How to set up a Dessert table

Dessert tables are becoming extremely popular and deservingly so…who doesn’t love food at a party! Thinking of creating a DIY table at your next event? Well there’s a few things you need to think about first to pull it off!

Pick a theme or style

Firstly, know your party. What’s the theme going to be? What time of day is it? How many guests will there be? Is this an adult, family or kids party? Everything you do is going to revolve around these questions. You’re going to need to collect props and table decorations to suit and enhance your party’s theme. Below are some examples of good themes based on the event:

  • Garden party: blue check gingham, bunting and mix matched china gives a casual dining vibe 
  • Engagement party: floral displays, old soda crates and hessian for a rustic vintage theme.
  • Girls 21st: Dark satin tablecloth, with gold or copper serving plates and diamantes or feathers scattered amongst the plates are great for a hollywood glamour or Great Gatsby themed party.

As well as the table, crockery and decorations, you should consider the backdrop behind your table. A chiffon backdrop with fairy lights behind it can be a great look, another popular option is to choose a white wall or fabric to make your table's colours stand out.

Choosing your desserts

Your desserts should be determined by both the style of your party and the number of guests. For a small intimate day time party it might be nice to make some medium sized tarts or cakes that people can come and grab a slice of but this would not be good for a large group of eight year olds hyped up on sugar! Instead maybe smaller sweets like cake pops, cupcakes and cookies for kids eliminating the need for any slicing at the table. You should also try and match your dessert to the style you have decided on. matching the colours of your food to the theme can be very striking and you can expand on this by placing jars of lollies of the same colour around the desserts.

Below is an example of a dessert table created by a customer of mine. She asked me to make a gender reveal cake and cupcakes and styled the table herself. 

Statement cakes are another fantastic idea for birthdays, engagement and wedding desert tables alike. They should be the hero of your table, with the other items surrounding them. Its always fun to get a ‘cutting the cake’ photo too! If you are going to have a statement cake as the centrepiece of your table you should make sure that the rest of your table matches its style.

Setting up your table

Once you have the props and menu down-pat you can get onto the placement of your table! Working in visual merchandising I learnt that height is your friend. You want to display your food attractively and create different levels of height to draw in the eye.  Try to display some foods lower towards the front of your table, and then give sections height by placing them on baskets, cake stands etc behind. You can use all kinds of things to give displays height, if you don’t have any tall cake stands pop your serving tray on an upside down bowl.  Below is a picture of how i generally set up my market stall. You can see that i have all of the goodies placed on different levels with the statement cake highest in the rear. my "cake stand" for the bar cakes is just a plate place on top of an upside down jug. You don't need to be spending a fortune to get the look you want!

You should also make sure that you label your food. This not only looks cute but also lets your guests know what they are eating.  Even if your guests don’t have allergies or food intolerances I still highly recommend you add some little signs or labels, no one should be playing russian roulette with what they are eating. You can find mini chalkboards or cardboard place cards at dollar stores, which are perfect for this.

Lastly, have a think about little done up sweet bags. Not everyone will feel like deserts at your party, so it’s a nice idea to have some sweets done up for guests to take home and enjoy.

That’s it! Start planning the dessert table for your next event! 

X Holly