Best serving tray for entertaining

Entertaining

Serving trays not only hold your food and drinks, but they are also convenient for holding accessories like flower vases, books and other decorative items.

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Which serving trays are best for entertaining?

If you’re hosting an upcoming gathering, you’ll likely be serving some kind of appetizers, treats or drinks. The best way to set out goodies for your guests to enjoy is to place them on a serving tray. Serving trays are flat portable surfaces made of durable materials to support dishes, food and drinks. These trays keep your food and beverages organized and help prevent unnecessary spills.

People tend to use them when carrying multiple or cumbersome items to transport them without dropping anything. Serving trays are ideal for setting out refreshments when entertaining. They are also convenient for holding accessories like flower vases, books or other decorative items alongside a display of accouterments. For more information, check out the full serving tray buying guide from BestReviews.

Serving tray features

There are a handful of features that differentiate one serving tray from the next. Knowing what, where and how you’ll serve your guests will help you find the right serving tray for your next event. 

Materials

Serving trays can come in various materials, including plastic, wood, metal, glass and marble. Plastic trays are the least expensive but are also prone to cracking and absorbing odors. Wooden trays are popular and look nice in almost every setting, though you may need to oil them occasionally to help seal the wood and keep them looking pristine. Metal, glass and marble trays require less upkeep and are highly durable but often have a higher price tag.

Size and shape

You can find serving trays in various sizes and shapes, but the most common ones are rectangles. Many serving trays measure between 12- and 24-inches long. Bespoke serving trays may be round, oblong, tiered or custom-made. The larger the tray, the more surface area you have to arrange your refreshments.

Walls

Trays can come with walls standing up from the sides or without them. These walls are there to prevent condensation from leaking out and food and drinks from sliding off. Walls are most helpful if you plan to arrange your serving tray in one area and carry it somewhere else.

Handles

Most serving trays come with handles attached or holes cut out from the sidewalls for easy carrying. If you plan to move your refreshments from the kitchen to another room, handles are an excellent idea to help keep the tray balanced.

Tiers

Serving trays are often one single flat surface but may involve two or more attached layers. These tiers can help display more petite refreshments, adding depth to your tablescape or saving space on your tables and counters. Keep in mind that tiered serving trays limit the height of your refreshments as they stack on top of each other.

Best serving trays for entertaining

Serving trays for entertaining under $25

AmGood Fast Food Tray

AmGood Fast Food Tray

If you need a serving tray in a pinch, this plastic model offers a large serving area at an affordable price. It comes in a variety of colors and has a textured surface to hold items in place.

Sold by Amazon

Greenco Rectangle Bamboo Tray

Greenco Rectangle Bamboo Tray

This bamboo tray is lightweight yet durable. The side walls are tall enough to keep most dishes from sliding off, and the handles are extra large for an easy grip.

Sold by Amazon

Kraftware Fishnet Serving Tray

Kraftware Fishnet Serving Tray

This durable serving tray is tear- and fade-resistant, making it an excellent choice for patio soirées and outdoor events. A removable fishnet mold lines the bottom of the tray, which helps hold items steady and makes cleanup easy. The tray comes in various colors.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond

Serving trays for entertaining $25 to $50

Convenience Concepts Palm Beach Serving Tray

Convenience Concepts Palm Beach Serving Tray

This straightforward serving tray is a reliable standard that’s sturdy and comes in seven colors. The wood construction is solid, and the handle cut-outs make carrying easy.

Sold by Amazon

Ice Cream Round Tray

Ice Cream Round Tray

This round tray is ideal for serving chilled treats on a warm summer day with an ice cream-inspired design. The tray is scratch and shatter-resistant and features cut-out handles on the sides.

Sold by Sur La Table

MyGift Country Rustic Serving Trays

MyGift Country Rustic Serving Trays

These rustic stained wood serving trays add a hefty dose of character to any gathering. These country-inspired trays come in a set of three and are available in four different finishes.

Sold by Amazon

Serving Palette with Bowls

Serving Palette with Bowls

If you’re hosting a gathering of artists, this colorful serving palette is sure to entertain. Six porcelain bowls progress in color, reminiscent of a classic painter’s palette. A center thumb hole offers stability.

Sold by Uncommon Goods

Artisanal Kitchen Supply 2-Tier Marble Server

Artisanal Kitchen Supply 2-Tier Marble Server

Elevate your refreshments with this double-tiered serving tower. A wooden structure supports two elegant white marble trays, perfect for a more formal gathering.

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Serving trays for entertaining over $50

Mother of Pearl Handmade Charcuterie Serving Tray

Mother of Pearl Handmade Charcuterie Serving Tray

This classy Mother of Pearl serving tray is made to order with custom sizing and trim. The organic edging and modern handles create a sleek, sophisticated finish. Choose from gold or silver accents.

Sold by Etsy

Old Dutch International Oblong Serving Tray

Old Dutch International Oblong Serving Tray

The antique copper finish and hammered iron detailing grab your attention with this oblong serving tray. The attached brass handles lift from the edges. Choose between two different sizes.

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond

Heirloom Brass Round Serving Tray

Heirloom Brass Round Serving Tray

This minimal brass tray with slight edges adds a luxurious touch to any event. The tray is made from a single sheet of brass, creating a seamless surface. The modern look gives an effortless nod to mid-century design. 

Sold by Etsy

Coastal Serving Board

Coastal Serving Board

For a serving tray that’s sure to impress, this beach-inspired coastal serving tray mimics the ocean shoreline with an epoxy finish atop a light maple board. Metal side handles offer strong support.

Sold by Uncommon Goods

 

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Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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