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Updated January 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best holiday serving trays

The holidays are a time for friends and family to celebrate together, which usually means a calendar full of parties and social gatherings. When you host events at your home, you’ll love the convenience of a holiday serving tray to bring food and drinks to your guests and create a festive mood for your party.

Holiday serving trays are similar to standard serving trays, though they’re usually a bit fancier or elaborate. Many also feature holiday artwork or color schemes to capture the spirit of the season. Some are so decorative that you can use them as part of your holiday decor rather than just as an easy way to bring appetizers and cocktails to your guests. 

If you want to find the best holiday serving tray for your next get-together, it’s essential to know what to look for. That means understanding the best materials, size, and shape for a holiday serving tray to make it both decorative and functional. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for key features like the color scheme, design, handle style, and tiers, so you wind up with the perfect holiday serving tray for your parties.  

I1 -Holiday serving trays
If you want to carry your holiday serving tray around your party, look for one with raised sides at least 2 inches high. That can keep drinks from falling over and bowls from sliding off the edge.

How to buy the best holiday serving trays

Holiday serving tray materials

Holiday serving trays are available in various materials, which affect their appearance, price, and durability. 

The most common materials for holiday serving trays are:

  • Plastic: Plastic serving trays are generally the most affordable. They’re also fairly durable and easy to clean. They’re usually lightweight, too, so they’re easier to carry than other options. Plastic holiday serving trays don’t always have the most elegant look, though, which may be an issue if you’re having a more formal party or gathering. 
  • Wood: Wooden serving trays typically have a warm, rustic look that works especially well for holiday entertaining. They require more upkeep than plastic trays because wood can suffer moisture damage pretty easily. Wooden holiday serving trays are generally more expensive than plastic, too. It helps to choose a lacquered wooden tray to protect the wood from water damage for added durability.
  • Metal: Metal serving trays have a traditional, elegant look that works well for formal parties and other festive gatherings. These trays can be somewhat heavy, though, making them difficult to carry. Metal holiday serving trays often have a hefty price tag, but they are one of the most durable options. 
  • Crystal: Like metal serving trays, crystal trays offer an extremely elegant look that’s ideal for formal parties and occasions. They are fragile, though, because they can shatter if dropped. Crystal holiday serving trays are usually pricey and challenging to clean, too. 
  • Ceramic: Ceramic serving trays are usually an excellent middle ground between formal styles and more casual trays. They work well for festive holiday parties, casual gatherings, and even more formal get-togethers. Ceramic holiday serving trays can break easily if dropped, though, and often cost more than plastic and wooden models. 

Holiday serving tray shapes

Many holiday serving trays feature a square or rectangular shape. These shapes work especially well if you plan to use the tray for serving food and beverages at your parties. 

You can also find oblong, oval, and round holiday serving trays. These shapes can also be used for serving. However, they generally offer less surface area than a rectangular or square tray. As a result, oblong or rounded serving trays are typically a better option if you plan to use the tray as part of your holiday decor rather than for serving. 

Some holiday serving trays are also available in novelty shapes, such as Christmas trees, wreaths, or Santa’s face. These trays are certainly festive but usually don’t hold as much food as more traditionally-shaped trays. 

What size should a holiday serving tray be?

Holiday serving trays come in various sizes, so you can usually find an option that fits your needs. Rectangular serving trays are typically the largest, measuring between 12 and 24 inches in length. The interior surface area of these trays usually offers 19 inches by 13 inches, but a style with handles sometimes provides just an internal surface area of just 17 inches by 13 inches.

If you opt for a round or oblong tray, they may only have a diameter between 12 and 15 inches, limiting your serving area. 

Your holiday serving tray should be large enough to hold the food and cocktails you plan to serve on it. You may be tempted to choose the largest tray you can find, but keep in mind that oversized trays can be difficult to maneuver and store. 

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Staff Tip
Take care not to overload a serving tray. Not only will it make the tray harder to keep balanced, but the tray may not be able to support the weight. 
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What features do holiday serving trays have?

Colors

Holiday serving trays are available in an array of colors. Some homeowners prefer to purchase a decorative serving tray in a neutral color like white or gray so that you can use it for multiple holidays and occasions. Others want trays in festive colors that relate to specific holidays. For example, you may prefer a red or green tray for Christmas or a blue or silver tray for Hanukkah. 

You can also find trays in seasonal color schemes, such as soft pastels for the spring or rich, warm colors for the fall. A serving tray doesn’t necessarily need to have a color scheme related to a specific holiday, though. You might like a bright silver tray or a sleek black style for your holiday parties and other occasions. 

Design

In addition to a holiday-related color scheme, some holiday serving trays feature artwork or patterns related to the holiday or season. For example, you can find Christmas trays with artwork that depicts Christmas trees or Santa and his reindeer. Some may have a snowflake or snowman design. For Halloween, you can find trays with pumpkin or bat patterns. 

However, you may prefer a pattern or design that works for multiple holidays and occasions. Floral, striped, plaid, and other geometric designs are suitable for nearly any party or festive event. 

Handles

The best holiday serving trays feature raised sides to keep items from falling off or tipping over. However, you should also look for a tray with handles because they’re easier to carry and control than models without handles. 

Serving trays typically have cutout handles, which are holes cut into the tray’s raised sides. These handles offer an extremely firm grip on the tray, so you can securely carry it even if it’s loaded with food and beverages. You don’t have to worry about the handles coming loose or falling off either. 

Tiers

Some holiday serving trays feature multiple tiers to allow you to serve several different types of food at once. However, these serving trays don’t lend themselves to carrying around a room. Instead, you typically set them out on a table, so your guests can help themselves. 

Some trays feature just two tiers, but you can find many with three or more tiers. Consider how many different types of food you usually serve to determine whether a tiered tray would best suit your needs.

Ease of cleaning

Since you’ll be serving food and beverages on your holiday tray, you’ll definitely want to choose options that are easy to clean. Some styles are dishwasher-safe, so you can toss them in your dishwasher for the easiest cleaning. However, many trays require hand washing and take more time to clean. 

While cutout handles usually provide the best grip for a serving tray, they often aren’t the most comfortable because they can cut into your hand. Trays with metal or rattan handles may be easier to hold. 

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How much do holiday serving trays cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable holiday serving trays typically cost between $5 and $20. These trays are usually made of plastic, though you can find some lower-quality wooden styles in this price range, too. Many of these holiday serving trays don’t have handles, so they can be trickier to carry.

Mid-range

Mid-range holiday serving trays usually cost between $20 and $70. These trays are typically made of higher-quality plastic, wood, ceramic, and metal, though you may find some smaller crystal serving trays in this price range, too. Most of these holiday serving trays have handles, so they’re easier to carry. However, some feature tiers and are meant to be set out on a table rather than carried.

Expensive

The most expensive holiday serving trays typically cost between $70 and $185. These trays are usually made of metal or crystal, though you can also find large wooden styles in this price range. Many of these trays have handles, but some have tiers and are better for leaving out on a table for guests to help themselves.

St2-serving tray multiple holidays
Staff Tip
If you want a serving tray that can work well for multiple holidays, crystal or metal styles have an elegant look that can fit any festive occasion.
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Tips

  • Pick up a serving tray with both hands. That ensures you have a secure grip on it and provides proper balance as you carry food and beverages. 
  • Leave a serving tray out on the bar with pre-made drinks. Your guests can help themselves to your favorite holiday cocktails, and you don’t have to worry about spilling any drinks when serving. 
  • Use your holiday serving tray for your charcuterie board. Spread out your favorite cured meats, cheeses, fruit, nuts, olives, crackers, and more on the tray, and set it out in the middle of the table for guests to help themselves.
  • Have breakfast in bed during the holidays with a serving tray. Your family will love having their favorite breakfast for holidays like Christmas brought to them while they’re still in their pajamas. 
     
holiday serving tray decor
If you’re using a holiday serving tray as part of your decor, add items to it in varying heights for visual interest. For example, you can place a vase, a small potted plant, and a bowl with holiday potpourri on it to create a striking holiday display. 

FAQ

Q. How can I use a holiday serving tray?

A. A holiday serving tray is ideal for serving food and cocktails at your holiday parties and dinners. You can carry it directly to your guests or set the tray out in the middle of a table for them to help themselves. 

However, you can also use holiday serving trays as part of your holiday decor. Set one out on a table, and add some other holiday decorations like garland, ornaments, or poinsettias to it. It can even make a striking centerpiece for the table at your holiday dinner.

Q. What’s the best way to clean a serving tray?

A. It depends on the tray’s material. Some plastic trays may be dishwasher-safe, so you can just throw them in with your next load. Other holiday serving trays require hand washing, but you have to be careful not to use abrasive sponges or brushes on crystal or ceramic trays. Never submerge wooden trays in water, either, or you risk moisture damage. Instead, wipe them down with a damp cloth, and then use another cloth to rinse them. 

Q. How many holiday serving trays do I need?

A. Think about how often you entertain during the holidays and how large your gatherings are. One or two trays are probably enough if you only host once or twice during the holidays. But if you host multiple parties or usually entertain large groups at your home, you may want three or more trays, so you have trays for multiple types of food and beverages. 
 

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