Looking for a relatively easy way to look fancy at your next get-together? Designing delicious and visually appealing charcuterie and crudité platters is an artform all its own — with each one comprising its own bonafide branch of French cuisine — but when life gets busy, saving yourself the cooking part is a good trick to have up your sleeve. Here are some of our favorite ideas from around the web for making a charcuterie or crudité platter that people will remember.

1. Choose a Star Ingredient

Sometimes just adding a unique, surprising element to your charcuterie or crudité is enough to make it feel special. We love the New Year’s Eve snack board by Lori, author of the blog Foxes Love Lemons. Her surprise ingredient? Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Wantons (recipe included). Though the wantons add a more substantial, homemade feel, they were the only thing she made herself — everything else she purchased ready to go at the store.

2. Focus on the Cheese Flavors

“Charcuterie” actually refers to the meat portion of the charcuterie platter, while “crudités” are the chopped vegetables. But cheeses offer a range of distinct, diverse flavors to accent either one, and can be game-changers no matter what your focus is for the rest of the board. Focus on bringing contrast in texture and flavor to your board with the cheeses, using this cheese guide from Real Simple to prep yourself for the grocery store run.

3. Aim for Balance

When putting together a platter of all the good things in life, it’s tempting to want to go crazy with the amount of combinations. But according to Greg Blais, meat and cheese expert at Eataly NYC, there is a guiding principle to all this fun after all: balance. Contrast salty cured meats with fruit, pickled vegetables, cheeses, and jams. You can even create dimension within your meat and cheese selections — offer both cured and cooked, try different slice thicknesses, and play with spiciness and mouthfeel.

4. Use Blanched or Pickled Veggies

When it comes to parties, the raw veggie plate you can buy at the grocery store is usually the last to go. After all, does anyone ever finish that raw broccoli section?

But vegetables don’t have to be boring — challenge yourself to make the vegetable addition to your platter as interesting and vibrant as possible. Sandy, author of the Reluctant Entertainer blog, suggest blanching your green vegetables, not only for a sharper and bolder flavor, but to bring out the appealing deep green tones that make the vegetables stand out. You can also select pickled vegetables that pair well with meats and cheeses, as well as add their own distinct flavor.

5. Focus on the Presentation

Truly, the key to creating a classy platter of finger foods that stands out at any gathering is paying attention to aesthetics. Play with colorful vegetables, unique slicing styles, and fun plating designs. Remember that garnish is your friend. And don’t be afraid to get creative!

Of course, choosing a festive, practical serving dish can bring life to any charcuterie, crudité, or snack platter. Check out some of our durable, versatile platters from Crow Canyon Home!