Chic Party Trays

Back in the day, entertaining on trays was de rigueur. Let’s bring
it back!

When it comes to holiday parties, people often think they have to reinvent the wheel by doing something over-the-top or crazily festive. Forget it. Not necessary. Sometimes we overcomplicate things so much, we can’t even enjoy ourselves. This season, I plan to bring back the art of entertaining on trays. It’s a throwback to a bygone era, but when done properly, a party passed on trays can be incredibly modern and terribly elegant.

Of course, it all begins with finding the perfect tray, which needs to balance style and function. My favorite tray comes from the extraordinary Château de Bagnols in France. It’s an actual copy of the silver trays created for the château in the 18th century, but it looks every bit as refined today. Perfect—believe it or not—for pigs in a blanket, one of my all-time favorite party snacks. There’s something incredibly confident about putting something so shamelessly ordinary on an object so extraordinary. Pair the little dogs with basil Dijon mustard and you’ve got it.

For something more contemporary, I love the gold circular trays by Belgian artist Michaël Verheyden. They’re quite heavy and could possibly be decorative objects on their own, but they’re also just right for the round gold-leaf petits fours by Cheryl Kleinman in Brooklyn, New York.

Then there’s the classic white lacquer tray: Jonathan Adler gives his version a modern twist with a great hexagonal shape, and the red napkins here are actually disposable—I know!—but still chic.

Another one is the apple-green lacquer tray by Plantation Design, with its white edge—so sophisticated, it immediately makes me think of these adorable Revol mini-cocottes, which I discovered while planning one of the most luxurious evenings ever: a dinner party for 250 prepared by Thomas Keller. The night consisted of all-miniature courses—lobster, vegetable cassoulet—served in these tiny vessels. They’re perfect for when you’ve planned something a little heartier than hors d’oeuvres but don’t want a full-court sit-down dinner. Cheers!

Contributing editor David Monn is an event and party planner based in New York but who travels everywhere. For more information, call 212-242-2009 or visit

Party Tray Details

From top to bottom:

Michael Verheyden gold trays (from $275 for a set; Cocktail napkins from the Monogram Shop ( Cheryl Kleinman Cakes petits fours (

Jonathan Adler lacquer hexagon tray ($175; Mydrap cocktail napkins (

Plantation Design tropical tray ($140; Revol Belle Cuisine cocottes ( Monogram Shop cocktail napkins.

Chateau de Bagnols silver tray and serving dish ($335 and $200; Dean & Deluca Wagyu pigs in a blanket ( Edmond Fallot basil Dijon mustard ( Williams-Sonoma cocktail picks (