Perfect design for a tiered tray, as each shelf is offset from the others for easy access.
Sturdy build quality, as the metal rack supports the porcelain trays well. Each of the 3 platters measures 14-inches wide and can hold plenty of items. Entire frame folds down for storage.
Pricey. Requires more space on the table than others.
Inexpensive 3-tier party tray that collapses down to a small size for storage.
Plenty of space between the tiers, so guests can access the items easily. Round trays have different diameters, which looks nice and simplifies loading the tiers. Food-safe plastic.
Plastic, so it's not the most durable. Won't handle heavy items.
Stainless steel design provides sturdiness and durability, all at a reasonable price.
Good value in a set of 2 multi-tier stands. Both trays have decorative round handles at the top, making it easy to move the trays after they're loaded. The gold color of both units sets them apart.
All 3 round tiers have a slightly smaller diameter than some other units.
An elegant and delicate-looking 3-tiered tray server made from white porcelain.
Offers 3 tiers for serving and display. Real ceramic platters are decorated with refined patterns for an elegant, traditional style. Fluted gold-finish hardware. Tiers are 10-, 8-, and 6-inches square.
Buyers found it a bit wobbly. A bit hard to clean.
This rustic wood 2-tier tray complements well with farmhouse arrangements and decor.
Rustic wood construction evokes farmhouse and country style, and is sealed for safety and cleanliness. Hardware evokes aged wine barrels. The widest tier is 13 inches in diameter, smaller is 10.6 inches.
Handle cannot be removed without disassembling tray.
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A tiered serving tray suggests a certain kind of lifestyle, perhaps the Edwardian afternoon teas depicted in movies. An elegant teapot full of fragrant tea poured into dainty cups, and an assortment of finger sandwiches on a tiered serving tray brought to the table by an attentive server. It seems like a long-lost world of luxury and refinement, even though in reality the tiered serving tray only became common in the early twentieth century and returned to prominence in the 1990s.
But the days of tiered trays being used only for afternoon tea are over. These trays have entered the world of everyday décor, with myriad ways to style and display your favorite items or make a statement in any room. Even if you plan to use one in its traditional role of displaying and serving food, you can find all sorts of occasions where it comes in handy, adding a focal point and maximizing table space.
There’s a lot more to tiered serving trays than holding cucumber sandwiches, and a good buying guide and curated recommendations can help you find the right one for your next soirée.
Tiered serving trays have many uses. You can, of course, use one to serve food, such as cakes, sandwiches, and pastries. Tiered trays can hold bread, rolls, fruits, or crudités in a buffet. Tiered trays make a dramatic statement holding cupcakes or confections. You can even use tiered serving trays to serve antipasti and charcuterie.
However, these trays aren’t limited to holding food. They can be used as attractive display storage in many rooms or as decorative objects themselves. A tiered tray can hold jewelry and accessories on a dressing table or soaps, shampoos, and washcloths in a bathroom. A tiered tray can be placed in a foyer to hold keys and mail. A themed and styled tiered tray works well as a focal point on a table or shelf or a centerpiece in a room. Swapping objects on a tiered tray every few months is a simple way to keep a room’s décor seasonal.
The number of tiers a serving tray has determines how much food you can serve on it or how many objects you can display. The more tiers, the taller the serving tray, and the more impact it has on a table or counter. Two- and three-tiered serving trays are the most common, but there are some with four, five, six, and more tiers.
Tiered serving trays are made of a wide variety of materials. Many have tiers or platters of one material and a stand or frame of another.
Metal, including stainless steel, is the most common material for the stand or frame of tiered serving trays. Galvanized metal offers a rustic farmhouse look.
Ceramic and porcelain are among the most popular materials for food-safe trays, such as on tea stands, and can be plain or decorative.
Glass is also a popular material for food-safe trays.
Wood is found in many purely decorative tiered serving trays. Food-safe wood like acacia or olive is used for some trays intended for serving food.
Plastic, such as colored or clear acrylic, is common in inexpensive tiered serving trays and stands.
Tiered serving trays are meant to be eye-catching, so you don’t have to shy away from one that is decorative. Choose a tiered tray that matches your personal style or the style of the occasion you’re planning. You can find elegant tiered trays with gilded frames for classic afternoon teas or special occasions. Wood or galvanized aluminum fits in with the popular farmhouse look, while simpler shapes and colors can be dressed up or down as needed.
For more flexibility, consider a tiered serving tray made of separate stacked stands. These can be used individually, arranged in many different ways, and combined to give you the height and space you desire.
It’s a good idea to have a tiered serving tray that’s portable. There are some that aren’t designed to be moved easily, usually larger, wider stands used primarily for display. But for classic tea stands and other tiered trays used for food service, being able to pick up the tray is a real asset. Portable tiered serving trays have handles, often a loop at the top.
Height: The space between the tiers determines what you can serve or display on the tray and how easy or difficult it is to access the items. Tiers that are close together can get in the way of serving food or prevent you from displaying taller objects.
Lipped: Platters or plates on the tiers of the serving tray allow you to hold and serve more kinds of food. A lip or rim on the platters keeps the food from spilling or rolling off.
Flat: Tiers with perfectly flat shelves or plates are suitable for items that won’t spill or roll.
Bowl: Deep, bowl-shaped tiers can be styled many ways.
Attached: Many tiered serving trays have tiers that are attached to the stand or frame, especially those with a central dowel or column. These can’t usually be taken apart easily.
Removable: Some of these serving trays have tiers that are plates or platters that are separate from the stand or frame. These can be used by themselves, and being able to remove them is more convenient for serving and cleaning.
Graduated: Traditional tea stands and other tiered serving trays have stepped or staggered tiers of graduated sizes. Typically, the largest tier or platter is on the bottom and the smallest on top.
Stepped: Other tiered trays have tiers of the same size but offset front to back from bottom to top. Trays with uniform tiers have the advantage of holding the same amount of food per tier, but they can be more difficult to reach.
It can be helpful to have a lid for the tiered cake stand to keep pests away and food items fresh. Bell jars, cloches, and cake domes are examples of lids used with some tiered serving trays.
Some of these serving trays cost less than $20. Many of these are made of clear acrylic or colored PVC and might be considered disposable. There are some available in this price range with tiers made of glass, wood, or ceramic with a frame of wood or metal. Some of the less expensive tiered trays may not be stable or durable enough for all uses.
These tiered serving trays cost between $20 and $75. In this price range, you’ll find the biggest variety with various numbers of tiers made of all sorts of materials and including helpful features like heat resistance, multiple configurations, and multiple shapes and styles. You can generally trust that the trays in this price range are sturdy and durable enough to withstand repeated use.
Expensive tiered serving trays cost $75 and more. These include classic tiered tea stands from fine dinnerware brands like Royal Doulton or Royal Albert, as well as designer pieces for high-end stores, and eye-catching, highly decorative tiered trays made of gilded metal, fine porcelain, or polished stone.
Experts recommend clearing all the tiers of a tiered stand entirely before starting another styling project.
A. Using tiered serving trays as décor is a recent trend that still has plenty of steam left. Styled tiered trays took off in popularity in the late 2010s as more and more designers promoted themed trays as a simple and affordable way to add height and impact to tables and shelves.
A. When styling a decorative tiered serving tray, first decide on a theme, such as a color or occasion. Then choose an anchor or focal object, perhaps one for each tier but particularly one for the bottom tier. Arrange the other items in relation to the anchor object while varying the height, shape, or texture. Don’t overcrowd the tiers, and don’t be afraid to make your arrangement asymmetrical.
A. Many hotels and tea shops choose to arrange a tiered tea tray with savory sandwiches on the bottom tier, scones and baked goods on the middle tier, and sweets and other confections on the top. There is no firm rule about arranging tiered serving trays, however, and you can use your best judgment about what works.