WHIP all of the BASIC RECIPE ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. NOTE: You may also add the OPTIONAL and/or OPTIONAL FRESH HERB ingredients now: 1 tablespoon crumbled crisp cooked bacon (cook bacon wrapped in 2 sheets paper towels on a microwaveable plate for 6-10 minutes on 100% power and crumble when cooled), 2 tablespoons thinly snipped fresh chives (or) 2 tablespoons finely snipped fresh dill (or) 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage (or) 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme (or) 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary).
DIVIDE cheese mixture in half; DUMP each cheese portion individually onto a sheet waxed paper; WRAP cheese balls completely using the waxed paper, twisting the tops to seal.
FORM cheese mixture in waxed paper into ball shapes.
PLACE into freezer until firm yet not frozen.
ADD 2/3-3/4 cup chopped walnuts and 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or parsley (or dried) into a medium bowl; COMBINE well.
REMOVE cheese balls from freezer when firm and unwrap.
SMOOTH cheese balls with clean dry hands until round and even.
ROLL cheese balls lightly in nut and herb mixture until evenly covered (you may freeze cheese balls in freezer bags and thaw before serving).
GARNISH cheese balls if desired for the holidays with a holly garnish (see photo) or prepare OPTIONAL HOLIDAY GARNISH: PLACE 2-3 maraschino cherry halves (each) closely on top of cheeseball; CUT 2-3 large bay leaves (each) into holly leave shapes and attach around cherries (you may tint bay leaf tops first with green food coloring using a small paintbrush, for a more dramatic color presentation).
SERVE when tempered on or with crackers (I prefer the Triscuit Rosemary & Olive Oil variety); ENJOY!