DIY Serving Trays

By Jessica Brita-Segyde on August, 16 2021
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Jessica Brita-Segyde

How can you make your social soiree stand out from the rest? Add a little DIY, and we’re not just talking about the food! Your serving tray can double as a beautiful conversation piece. Mix and match the following pieces to up the ante at your next gathering with a seasonal or year-round serving tray.

The most straightforward approach to starting your tray is to find an existing tray at a thrift or craft store and make it your own. Look for metal trays that can be painted or wood trays that will pair well with decals. Find a tray in good condition made of materials suitable for food service.

The Base – Every tray needs a base. It’s where the food is presented and provides the backdrop for embellishments. Choose a base you can alter and adorn based on your entertaining style.

Will your tray get heavy use during dinner parties? Wood-based trays can be sealed to prevent water or oil damage. If you’re handy with tools, find a smart-looking piece of wood to reclaim and cut to size. Antique doors work great for this purpose.

Metal trays have a cleaner look and can be spray painted if you don’t want to invest in brushes. sells a variety of food-safe spray paints.

A third option for your tray’s base is a re-used picture frame. The glass from the frame or a piece of wood paneling can be used as the base with the frame creating a shadowbox effect on the sides.

The Handles – If your tray is flat, you may want to add handles. Reclaimed hardware from a kitchen remodel looks great on a tray. If your tray is wood, hardware can be screwed directly into the base. If you’re working with a metal tray, use an adhesive like Surebond for metal.

If reclaimed items are not available, you can purchase two cabinet pulls from any hardware store. Test before buying to make sure your fingers can fit underneath when lifting the finished tray.

Table Protection – Don’t forget to adhere table protectors to the bottom of your tray, like this felt set from

Embellishments for All Seasons – Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall – Nature offers many opportunities to decorate your tray. You could purchase decals with seasonal appeal or decoupage a wooden tray yourself. Paint the base white first, then use decoupage paper, dried flowers, or leaves to create a scene before setting it with glue and heat-resistant varnish. Magazine cutouts and chalk paint also work well in decoupage projects.

DIY With Help - For a quicker result, consider premade decals in a design that suits your seasonal taste. Decals can also be personalized with your family’s name or any phrase you choose. is a great place to start. If your tray is metal, magnets can add removable flair that you can switch with the seasons.

The site offers matching trays and coasters with the initial and name you provide.

Time To Entertain – Your tray can be used to serve appetizers walk-around style or as a complement to your tablescape. Don’t be afraid to use it! Spills happen. You can always decoupage over them the next day!