Holiday receptions are back with sweet, savory and oh so cheesy ideas

Real California Milk Helps Impress Guests with California Cheese Centerpiece and Cookie Exchange Board

(Family Features) This holiday season, the fun is back on the table and that means endless opportunities to showcase Instagram-worthy ideas. For those looking to impress friends and family, Real California Milk offers two unique culinary ideas to take holiday traditions to the next level: the Cheese Centerpiece and the Cookie Exchange Tray. From fresh foods as a generous decoration to camera-ready cookie presentations, incorporating California dairy products into your entertaining is a winning vacation strategy.

Californian cheese centerpiece
The mission? Create a holiday centerpiece, but make it delicious. Jessica Lawrenz, partner of Real California Milk, founder of Monger, Mold and Milk, rose to the challenge with the California Cheese Centerpiece, the ultimate in edible entertainment with a beautiful presentation of Real California Cheeses, salami, fruits and vegetables arranged with fragrant herbal toppings in a display sure to impress family and friends. As a bonus, it creates less waste than a floral bouquet alone (and you’ll have less to clean!).

Find additional cheese displays and holiday recipes at


Variety of real California firm to medium (semi-firm) cheeses (find them here:

Shown in the arrangement:

  • Real California Dry Jack Cheese Wedges
  • Cheddar wedges soaked in real California wine
  • California Triple Real Cream Cheese Wedges
  • Salumi or salami, turned into roses

Fresh fruits and vegetables:

  • Mini clementines or kumquats
  • Grapes or currants (both shown)
  • Fresh figs
  • Gooseberries
  • Cucamelons or mini cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes (Tiger Stripe Tomatoes pictured but all small tomatoes work)


  • Stems of bay leaves
  • olive leaf stems
  • Rosemary branches
  • Lavender stems
  • clusters of sage
  • Chive or garlic flowers or any edible flower with a stem

Tools and materials:

  • Tray or circular plate
  • Craft or floral mousse (shaped like a hemisphere at least 1 inch in diameter smaller than your tray)
  • Double-sided adhesive tape
  • Plastic wrap
  • U-shaped bamboo toothpick, toothpick (optional)
  • Cookie Cutter Shapes (optional)


  • Cover the foam with plastic wrap to protect the food from contact with the foam.
  • Use double-sided tape to secure the foam to the tray.
  • You can now begin to assemble the centerpiece. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the top of the sphere.
  • Use most of your leafy filling (bay stems, olive leaf stems, sage clumps) on the bottom layer to create a base and coverage by pressing the stems into the moss. If necessary, you can cut the bottom of the rod diagonally to create a sharper end OR use a toothpick to punch a hole where you want to insert the rods.
  • For better visual appeal, fruits like grapes and currants should also be arranged so that they flow over the edge of the tray near the bottom. PRO TIP: Use bamboo “U” shaped toothpicks to secure hanging fruit stems in the foam.
  • From there, use toothpicks to secure cheese wedges, salumi roses, fruits and vegetables into the mousse. Cut shorter triangular pieces of cheese (as opposed to the longer triangular pieces used for a long / rectangular centerpiece). Use tall wedges near the bottom where they will be easy to grip but won’t protrude too much if placed near the top. You can also use cookie cutter shapes for cheese, if you like.
  • Finally, take one of the smaller pieces of topping you have (lavender, chive blossoms, rosemary ends, loose leaves) to fill in the gaps between all of the items.

Holiday cookie swap board
If a cookie swap is the order of the day for this year’s holiday, or you’re just looking to upgrade your dessert table, follow a few tips from this awesome cookie swap presentation. Mix and match California milk cookie recipes to create a mouthwatering arrangement and decorate with mini candy canes, holiday lollipops, various decorations and holiday lights. Add napkins, to-go cookie bags and recipe cards to share, and let your guests go to town.

Dipped in melted dark chocolate and rolled in crushed mints or Christmas chips

Forget the ice cream, swap the holiday nuggets for rainbow nuggets and dip them in melted white chocolate with color for more festivities

California is the nation’s largest milk producer and is responsible for producing more butter, ice cream, and skimmed milk powder than any other state. The state is the second largest producer of cheese and yogurt. California milk and dairy products can be identified by the Real California Milk seal, which certifies that they are made exclusively with milk from the state’s dairy farm families.

About the Real California / California Milk Advisory Board

The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrument of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state’s dairy farm families who lead the country in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to feed the world with the healthy benefits of real California milk, CMAB’s programs focus on the growing demand for sustainable California dairy products in the state, the United States and around the world through the advertising, public relations, research and retail and food service promotion programs. For more information and to connect with CMAB, visit, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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