Tea & Coffee – The 3-Tier Serving Tray

3tiertray

The Proper Placement

The Proper Placement of Courses ~

I’m a visual person and that means I love pictures. The internet has been a wonderful invention to feed that interest. Especially places like Instagram, Pinterest and other social media sites that focus on imagery.

But one thing I’ve noticed in looking at the inspirational pictures people share for Tea and Coffee time are the mistakes they make when properly setting a table or serving tray.

Yes there really is a proper way to set or place anything on a table. And that includes the proper placement of food on a tiered serving tray. It can even include the proper placement of silverware on a serving dish or where on the table that dish should go.

But I’d like to focus this post on the 3-tiered serving tray. First off a tiered serving tray is reserved for low or afternoon tea. It is NEVER used for high tea. The only exception is when a tiered tray is used to serve varying types of desserts and the tray is placed on a side or buffet table.

The next concern is where to place your serving items upon the tray. What goes on top? What’s the proper placement of the dishes themselves? Can you re-arrange things as needed?

The easiest way to remember the proper alignment of your servicing items on your tray, is to think of this like a clock or in chronological order. What you serve first goes on top, what you serve last goes on the bottom.

The dish you serve first are the appetizers and therefore they go on top. For tea time that’s usually some type of bread, such as biscuits or scones. Perhaps you’re serving fruit cups to start off your event. Whatever it is, the first course is on the top tray. 

The middle tier is reserved for the next course which is usually the meal dishes. For low or afternoon tea that’s often some type of sandwich or small individual bowls of a cold soup etc. I attended a tea party one afternoon where the hostess served small individual pot pies. It was unique and the pies were piping hot when she placed them on the tray. By the time we had them during the tea, they had cooled off to a nice proper temperature for eating. And they were wonderful I might add.

The bottom tier is reserved for dessert. The tasty finger sweets such as cake slices, cup cakes or tarts. What ever your final dish will be, it goes on the bottom tray.

It may seem strange, but note the picture I’ve placed here. The center plate is the biggest of the three. Many people think of a 3-tiered platter as being layered like a cone and since the largest plate is usually at the bottom they want to place the items that take up the most room on the largest platter. No, no, no. This isn’t about the arrangement of platters, it’s about the proper placement of serving your dishes to your guests.

Re-arranging the platters on the stand is not only ok, it’s encouraged. So don’t let the aesthetic view fool you. If you need to re-arrange the platters in order to fit your dish on the plate, then do so. There’s nothing worse than going back and forth from top to bottom to select the items for your meal. Which should also inspire you to find a three-tiered serving tray that allows you to remove the platters and place them in different locations on the tier.

One of the best tiers I’ve seen was at an antique store. The platters were missing, but the tier was lovely and the holders would support any size platter. That would allow you to pick up some inexpensive plates at your local general store to fit. And that means you can pick up 3 large plates, or 3 mid-size plates, or 3 small plates, or 3 of each one so you can mix and match based on your serving needs.

So remember, placement is based on a top down, chronological order of serving.  Top- appetizers (biscuits/scones/fruit cups), Middle – main course (sandwiches etc), Bottom – dessert (tasty sweets).


VR-Hanko ~ All Rights Reserved ©

 © 2013 Victoria’s Rose ~ All Rights Reserved.

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