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Whether living in a house or an apartment, there’s no denying, we tend to hold onto a lot of stuff. Some of it gets put to regular use. Some of it stays in storage boxes. But what if you could corral some of what you own in a way that adds function and flair to your space? Enter the all-purpose, all-shapes, all-sizes holder of everything – the tray.

From placing a tray with rocks in the mudroom to keep wet shoes from touching the floor, to an aesthetically pleasing way to present breakfast in bed, there are plenty of uses for trays in virtually every room of the house. Let’s explore a few examples:


It’s ok to admit it. You were supposed to bring dessert for a party but didn’t have time to bake, so you bought cookies at the store and transferred them to a tray and no one was the wiser. Why? Because the mere presentation told a different story – one where you were up all night with cookie cutters and flour in your hair. The fact of the matter is, we often eat with our eyes first, so whether you’re hosting a family dinner, or a small gathering of friends, food presentation is key to getting everyone excited to feast. Try using a tray on a pedestal to draw attention to a particular treat or place several trays of various sizes and shapes near each other to create an eclectic display of finger food or desserts.

brunch table with tray

Gift Presentation

I love giving gifts to people. I like seeing them delight in receiving something unexpected. I also have a tendency to use themes when purchasing and presenting gifts. Trays can play an integral role when multiple gifts are involved. Take for example, this past Mother’s Day. I had several smaller gifts for my mom that were floral themed, so instead of just littering packages everywhere, I placed them in a turquoise tray with floral wrapping paper and placed them on her bed, so when she entered her room, she would be surprised. Not only was she impressed with how everything was presented; she now had a nifty new tray to use in other ways. The next time you purchase items like bath products or cooking utensils, for example, consider tying them with ribbon to a tray and kick your gift giving prowess up a notch!

gift on a bed set inside a tray

Living Room Chic

I bet you have a table somewhere in your living room. I bet it could use a little updating with some interesting décor. If you have a coffee table, add a tray with candles of varying heights with faux gems sprinkled around them. How about a large wooden tray to properly display a stack of coffee table books? If space is limited, is there an end table that only sees an occasional water ring from a coaster-less cup of lemonade? Place a small tray on the table with a vase of flowers and now you have something to admire and a chic way to hold your favorite glass of wine while relaxing on the couch.

coffee table tray

Jewelry Display

In a world where fashion accessories are everywhere, it’s easy to acquire several different necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pins and rings. We’ve all been there…we open our jewelry box to find a tangled mess of three necklaces, one earring and a bracelet with a missing stone. A great way to untangle the madness is to keep some of your most often warn items on an accessible tray. Not only will you free up space in your jewelry box, you’ll be more likely to wear the items you’ve buried and spice up your wardrobe even more. Hair accessories like headbands and decorative barrettes can stay organized in a container atop the tray for added space and functionality. On my tray at home, I have a deer head jewelry holder, which allows me to hang my favorite items on his antlers! Men can use trays to hold watches, rings, cufflinks and more. A cool option is this USA pennant tray, which can keep keys and sunglasses handy so you can grab them on your way out the door!

USA Tray

Bathroom Vanity

We all have products for personal use. Items like hairspray, lotion, shower gel, makeup, shaving mousse and more can quickly take over your already limited bathroom space. One area we can all maximize is that tray-sized spot sitting atop the toilet tank cover. You might have a box of tissues or additional paper rolls resting there, but you can easily hide those under the sink and place a tray on that area and hold your favorite lotions, perfumes or hair products. This ocean-inspired tray from One Kings Lane is a gender-neutral option that will give you that hotel feel of access to your favorite products in a decorative way.

ocean tray for bathroom

When you consider the workhorse purpose a tray can serve, affordability is another reason why it’s a great option. Trays can be found at a variety of price points depending on materials and size. You could even directly control the amount you pay if you DIY the project to create your own tray, like the ones seen here.

Whether you are using one to serve food, corral unruly items to keep yourself organized or treat it as part of the room’s décor, you could say this home accent is truly “tray chic!”

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