous Harry & David treat tower that your boss sent you. Or the Florida oranges and grapefruit from your family down south. Roses are optional. Hearing complaints? Take away the chocolate. They don’t deserve it.
4. Pizza Charcuterie Board
- Italian cheeses
- Tomato slices
- Marinara sauce
- Crackers, breads, or mini bagels
With a mix of leftover hors d’oeuvres and pizza-night pantry staples, you can very easily make a pizza charcuterie board to set out for the fam-bam. Want to really make everyone happy? Throw on some actual slices of pizza (fresh or leftover).
5. Veggie Tray Charcuterie
- Baby carrots
- Broccoli florets
- Cucumber slices
This requires a bit more planning, but did you know that nearly every grocery store on the planet sells premade charcuterie boards? It’s true! They come in plastic trays, and all the veggies are already prepped to bite sizes. They usually even come with a dip or two. Grab one or two when you make your last pre-holiday grocery run and save it for a moment of desperation. Bonus: You can also buy a grocery-made cheese and crackers platter, too. Once you toss it all onto your “fancy” wooden board, no one is going to call you out.
6. Butter Board
- Fruit Spread
Butter boards are quite possibly the weirdest thing to come out of the charcuterie trend. They’re also the most delicious, honestly. Take that leftover butter from your cookie-baking spree and spread it onto part of your board. You can be as intentional or haphazard as you like. While some people go ahead and doctor their butter boards for everyone to have the same flavor, why not let your guests design their own? Use ramekins or pinch bowls nestled among the butter to offer your family butter mix-ins, like honey, fruit spreads, or herbs. You can arrange the crackers on the same board or set them in a nearby bowl. Let your in-laws mix and match to their hearts’ content.
7. Will It Queso? Board
- Queso cheese dip
- Various chips, crackers, and pretzels
- Cheese quesadillas cut into strips (only if you’re feeling squirrelly)
Everything tastes good dipped in cheese, right? Give everyone their own spoons and tiny plates and let them experiment. What works and what doesn’t? Adding salsa, too, is a nice touch because it gives everyone a chance to add more heat to their queso.
8. Melting Pot Charcuterie
- Warmed, dippable chocolate
- Soft, melty cheese
- Ritz crackers
- Pre-cooked sausage slices
- Pound cake hunks
- Rice Krispy Treats
Fondu. You’re serving fondu. But you’re putting it on a wooden board, so you’re calling it charcuterie. Check out the menu at the famous Melting Pot restaurant for even more ideas on what to include on your board.