Whether you’re throwing, attending or crashing a party, one of the best things to serve or bring with you this time of year is a cheese board.

When it comes to putting a board together, it’s actually pretty easy to make yourself look good. You don’t have to be the guy that brings the port-wine cheese ball on a paper plate. Instead, put together a nice selection of cheeses, place them on an attractive wooden, marble or slate cheese board, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be greeted with the enthusiasm of one of the magi.

Consider one of these three cheese board presentations:

1. The Traditional Cheese Board
This board features five different cheeses, each from a different category. Find an attractive wooden board and place ¼ pound of each of the below cheeses, each wrapped in parchment paper or special cheese paper available at specialty cheese shops.

•    La-Von Farmhouse Brie, Caprine Supreme (bloomy rind)
•    Marieke Golden, Holland’s Family Cheese (semi-soft)
•    Widmer’s 6-Year Cheddar, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars (semi-hard)
•    Ocooch Mountain, Hidden Springs Creamery (hard)
•    Buttermilk Blue, Emmi Roth USA (blue)

Add a nice cheese knife, a package of Potter’s Crackers, and voila: instant cheese gift.

2. Celebrating Different Milks
Your friends and family may not be overly familiar with cheeses not made from cow’s milk, so this isn’t the time to introduce them to a bold, stinky goat cheese. Try some milder versions instead, such as:

•    Chandoka, LaClare Farms (goat/cow mix)
•    Pastoral Blend, Sartori (sheep/cow mix)
•    Dante, Wisconsin Sheep Dairy Co-op (sheep)
•    Billy Blue, Carr Valley Cheese (goat)

Add a fresh baguette and jar of Quince & Apple’s Pear with Ginger and Honey to compliment the Billy Blue and Chandoka. Your friends will thank you.

3. Cheddar, Four Different Ways
This is one of my favorite ways to do a cheese board. Pick one of your favorite cheeses, and then purchase four different versions, made by four different companies or with different milks. Cheddar is one of the easiest ways to do accomplish this method. For example, include on your board:

•    Bandaged Cheddar, Bleu Mont Dairy (bandaged)
•    10-Year Cheddar, Hook’s Cheese (extra aged)
•    Goat Cheddar, LaClare Farms (goat’s milk)
•    Timothy’s Farmhouse Cheddar, Kelley Country Creamery (traditional Wisconsin cow’s milk Cheddar)

Add a bag of spiced pecans from the Treat Bake Shop in Milwaukee and a package of Toasted Wheat crackers, and you’re all set.

Happy new year!