How to Make a 3 Tier Serving Tray

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You can present small cookies and hors d'oeuvres charmingly on tiered serving trays.
You can present small cookies and hors d'oeuvres charmingly on tiered serving trays. (Image: cookies image by Raimundas from Fotolia.com)

For informal get-togethers or formal affairs, tiered serving trays are interesting visual elements of a buffet or table setting. They use your serving space well by arranging finger foods vertically. Tiered trays can reflect a party theme or your personal style by showcasing distinct colors, patterns or holiday decor. The level of customization and personalization is up to the crafter. Classic three-tiered serving trays never go out of style. They present a creative way to reuse vintage materials and serve as frugal gifts for friends and family.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic or ceramic dishes in increasing sizes (like 5", 9" and 12")
  • Wooden or glass candlesticks
  • Ceramic or glass pedestal cake and cupcake stands in increasing sizes
  • Gorilla glue or epoxy glue
  • Foam brushes
  • Craft paint and varnish, optional

Decide whether to make an all-purpose tiered serving tray or an event-specific tray. This will guide your decision on what color or theme to use. A classic ladies' tea may call for thrift store china with connecting glass candlesticks, while a Halloween theme might call for plastic orange plates with black connecting votive holders. For formal receptions, creating multitiered serving trays from elegant pedestal cake stands and cupcake stands is a simple way to lend class. For game day, consider team logo dishes or colors to make a tiered tray for celery, Buffalo wings and dip.

Choose your materials after deciding on colors and theme. Basic tiered tray crafting options include stacking saucers and platters with connecting candlesticks, teacups or metal rods; stacking pedestal cake plates; or stacking painted clay saucers with painted candlesticks. You can use matching or mismatched plates. For best results, work with a single pattern, color or shape. Too much variety creates a messy effect.

Measure across your washed and dried base plate or cake stand. Place the connecting candlestick (painted, if desired) or teacup in the center. Tape off the area with blue painter's tape and remove the element.

Brush the top of the connecting element with glue and place it in the middle of the plate for the second tier; let dry. Brush the bottom of the connector or the next cake plate with glue and place carefully on the base. Let dry before removing tape and repeating the step with the top tier.

Use the same steps for painted clay saucers and painted wooden candle holders. Ensure glue is dry on bottom tiers before adding the next layer, which should be smaller in diameter than the one beneath it.

Wipe away any excess glue. Wipe down the serving tier before placing food on it. Clear ample space to store your completed tiered tray.

Tips & Warnings

  • Review others' finished projects for ideas and inspiration.
  • Keep glue and tools out of children's reach.

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