Meg Quinn
CNN —  

In case you missed it, cheese boards are mega-popular right now. The trend that took over the US and beyond a couple of years ago is nowhere near slowing down. Search #cheeseboard on Instagram and more than 600,000 posts of gorgeous, bountiful cheese board ideas appear. A whole lot more than a plate of plain ol’ cheese and crackers, cheese boards today encompass everything from charcuterie and veggies to fruits, dips, nuts, honeys, chocolates in addition to soft and hard fromages.

To help get ready for holiday get-togethers, we talked to blogger/influencer Ain’t Too Proud to Meg’s Meg Quinn. Each week Meg, who lives in Los Angeles and quit a decade-long career in entertainment marketing to pursue design, showcases ways to create, layer and add texture to cheese boards to her 172,000 followers. The cheese board extraordinaire told us, however, that she stumbled into her current career. “I love entertaining, but I don’t know how to cook,” Meg told CNN Underscored. “Cheese boards have always been my trick, my way to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. They’re beautiful and they taste great — and most importantly, they look impressive. So much so, that my guests aren’t really thinking about the fact that I didn’t have to cook anything!”

Yes, cheese boards are primed for the holiday entertaining coming down the pike, but Meg said the communal aspect of her boards are also perfect for cozy nights in with friends year-round. “For me and my girlfriends, life is really busy, so when we can carve out time to hang together, it’s about enjoying quality time together,” she explains. “And you know what? At a restaurant, you really only catch up with the person next to you. Instead, we now go to one another’s house and make a big cheese board. It’s the central character — we’re all gathered around the board, grazing, laughing and truly catching up.”

Meg gave us her cheat sheet to creating a spectacular board and shared the exact tools she uses, day in and day out. The key, she says, is presentation. “It’s all about the presentation. Guests eat with their eyes. Keep your board’s color palette in mind and add bigger ingredients like seasonal fruits to take up space.” Another must: “Cut all hard cheese ahead of time,” Meg says. “Because no one wants to cut the hard cheeses for themselves — they will avoid it like the plague. Once cut up, you can crisscross the slices or fan them and it will add great texture to your board.”

Check out Meg’s must-haves below — all of which she used in the OMG-level gorgeous board below — and you’ll be well on your way to creating your very own ‘Gram-worthy board in no time.

J.K. Adams 1761 Collection Large Round Ash Cutting/Serving Board ($107, amazon.com)

“The perfect size for a large gathering, this 19-inch board is so beautiful and is one of my favorites that I own. And lightweight, too. You tend to put a lot of things on the board and it can be really heavy and if you’re transporting it from room to room, it’s much easier with a lighter board.”

Mr.Art Wood Mini Wooden Appetizer Tongs, Pack of 4 ($14.99, amazon.com)

“When I host, it’s laid back and people use their hands, but when it’s a bigger gathering, it’s nice to have some tongs on the board to encourage people not to use their hands to grab olives or salami.

6-ounce Ramekin Bowls, Set of 8 ($14.80, amazon.com)

“Ramekins are essential!” Meg uses them for “items with a brine on them, such as olives or cornichons, so that brine doesn’t leak onto other items on the board.”

Bee Seasonal Harvest 001 Certified Organic & Raw Honey Gift Set ($27.99, amazon.com)

“Putting items that are more artisanal or more unexpected onto your board is key, and honey is the perfect compliment to cheese. I like this pack because there are four and they are the perfect size for a board, they don’t take up too much space. Also, they make a great hostess gift!”

HIC Honey and Syrup Dipper Stick ($8.49, amazon.com)

“First, they’re super cute and they’re essential for an Instagram boomerang. IG aside, though, this stick makes it easy to drizzle the perfect amount of honey onto a piece of cheese.”

Jammy Yummy Cheese Lovers Pack ($29.97, amazon.com)

“I really like this company, Jammy Yummy. They have a great sampling of savory ones that are unexpected, like the red pepper. Pair it with brie and it’s so lovely. I love providing conversation points for my guests. These interesting jams give people something to talk about.”

Freehawk 4-Piece Set of Cheese Knives ($12.99, amazon.com)

“A good set of cheese knives is imperative for your board and, this is the perfect variety pack. It includes all the shapes you need and it’s also affordable,” Meg explains. “FYI: The rule is one knife for each cheese, you’re not supposed to mix them.”

HansGo Small Wooden Spoons 6-Piece Set ($8.99, amazon.com)

“I love to use these when I include a dip — it helps people to not double dip! And a regular-sized spoon looks way too big.”

Handmade Juniper Wood Butter Knife ($14.99, amazon.com)

“This knife is great for a soft cheese, one where it’s ooey and gooey, and spreadable.”

Mevell Food Grade Mineral Oil for Cutting Boards ($9.99, amazon.com)

“I get a lot of questions about how to take care of your board. In terms of washing them, you never want to soak the boards for a long time or put them in the dishwasher. After a while boards do get dried out, though, and this mineral oil is great for putting the moisture back in there.”

Formaticum Cheese Storage Bags, Set of 30 ($17.50, amazon.com)

“These bags are huge, I’m obsessed with them. The best way to keep your cheese fresher longer is via these bags and not Saran wrap or tin foil! The bags regulate humidity so the cheese isn’t too moist or dry. They’re great for board leftovers, or if I want to have a variety of cheeses on my board, I’ll divide all of them and use half one night and half another night and store them in these bags in the meantime.”

Crate & Barrel The Full Spread Cheese Selection Box ($159.95, crateandbarrel.com)

“If you’re looking for a one-stop shop in terms of items to make a cheese board — or a fun gift for a cheese lover — this box is your answer. It has all the cheeses, crackers and accoutrements you need to create an epic cheese board. Just add some fresh produce and garnish. See how I styled the box below!”

Want more board options? Meg loves these, too:

JK Adams 1761 Large Rectangular Cutting Board ($99.95, crateandbarrel.com)

“This is for a huge spread, when you’re entertaining a larger crowd. It’s my favorite rectangle board for a really big group.” (For more intimate gatherings, it comes in a smaller size, too.)

Sur la Table Rectangular Marble Serving Board ($24.95, surlatable.com)

“To switch it up, it’s always nice to use marble for a fancier feel, like over the holidays, for example. It’s definitely elevated, and this one is smaller, making it a great option to put out before a dinner party.”

Sur la Table Mango Wood Board ($60, surlatable.com)

“This is an affordable, quality board. And it’s BIG. At 20 inches in size, this is a great value. See how I styled it here.”

Ironwood Gourmet Acacia Wood Round Provencale Paddle Round ($22.36, amazon.com)

“If you’re just getting started with cheese boards, this is on the smaller size (12 inches) and perfect for a light cheese board for 4-6 people before a big meal.”

Boska Holland Life Collection Round Wood Cheese Board with Handle ($89.99, amazon.com)

“These boards are super sturdy and great for entertaining at home. When not in use, they’re a nice, rustic addition to your kitchen décor.”

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.