Bored With the Usual? Host a Board Party!
Written by Allison Kay Bannister. Photo: Aperitivo


The holiday season is in full swing, and that means parties, celebrations, and get togethers galore. If you’re hosting at home this year and looking for ideas, or if you’ve tasked your invitees with bringing “something,” consider taking the guesswork out of it for everyone by having a board party. 

Imagine filling your table with a legit smorgasbord—without the usual duplicates—by assigning each guest a themed board. Think: One each of meats, cheeses, desserts, spreads and dips, breads and crackers, dried fruits and nuts, and nibbles, like olives and pickles. You can combine and separate categories depending on the size of your group, and you’ll benefit from a variety of flavors and personal tastes. Plus, imagine the conversation starting potential. 

Once each individual or couple has their assignments, the next question is where to shop. We’ve got you! Greater Grand Rapids has loads of options, some with a bit of everything; others with specific specialties. Let’s dive in. 

Art of the Table. This little shop on Wealthy has made a name for itself as a go-to for entertaining. If you’re looking for something you can’t get just anywhere, this is your spot. You’ll find local and international items, from jams, chutneys, and dips to gourmet crackers, distinctive chocolates and sweets. This is a great place to grab a bottle of wine or a craft brew six pack, too. | 606 Wealthy St. SE |

Louise Earl Butcher. Definitely not your supermarket deli counter! With a focus on locally sourced meats from naturally raised animals, they provide an elevated offering. From traditional cured meats to more adventurous terrines and pâtés, their meats are made to impress and processed responsibly. | 1106 Wealthy St. SE |

Martha’s Vineyard. Is it even a list without this neighborhood staple? More than just a huge selection of the finest imbibables, they also offer cut-to-order cheese, a deli case with an array of prepared foods, and a delicious selection of Nantucket Bakery artisan desserts. Plus, their grocery aisles are filled with all the extras. | 200 Union Ave NE |

The Cheese Lady. If you’re on the hunt for something better than basic cheddar, swing over to this Midtown shop. They carry more than 90 varieties of cheese, and are also stocked with supplemental items, including condiments, dried fruits, nuts, and crackers, plus beer and wine. Need a host or hostess gift? They have that covered, too. | 315 Fuller Ave NE |

Aperitivo. Located in the Downtown Market, this full-service cheese and charcuterie counter is staffed by experts who can help you choose just the right pairings. They have a curated collection of imported and domestic cheese, as well as cured meats, tinned fish, spreads, and interesting wines and beers. | 435 Ionia SW |

Field & Fire. Also at the Downtown Market, this wood-fired-oven bakery serves up a selection of flavorful breads and baked goods. Any of their breads, whether a rustic miche, a fluffy focaccia, an eggy challah, or a hearty rye, deserves a place on your board! There are also the pesto parm and green olive for some zest, and the twisted tordu, which is designed for charcuterie. | 435 Ionia Ave SW |

Fromage. A Gaslight Village gem, they have a little of this and a little of that. Cheese and cheese spreads, cured meats, pickled goods, preserves, sweets, crisps, and crackers are just a few of the items you’ll find inside. Pick up a gift and a bottle of bubbly, or mix and match with single cans of beer, too. | 2180 Wealthy St. SE |

Horrocks and Kingma’s. Depending on which side of town you’re on, either of these specialty markets has you covered. Especially if you’re looking to put together a chocolate, nut, or fruit board. Walk into Kingma’s and you’re immediately met with a wall of bulk-packaged items that ranges from chocolate covered anything to seasoned and raw nuts to dried fruits and vegetables. Horrocks has a similar setup mid store and the options are pretty much endless. Both also carry cheese, olives, meats, crackers, fresh fruits and vegetables, unique treats, and a palatial offering of wine, beer, mixers, and ciders. | 4455 Breton Rd SE | •
2225 Plainfield Ave NE |

Mediterranean Island. Though the name suggests it’s focused on a specific region of Europe, this oasis in southeast Grand Rapids is home to a variety of international foods and ethnic flavors. In addition to flatbreads and pitas, sausages and cheeses from different countries, and uncommon N/A juices and beverages, they have a large deli and produce section with hard-to-find-elsewhere items. If you’re in charge of a sweets board, don’t pass up their Lebanese nougats! | 4301 Kalamazoo Ave SE |

Peters Gourmet Market. Another southside store, Peters has an international bent, too—specifically Dutch fare. Though, that’s not all! You’ll find products from Germany, France, England, Scotland, Switzerland, and Indonesia, too. Cheeses and smoked meats; dips and spreads; cookies, chocolate, and baked goods; jams and jellies; and Michigan made goods are just the start of what you’ll be able to pick up. They even have kegged root beer!   | 4499 Ivanrest Ave. SW |

Don’t like to DIY? Most of these shops will build a board for you! And there you have it. Are these the only places for your guests (and you) to shop for your board party? Of course not. But, they’re some of our area favorites—and a walk through their doors is sure to spark the imagination. What will you choose to put on your board?