These beautiful, mouthwatering fruit, cheese, charcuterie and veggie boards may just steal the show—they're the perfect hands-off food solution for your next graduation party or summer celebration.

May 18, 2018

The recipe for a perfect graduation party is visually stunning boards filled with abundant and beautiful nibbles. These grab-what-you-want appetizer platters are a great choice for a graduation party because they can accommodate a large crowd. Young guests will be drawn to the vibrant colors and the overflowing displays of food (Instagram gold!). Plus, all that gorgeous food also happens to be good for you, making it more satisfying than bowls of chips and snack mixes.

These boards look impressive but they are actually very easy to assemble once you let your creativity run free. They are so pretty that you will get "oohs and ahhs," yet they are "self serve" so you can enjoy the party! (Do make sure to have extra ingredients on hand to fill in the platters as needed.)

How to Make an Appetizer Board

1. Pick a Theme

To begin, pick a theme for each board you want to create-such as charcuterie, fruit and/or crudités with dip.

2. Get Your Ingredients

You will need an assortment of cheeses, deli meats, fruits, vegetables, dips, nuts, olives, herbs, crackers, cookies and chocolate. When choosing your food, pick out a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

3. Choose Serveware

Choose large pretty boards or platters in a variety of materials like wood, marble or ceramic. Rectangular or oval shapes work particularly well to display the food. Grab a couple of small, pretty bowls for things that can't go directly on the board, such as dip and melted chocolate, or for "runaway" foods like nuts and olives.

4. Assemble the Boards

Start by placing blocks of color and all of your largest ingredients first, such as wedges of cheese or a certain color fruit. Then fill in around each one, playing with rows, swirls and color to give them an organic, rustic feeling. Fill up all the space and avoid empty areas by placing small items, such as blueberries, olives or herbs, into them, and add rows all the way up to the edge of the trays. There is no right or wrong way to do this, so remember it doesn't have to be perfect. Just have fun and be creative!

Appetizer Board Ideas to Try

Cheese & Charcuterie Board

Everybody loves cheese, so this is a popular one! Make sure you have an extra stash to replace each cheese as it gets low.

What you need:

  • A minimum of 3 to 4 types of cheese. (Pick your favorites, but at least one hard, one soft and one herbed. Sliced cheeses add a nice look too. Plan to have 1 to 1 1/2 ounces per person.)
  • An assortment of meats, such as thinly sliced salami and prosciutto or ham. (Plan to have 1 to 1 1/2 ounces per person.) Lay each meat out in a different manner by folding or rolling it.
  • A variety of crackers in various shapes and sizes. You can add flatbread and breadsticks, too-whatever strikes your fancy. (Get enough for each person to have 6 to 8 crackers.)
  • Add some vegetables and fruits, such as radishes, grapes and cherry tomatoes, for a dash of color.
  • Include a few small, pretty bowls on the platter. (One can be filled with assorted nuts and another with olives.)
  • Assorted dried fruits to add here and there.
  • Herbs or arugula to fill the spaces and to add a garden-fresh look.

Veggies & Dip Board

Dips are fun, and here is where you can play with a variety of beautiful crunchy vegetables in unique shapes and colors. (Have plenty of extra dip on hand in the fridge.)

What you need:

  • A variety of crunchy vegetables, including at least one of each color. Almost any crunchy vegetable will work. Slice them into various shapes to be used as dippers. Try these:
    • Green: broccoli, snap peas, cucumber, celery
    • White: fennel, cauliflower florets
    • Orange: carrots, orange bell peppers
    • Pink & purple: watermelon radishes, beets
    • Red: cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers
  • Add at least two dips, including one hummus. I used a vibrant orange red pepper hummus and a creamy ranch dip.
  • Assorted crackers or breadsticks that can be used as dippers
  • Olives, chickpeas and fresh herbs or greens for decoration

Fruit & Chocolate Dessert Board

There is always room for dessert! Fruit makes it healthy and colorful, while chocolate dip makes it extra delicious and fun!

What you need:

  • An assortment of berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries
  • Grapes and citrus slices to add pretty color to the platter
  • Dark chocolate chips to be melted and used to dip some fruit and cookies into
  • Whole strawberries, sliced bananas and sliced kiwis for dipping into the melted chocolate
  • Assorted butter cookies (dip some into the melted chocolate)
  • Dried fruits to fill in gaps (you can dip some in chocolate too)
  • Fresh mint sprigs to be used as a garnish
  • A small bowl of nuts to add a salty touch to the platter

How to Serve the Appetizer Boards

Make a nice arrangement of your boards on a long table with plenty of plates, napkins and utensils for guests to take from the boards to enjoy. You can make as many boards as you need according to the number of people you expect. If you have a lot of boards, you may want to play around with some being higher than others. Garden-picked flowers here and there will add a nice touch. Just have fun, be creative and keep it all fresh and colorful.

Watch: How to Make a Spread of Rainbow Hummus