Next time you’re invited to a dinner party, consider taking cheese and crackers as a host gift instead of — or if you’re feeling generous, as well as — a bottle of wine.
Artisanal cheese and gourmet crackers are an ideal host gift, especially when packaged and presented properly. Your goal here is to go for a casual but pretty vibe. The wrapping shouldn’t be overwrought — it’s not a birthday gift, after all, but just a token of your appreciation for the invite. Some butcher paper and some ribbon, plus a plain gift bag is all you need.
Choose your Cheese + Crackers
Start by picking up a selection of artisanal cheeses and gourmet crackers from your local cheese shop — don’t scrimp, this isn’t the time for getting a deal from the grocery store. Small, local cheese shops are staffed with knowledgeable experts who can help you choose something special and are happy to let you taste-test to find your favourites. I usually just tell them that I like the washed-rind varieties and let them lead me to a few options.
Ask for at least 200 grams each of two or three varieties that complement each other. The cheese-store staff can guide you towards what works together.
Quality cheese shops will also stock a variety of gourmet crackers in plenty of interesting flavours, such as cracked pepper, rosemary, chive and much more. Again, ask the staff to help you pick a brand, type and flavour that will work with the cheeses you’ve selected. When making your choice, also consider the packaging design — a nice box makes for a nicer presentation.
Package it Pretty
If the shop has wrapped your cheese in standard butcher paper, you can leave it packaged as is. Otherwise, unwrap and repackage the cheese: use butcher paper, or layer wax paper inside kraft paper (to protect from grease stains).
Using a Sharpie, write the name of each cheese and the country it is from on the wrapper. Get this info before leaving the cheese shop; sometimes it will say on the receipt, but otherwise ask the staff to write it down for you.
Stack/arrange the wrapped cheeses and box of crackers together and tie a ribbon around the group to create one package. At a minimum, you’ll likely need to cross the ribbon in both directions to keep the items from sliding apart, though you may have to cross in several directions for extra security.
To finish, put the package in a small, plain gift bag (not shown) and tie a short length of matching ribbon — about eight to 14 inches, depending on the width of the ribbon — in a knot around the handle. (There’s no need to add tissue paper to the bag.)
Your host will be delighted to receive delicious artisanal cheeses they can set out as appetizers or an after-dinner course.
Sources*: Ribbon, Sussmans (Toronto).+ Photography by Corinna vanGerwen
*Items might not currently be available.