Want to charm your girlfriend's parents? Throwing a decidedly grown-up party this winter? Or maybe you're hosting your family and your girlfriend's parents for the holidays, and the terror of entertaining your hopefully-in-laws-to-be has you wondering what it costs to hire a personal chef for a weekend.

Relax. There's one way to impress everyone before you even pop bottles: Create a cheese board.

We're not talking about tossing some sweaty pre-sliced cheddar and pepperoni on a plate. We mean taking the time to assemble a hearty, festive assortment of cheeses, crackers, and  fixins' that'll do things like stimulate intellectual conversations and pair well with the cabernet. (And take it from us: Nothing accidentally pairs well with cabernet.)

But unless you're a restaurateur, choosing between the asiago and the manchego probably feels a little outside of your wheelhouse. For a primer on creating your own holiday party cheese board, we've enlisted the help of two masters: Judy Haubert, a food and prop stylist, and Erika Kubick, a former cheesemonger and creator of the magnificently named Cheese Sex Death, a “Modern Guide for Cheese Lovers.”

Follow this guide and you'll be the jolliest guy this side of the holidays.