At Darcy Miller Designs, we swear by graze boards for entertaining year-round. That’s because they look great, offer options for all your guests, and save time on appetizers and dessert, letting you mingle with friends when you’re hosting, rather than running back and forth to the kitchen. Since that’s especially important at a holiday like Thanksgiving, when you want to spend time with friends and family, here’s our spin on the graze craze with a savory board to kick off your holiday and a sweet one to end it.

Here are our no-fail tips and favorite ways to graze.

-Contain it: Start with any tray that has sides (which makes it easier to stack your snacks inside), and handles (so you can fill it in the kitchen, carry it into the party room, and move around if needed).

-Prep it: Line the tray with parchment paper to make the surface food-safe.

-Map it out: Plan what you’ll place where. You’ll want a few big pieces to take up space, then you can fill in around them.

-Divide it: Keep strong flavors separate; you don’t want bleu cheese, for example, touching other cheeses, meats, bread, or fruit, because it will overpower its neighbors. If you’re going for a stinky smell or powerful taste, corral it in its own dish.

-Play it safe: Avoid allergens. Replace nuts with crunchy seeds, and place gluten-free crackers separate from standard ones or serve them in individual bowls with their own spoon to keep them separate.

-Go high and low. Fill with a variety of sizes and heights for visual interest; put breadsticks or herbs in cups, fruit in compotes.

-Decorate it: Add some non-edible accessories such as flowers or gourds. If it’s a special occasion, bring in seasonal elements (like the downloadable Thankful banner or turkey-topped toothpicks shown here).

-Commemorate it: Once your board is done, snap a photo before people dig in! This way you’ll have a record, and a starting point/visual shopping list next time you build a board, so you can replicate it or mix it up, swapping out elements.

If you love the idea of a graze board, but don’t have time to put it together yourself, pick one up at your local cheese shop or gourmet store or order one sent to you!

Here are some of our favorite sources:



La Tienda

Murray’s Cheese Shop

The Grazing Fox

Whole Foods

Martha igourmet