PREP: About an hour before starting, set out the cream cheese to get it to room temperature. It's important it's softened a bit so you don't end up with unpleasant chunks in the cheese ball. (To bring to room temp quicker: cut cream cheese into small cubes and spread out on a plate. Let sit in a warm place about 15-20 minutes.)
CHEESE BALL: In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and ranch seasoning mix until smooth. Add in the shredded cheese and finely diced bacon; beat until just combined. Add in optional chives.
CHILL: Using a silicone spatula, scoop the mixture onto the plastic wrap and using the wrap, form it into a ball. Tightly wrap and place in the fridge for 1-3 hours or until firm.
PECANS: See Note 1. Finely dice the pecans and place on a large tray with sides. Remove the ball from the fridge and from the plastic wrap and roll in the chopped pecans. Gently press the pecans into the side as needed.
SERVE: Place Cheese Ball on a large plate and serve with your favorite crackers. Make sure to have a table knife by the side, since crackers often break when pressed into the cheeseball, and it's much easier to scoop from the ball with a knife.
STORAGE: Store any leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 1 week in the fridge. Cheese Ball shouldn't stand at room temperature for more than 2 hours because of all the dairy in it.