April 02, 2021 4 min read
Since the start of shelter-in-place mandates, our parties and celebrations have had to tone down a lot. It's been quite a turn for those of us who love to entertain at home (us at Gear Den included!). With fewer friends being able to attend our brunches and dinners, we now have the challenge of planning our parties so that they are still truly enjoyable despite being smaller.
But here's a fantastic silver lining: one of the biggest lifestyle trends to come out in recent years are charcuterie parties, a.k.a. wine and cheese parties. They're so classy and relaxed at the same time, and they're gorgeously Instagrammable!
Here's a quick and easy primer on wine-and-cheese parties, and steps to throw a fabulous charcuterie party at your own home.
"Charcuterie" (pronounced like shar-koo-tree) sounds very fancy-pants, but it broadly just refers to the culinary branch of meat preparation and preservation. "Charcuterie" is also a collective term for the foods that go into this area. Think deli meats, cold cuts, preserved meat items, and the cheeses, breads, and fruits that go with them.
Charcuterie boards (or meat platters, or cheese boards) have been a key feature at events for a while now, but they're particularly special during this time of small private gatherings. They're a bit synonymous to "grazing sets" -- those buffet-style tables filled with light dishes that guests can help themselves to over a longer period of time (like a leisurely afternoon).
These days, beautiful get-togethers are planned around charcuterie sets. Picture a rustic table setting of meats and cheeses, with a few select friends gathered 'round to toast the occasion. The ambiance is very pretty but also intimate and meaningful. It makes for a lovely birthday celebration, anniversary dinner, engagement dinner, or just a nice cozy catch-up session.
Traditionally, we'd say, "Decide on a theme," but in a charcuterie party, your meat platter is the star of the show. There are endless combinations of meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, and crudités that you can put together on a nice wooden meat board. But to make sure that your platter actually works, it helps to know a little about food pairings -- i.e. which wine goes with which meats and cheeses. A quick google can give you plenty of insight for this; we found a pretty comprehensive food pairing guide from Wine Magazine.
A good thing about charcuterie gatherings is that they can range from formal dinners to friendly get-togethers. In your invitations, let your guests know how formal (or informal) the party will be. Mention whether it will be a small sit-down meal, a grazing party where guests can mingle, or a picnic-style gathering. If you're only inviting friends and family, a paper invite may not be necessary but it would be a nice touch!
Your charcuterie table will be the main focal point of the event, so table-setting is essential. Many party-planners would tell you that low tables surrounded by pillow seating are the most charming dining arrangements -- and we agree! However, this really depends on how formal or cozy your party should be.
For a sit-down dinner, your classic dining table set is fine. For a mingling party, you can opt to set up a buffet-style grazing table. Whichever setting you go with, spend time and effort decorating the tabletop. Wine-and-cheese menus really inspire a charming Mediterranean atmosphere, so have some botanical centerpieces, wooden dinnerware, and natural table textiles. And of course, choose an attractive wooden board as a vessel for your meats.
As you can probably tell already, ambiance is a major element of charcuterie parties, so you'll want to decorate well. Whether your gathering space is indoor or outdoor, we have just one word for you: rustic. Forgo the bright, plasticky materials of modern decor, and opt instead for natural textures such as wood, stone, florals, and wovens. In terms of color, calm neutral shades and earth tones look best. Be inspired by the colors of your charcuterie foods!
To start you off, take a look at our rustic wall accents (above and below).
Wall art pictured above: Personalized "There's Always Something To Be Thankful" Premium Canvas V2
Wall art pictured above: "This Is Us - Our Life, Our Story, Our Home" Premium Panoramic Canvas
Wall art pictured above: "The Best Memories Made Around The Table" Premium Canvas
Wine and cheese parties are usually rife with sparkling conversations and laughter. Enjoy your select company and your good food! To add one last touch to your gathering, play some nice background music. Louis Armstrong, anyone?
Inspired now to throw your own charcuterie party? We at Gear Den are excited, too! For more decorating ideas for your wine-and-cheese party, check out our eco-friendly party tips here and here, plus our rustic decorating suggestions here. Or, if you're ready to decorate, browse our fantastic home decor items at GearDen.com!
Cheers to lovely get-togethers!
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