Inviting Kitchens Where Guests Gather and the Appetizer That Keeps Them Coming Back

Party guests tend to congregate in the kitchen, and this holiday season we’re all about an eye-catching spread worthy of the space it’s served in. An essential for any fete, the charcuterie board can be a stand-alone appetizer or the showpiece among an array of hors d’oeuvres.

We’ve laid out some creative ideas for putting your own board together along with quick catering options. And what better backdrop than a kitchen that accommodates the host and guests with an aesthetic as appealing as the snacks.

2663 N. Marshfield Ave., Chicago, IL — $1,825,000

Central to this Lincoln Park single family home is its eat-in kitchen with oversized island and built-in butcher block – perfect for meal prep or a charcuterie board. A coffee bar and custom cabinets are at once useful and chic. Quartz countertops complement a counter-to-ceiling back splash and farmhouse sink, while a Sub-Zero refrigerator, six-burner range, and wall oven are a gourmand’s dream.

But with a charcuterie board full of bite-sized noshes, you can leave the ovens off. For your board, start with a variety of meats, cheeses, and crackers, and mix your display with items that balance their saltiness. Experiment with fruits – fresh or dried – as well as spreads, dips, and nuts. This is an opportunity to add color, arranging berries and grapes in and around the display. Your board is your culinary palate – and the more guests you’re entertaining, the more creativity you can showcase.

347 S. Columbia St., Naperville, IL – $1,750,000

Not only is the massive chef’s kitchen in this Naperville home exquisite for gathering around to enjoy charcuterie and apps, but there is a large wine cellar and wet bar on the lower level that expands the space for entertaining. The kitchen boasts a double-wide Sub-Zero refrigerator and dual Wolf ranges. Granite countertops, an oversized island, contrasting cabinets, and butler’s pantry add to the modern elegance of the room.

In a home where guests can congregate in multiple spaces for food and drink, having your charcuterie catered keeps entertaining easier. Foxtrot offers boards in two sizes, as well as a variety of wine and beer selections.

736 Upper Brookwood Dr., Fontana, WI – $1,250,000

With access to Geneva Lake, you’ll be entertaining year ‘round in this home. But when the winter months don’t allow your guests to linger outside for long, the open-concept kitchen features a bar that doubles as a buffet for easy snacking and socializing. Updated appliances, ship-lap walls and vaulted cedar plank ceilings give this kitchen and living area an inviting ambiance for any occasion.

You’ll have no trouble creating a charcuterie comprised of the best local cheeses and meats with several dairy farms and cheese stores based in Lake Geneva. Hill Valley Dairy and Cheese Shop has an impressive selection of cheeses made on site, and The Cheese Box offers meats, cheeses, party trays, wine, and gift boxes sourced locally for over 80 years.

13120 Royal Dune, New Buffalo, MI – $1,695,000

Woodland views along with Prairie-style windows and millwork contribute to the rustic charm of this New Buffalo, Mich., home. The kitchen’s high-end appliances, quartz countertops, and oversized island create functional appeal that any chef will appreciate. With an adjacent sitting area and dining room with large picture windows, entertaining is easy any time of year, but especially beautiful during the holidays.

Cozy up as the snow falls and enjoy a holiday treat or two. Hardly limited to savory snacks, charcuterie boards can include dessert as well. Layer your favorite cookies with holiday candies, fruits, and sweet dips. Or create a board with graham crackers, chocolate selections, and marshmallows to enjoy s’mores by the fire – inside or out!

Written by Angie Sell