In other words, variety! Textural differences between soft, firm, and hard—plus a mix of cow, sheep, and goat cheeses—will guarantee a perfect spread.
Aged Gouda, Manchego, or Parmesan (the old) offer a balance to soft Camembert, Brie, or chèvre (the new). Taleggio and Camembert taste better than they smell (stinky!) and Gorgonzola or Roquefort will round out your plate (the very necessary blue). But don't break the bank! Two ounces of cheese per guest will be plenty.
When it comes to pairings, less is more. Commit to either a sliced baguette or your favorite cracker but not both. Similarly, stick with one type of nut: Toasted walnuts on a budget, Marcona almonds when you’re feeling spendy. Hit a savory note with one dried meat plus something acidic like grainy mustard or sour pickles. And a sweet note with sliced stone fruit—plus one to three bottles of Bees Knees Honey.