As someone who used to work in restaurants, I’ve used a lot of serving trays. Even if I had to bring a single cocktail to a table, a tray was always required (often a heavy metal one) — and, at first, I wondered why. Then I realized something important: trays look nice.
Whether you’re serving cocktails to friends or presenting yourself with bedside cheese, a quality serving tray will enhance just about any experience. A tray will also help you carry more than you otherwise could (even stuff that’s too hot to touch) and most of them work as home decor as well. So now’s the time to pick one up. Here are current favorites, from a minimal wood option with a subtle mid-century feel to an exceedingly shiny brass tray perfect for your Art Deco home.
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For Five-Star Room Service
If you have a recurring fantasy that involves someone (your roommate, say, or your cat) bringing you breakfast in bed, here’s how to manifest it. Made by Cliff Spencer for Alabama Sawyer, these trays come in oak and walnut with little brass accents that will patina over time.
For something straightforward and versatile, try this round onyx option that can double as a centerpiece for your dining table. It comes in two sizes, and — while it’s more decorative than it is functional — this can also turn into a portable cheese board at your next dinner party.
A collaboration between West Elm and classic NYC home goods store Fishs Eddy, this mirrored tray is an especially festive piece perfect for cocktail parties, bridal showers, or any other event where you might drink something out of a Martini glass. When not in use, leave this on your coffee table for others to appreciate.
An Old-School Find
Want your tray to stand out? Go vintage. Each of Hester & Cook’s silver-plated tea trays is slightly different from the rest, and they all work well for decor or actual tea/cocktail service.
A Useful Classic
Pair your Le Creuset tea kettle and Dutch oven with this big enameled tray. With its stoneware construction and scratch-resistant coating, this is an ideal way to bring any large (and hot) plates or roasts to your kitchen table.
A Tray To Eat From
Eschewing their typical heavy enameled look, Le Creuset goes the steel route here (albeit with a scratch-resistant porcelain enamel glaze). Their Everyday tray is especially appropriate for food, such as a big charcuterie spread, although you could also use it as an actual serving vessel for any big mains.
The Woven One
Make a snack spread for one with this lightweight rattan tray, then bring that spread to your bed, couch, or backyard. And, when you aren’t using this leather-accented Amber Lewis tray for snacks, feel free to use it as a living room storage receptacle.
A Tray For Everything
Exceedingly simple and made from sustainably sourced mango wood, this is a serving tray that works for pretty much anything. Put a big cheese spread across the enameled surface or ferry some snacks and drinks to a backyard party. The unique raised handles are also a nice touch.
A Rustic Option
If you’ve opted for the farmhouse/cottagecore lifestyle, allow us to introduce you to this square 18" tray constructed of reclaimed wood. It should fit in nicely alongside your dried flowers, vintage wallpaper, and distressed wooden furniture (in a neutral color palette, of course).
The Minimalist Route
Leave Burrow’s Round Tray on your bar cart, ottoman, or lap while you eat various chips and/or crudités. The design is about as simple as gets (although there’s still some mid-century flair), and you can choose from three different colors.
A Modern Take
They might lack the immediate high-end appeal of wood or silver, but still, we’re fans of acrylic trays. Should your home skew toward the modern end of the spectrum, a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-clean acrylic tray is a great choice for toting around your weekend breakfast.
The Luxurious One
The first thing you notice about this solid brass tray is that it’s shiny (and gold). Your guests will also notice this, which means money well spent. In all seriousness, however, this Deco-inspired piece from Aerin is just about everything you want out of a serving tray. Sturdy, practical, and luxurious — it’s something you’ll hang onto for years and years.
Les Ottomans’ ornate and often animal-centric designs work especially well in the context of serving trays. A pair of hand-painted grey crowned cranes, for example, feels like a natural fit here. This tray is made from iron, and — despite how busy it is — it should work in any home, baroque Italian villa or not.