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What Are the Different Types of Party Platter Trays?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 16, 2024
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Party platter trays commonly consist of mixed foods and dips on one or several food presentation trays. The specific foods on these trays vary widely but all tend to be finger foods of one sort or another. The physical trays range from simple disposable plastic trays, with little adornment, all the way to elaborate serving vessels with specialized compartments for different foods, dips, and sauces. Many stores and restaurants sell party platter trays, but assembling trays from scratch can save money and add unusual style elements to a get together.

Vegetable party platter trays are very common and are sold in many stores. Such trays typically contain an assortment of freshly-chopped vegetables in handy bite-sized portions. Carrots, broccoli, and celery sticks are all common on this sort of tray, but any vegetables that can easily be eaten by hand may appear. Many of these trays include one or more dipping sauces for use with the vegetables.

Meat and cheese samplers are another common style of party platter tray. These assortments usually include a mixture of hard sausages and similar cooked and cured meats. Cheeses on these trays are usually in the form of small cubes or slices but may also be served on boards with cheese knives, especially when softer cheeses are involved. This type of party platter tray often includes crackers or some other bread product.

Many other sorts of finger food can also be served on party platter trays. Small finger sandwiches or portions of larger sandwiches are often used as party snacks. Hummus and flatbread or olive assortments can also be served for a more Mediterranean feel.

The physical trays used for party platter trays vary widely. The simplest are utilitarian plastic items. Pre-packaged snack assortments typically include inexpensive disposable plastic serving trays. Once an appetizer platter is finished, these trays can simply be recycled.

More elaborate party trays are available, however. Specialized tray sets often include platters with small containers for different sorts of vegetable or dip. This type of tray is available in many different novelty styles, and the right style of tray can add a great deal to the ambiance of a party.

Trays decorated in a tiki motif are available for barbeques or retro lounge parties. Elegant silver tray sets are sold to serve party platter trays in more upscale environments. Many kitchen collections include serving tray and party platter components, which coordinate with the other elements of a given collection.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Dec 12, 2013

@browncoat - That's one of the reasons I'd actually prefer it if people ordered their party platters from a caterer or store rather than making them themselves. Unless they have a lot of practice, people tend to rush this kind of thing and take shortcuts because it takes a while to get it right.

And foods like salmon and prawns and chicken and things aren't the kinds of foods you want to be taking shortcuts with. I'd rather have my party without food poisoning, thanks very much.

By browncoat — On Dec 11, 2013

@bythewell - Well, the good thing about most nibble-type foods is that they can usually be made in advance of the day and just kept in the fridge. They aren't really all that difficult to assemble, especially if you've got a few friends handy to make a mini production line.

I'd be disappointed if I went to a fancy party and they had some kind of fast food there. Not that I'm a snob or anything about that kind of food, it's just that the only time you really get a chance to eat canapes is at this kind of party, while you can eat fast food anytime.

The only thing to remember is that anything that is seafood based should probably be made fresh on the day or at best it might taste off and at worst it might make people sick.

By bythewell — On Dec 10, 2013

Quite a few restaurants will send you party platter trays if you need them for a work party or whatever. Subway sandwich stores, sushi places, donut places and probably almost any kind of fast food place would be willing to do this, because it means a big order for them.

It's not very personal, but sometimes you just want to have a good time and not have to worry about making the food.

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