I come by my cheese obsession rightfully. In many families, Thanksgiving dinner is about finally finding a turkey recipe that isn’t dry and attempting to avoid an argument over the next presidential election, even when it’s still a year away. In my family, Thanksgiving is about “the cheeses”—15 to 20 of them, typically. Each is assigned a number that corresponds to a legend my uncle prints out so everyone can read up on their favorites and swap notes. While I still haven’t managed a spread of that scale in my Brooklyn apartment, I never entertain without cheese, and rarely go a day without at least a nibble.
Like most cheese lovers, I’m thrilled when a friend shows up at my place with a wedge of a 3-year-old Comté or a petit goat cheese like Le Chevrot as a gift at any time of year, but holiday gift giving should be a bit extra. If you’re shopping for one of your Parm obsessed pals (you can also call us), consider splurging on a cheese knife set from Wüsthof or a subscription to Jasper Hill Farm’s cheese club. You could also succumb to your kitschy tendencies and send a Swiss cheese-inspired candle or a turntable-shaped cheese board in the mail, or simply be extra thoughtful by showing up to our holiday party with a bag of ice and a few boxes of Raincoast Crisps.
If the cheese lover in your life is yourself, feel free to “accidentally” drop this link in the group chat.
Get Them Into the Club
The Vermont-based cheesemakers behind the cult favorite Harbison give members of their club access to cheeses you won’t likely find in your neighborhood. Expect ones like a Harbison washed in Sandeman port, a spooky edition of Moses Sleeper with an ash rind, or cheeses under development, which the team calls “conundrums.” Each shipment includes at least three cheeses and a couple of pairings like pickled ramps made in collaboration with Pitchfork Pickle, smoked trout from Fishwife, or charcuterie from Fra’ Mani. You can order one month or several.
Murray’s cheese board club is perfect for your cousin who loves to entertain, but isn’t going to go down a YouTube rabbit hole to figure out how to style a cheese board. Each box includes four or five cheeses, charcuterie like Brooklyn Cured’s finocchiona, accompaniments like crackers and olives, and crucially, an easy visual guide to building and styling a cheese board.
Even Cheeses Need Friends
No cheeseboard is complete without fresh fruit, but sourcing the good stuff during the winter can be tough. A few years ago, my best friend turned me on to Frog Hollow Farm and I joined a legion of fans like Alice Waters. Their mixed organic fruit boxes, which are sourced from their farm and their partners in California, come in a few sizes at price points ranging from three pounds for $39.99 to 10 pounds for $103.99. Depending on the season, the selection might include fruits like pears, blood oranges, or pluots.
Some cheese lovers are too particular to allow someone else to choose their cheeses, so let them handle the selection while you provide a charcuterie accompaniment from Portland’s Olympia Provisions. This box has Italian, Spanish, French, and Greek-style salamis, including a sweet and smoky chorizo rioja and loukanika, a Greek-style salami with cumin, garlic, and orange that’s based on owner and salumist Elias Ciaro’s family recipe.
Think of great crackers like a bag of ice: essential to a party, but easily overlooked. Show up with either (or both!) and you can expect to be invited back every year. Raincoast Crisps are extra crunchy, don’t leave a trail of crumbs behind, and have elements of a cheeseboard like fig and olives, or dried cranberries and hazelnuts baked in.
Up Their Serving Game
No, your audiophile friend can’t use this turntable to play records, but it will make a fun centerpiece for the appetizer spread at their next party. Plus, the “needle” doubles as a slicer. If your friends are the type to go all out designing their cheeseboard for the gram, stick with a simpler slab from, which comes with chalk so they can label their offerings.
Cheese boards are like restaurant baseball caps—you need several with varying looks for different occasions. These walnut cutting boards with a live edge are simple and dark enough that the cheeses will stand out easily, but when the boards aren’t being used, they look like pieces of art. The maker works with responsible loggers in the Northeast, and they help plant a new tree for every one they use.
I’m not sure what prompted my grandmother to mail me a few of her beautiful cheese knives many years ago, but I love to use them when I’m hosting. Ideally, cheese obsessives should have two sets of cheese knives: one to show off for guests, and one to stay in the kitchen and do the heavy lifting. Thefrom Brooklyn-based studio Fredericks & Mae is perfect for putting on display. For a more professional option, there’s set, which includes a hard cheese knife with a nonstick element on the side of the blade, a classic soft cheese knife with holes, and the German company’s take on a Parmesan knife. is a more affordable alternative that’s designed to allow for a firm grip, which comes in handy when you’re cutting harder cheeses.
Books on Cheese
by late American-made cheese champion Anne Saxelby is a fun, approachable, and informative book to read by the fire over the holidays. It outlines rules for storing and caring for cheese, guidance for beverage pairings, and recipes for cheeses on the edge like fridge nubs mac and cheese. For your partner who really wants to nerd out on cheese, there’s by Paul Kindstedt, who recently retired from teaching courses in the science and technology of cheesemaking and the history of cheese at the University of Vermont.
Like BA’s commerce editor Carina Finn, I’ve been curious, but a bit skeptical, about cheese grottos. She wondered: “Was I really so cheese-obsessed that I needed an entire fridge accessory dedicated to cheese storage? Then I remembered that I bring a cooler every time I’m near, so, yes. I love the ability to store my cheeses unwrapped, and I do find that they stay fresher, longer.” Consider me converted
Something Extra Cheesy
Many of our favorite cheesy after-school snacks from Cheez-It to Goldfish and Babybel get the watercolor treatment in this cheerful poster. Get it for your little brother who just moved into his first “grown-up” apartment.
We are living in the glory days of food-shaped candles. Part pop art piece, part functional light for a party, you can order this cheese wedge unscented or with a scent like olive and figs, or citrus. There’s no cheese scent option, but that’s perhaps for the best.
For an elevated decorative gift, go with this petite brie, blue cheese, and Swiss glass ornament that sparkles.