Dessert Table Ideas – 16 Tips to Make your Next Party a Success

Putting together a great looking table for desserts and sweets is not as hard as you might think. These easy dessert table ideas will rock your next party.

Treats table ideas

Do you have an upcoming occasion where you will be serving special desserts?  Many get togethers, such as wedding and baby showers, mother’s day teas, charity events and the holidays will often have a sweets table to showcase some lovely dessert offerings.

I’ve put together my 15 tips for making sure your dessert table is really something special.  Be careful though, after seeing the way you put together your sweets table, your guests may want you to host every gathering from now on!

Be sure to check out this post for other cooking and kitchen tips. They will help you get the most out of your time in the kitchen.

Dress up your special desserts with these fabulous dessert table ideas.

Putting together a special table for desserts for an upcoming party may seem like a daunting task, but it really isn’t.

Just keep these dessert table ideas and tips in mind and planning will be a breeze.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you if you purchase through an affiliate link.

1. The Guests matter. 

It doesn’t do any good to have a frilly sweets table, if the occasion is a some kind of child’s party.  Or perhaps your guests are older, and wild colors may not appeal. 

Think of who your guests will be first and then decorate the table with them in mind.child's dessert table ideas

2. Pick a Theme.

What is the occasion?  You will want to incorporate the theme of the party into the all aspects of the table, so choosing a theme is very important.

A Halloween desserts table will look very different from one for a Baby shower! Once you know your theme, you’ll be able to coordinate desserts to match that look.

Halloween desserts3.  Choose your Colors.  

After choosing the theme, move to the colors.  You will want a cohesive look when  you are done.  Choose your colors and then work around this with plates, napkins, tablecloth.

Most importantly, make sure the desserts themselves coordinate with your colors if you can.  There are lots of ways to bring colors into your desserts themselves for a cohesive look.

5th birthday party dessert table ideas4. Add Heights. 

Height is essential when you are trying to figure out how to set up a dessert table.   This adds interest to the display and allow you to use the tallest placement for your most special desserts.

The dessert table below uses many items to add height to the look of the table. Cake tiers, layer cakes and pedestals all offer an opportunity to add height to the table.

Even the balloons and birdcage seem to be a part of the overall look.cakes and other desserts on a table

5. Use Levels.

You will keep your guest’s eyes moving over the table if you use levels to take you from table level to the higher displays.  This also adds balance and symmetry to the display.

This technique can easily be done by placing dessert plates on overturned bowls of the right color if you don’t want the cost of additional serving dishes of the right height.

You can also add levels with vases of flowers in varying heights. Notice how the eye moves from one level to another on this cluster of Christmas desserts.

Christmas dessert table6. Pick a Focal Point. 

This can either be one really special dessert (such as a tall sheet cake) or a beautiful display of flowers that ties the colors of the table together. 

The focal point does not have to be the tallest either. Choose an area where you gaze would naturally linger on.

All of the desserts on this table are lovely to look at, but the tall sheet cake draws the eyes and the flowers on top tie in with the muted colors of the other desserts.

Table of cakes and sweets7. Make use of a back drop. 

Most dessert tables look best when placed against a wall or background that can be tied into the look of the table. Backgrounds can be created in many ways.

Try using wallpaper, fabric or any number of other resources.   Pinterest is a great place to get inspiration. 

Even using just a single dessert in front of an interesting backdrop adds a dramatic look to a dessert table.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on this either. This simple look is very effective and just uses some soft cloth in back and a wood slice to showcase the cake and drink.

table centerpiece with a single slice of cake8. Be Creative with Desserts. 

No matter how well you decorate your dessert table, if you just have a few brownies, or chocolate chip cookies, it is not going to look special.

If you try to be a little more creative with your dessert table set up, you’ll end up with a more professional look that will wow your guests.

Try serving cupcakes with fancy cupcake wrappers, home made truffles covered in sprinkles, personalized cookies, pretty petit fours, specialty candy and other creative treats.

Decorate the top of cakes or cupcakes in a special way for a delightful look.

colorful decorated cupcakes

More Dessert Table Ideas

Once you have your theme and colors and overall party idea figured out, there are lots of other things that will add to the overall look of your dessert table.

9. Special serving trays add a touch of class to a dessert table.  

There is no room on a dessert table for a metal 8 x 8 baking pan!  This it the time to bring out your prettiest containers. 

Add some apothecary jars for small desserts and pretty plates for petit fours.

Place the cake on a pretty cake stand.  Doing things like this will really dress up your table and make it special.

This easy candy table is all decked out for Independence Day in a Patriotic way. See the tutorial for these easy 4th of July candy jars.

4th July candy table

10. Should you label desserts for your party table?

Some people label every dessert, but I feel that this is unnecessary.  Most of the time I don’t label at all, unless the dessert is really something that the guests would not guess the ingredients (the flavor of a frosted cupcake, for instance.)

If you really want to label, how about a chalkboard menu instead?dessert menu on a chalkboard

11. Don’t plan for too many desserts

Yes, it is wonderful to have some desserts that say “wow,” but if you try to make them all do this, you will be a slave to the kitchen the week before the event. 

Pick just a few really special desserts, choose wisely on their placement and then round out the table with some that are much easier to prepare.

A good rule of thumb is 1 or 2 really special items (which could be bought), 2-3 home made desserts and then 2-3 candy items which can be purchased.  Store bought can be your best friend at a time like this!Good proportions for a dessert table

12. Manage the space on your dessert table. 

If you put your desserts fairly close together, the finished look will be one of abundance.  If your table is larger than the amount of desserts, fill in spaces with creative color matching flowers, or other decorations.Crowded dessert table

13. Moderation is key. 

It is easy to get carried away with a table bursting with desserts.  Your guests will be tempted by them for sure, but won’t eat them all if you have too many.

A table full of sweet treats may look fabulous but do you want these desserts calling your name next week if your guests don’t finish them?

decorated desserts14. Make your Dessert Table the right Size. 

Be sure to choose your table size with your number of guests and the amount of desserts that you will be serving. 

If you don’t, you will either end up with way too many desserts or a table that will need to be filled with too many other items.

If you are using heights, as you should, the table size will be much smaller than you may think. This lovely table photographed by Kristen Ausk on Flickr is the perfect size for the food and extra decorations.

15. Re-purpose dishes to keep the cost of your dessert table down. 

Once you have the theme and the colors, you can look around your home to see what can be re-purposed for the table. Stuffed animals are perfect for kid’s dessert tables.

A set of pastel ice cream bowls will, make great candy dishes for an Easter table.pastel bowls and matching spoons

16. Summer Dessert Table Ideas.

Having desserts outside in the summer months can be a challenge because of the heat. See my tips for a summer dessert table here.individual portion servings

17. Easy Recipes for Your Dessert Table

Getting ready and setting up a dessert table takes a lot of time, so use common sense when it comes to choosing the types of desserts you will be serving.

Some of my favorites are easy bar recipes. They are quick to assemble, very tasty and seem to disappear quickly on any dessert table.

I’ve put together a collection of over 25 of my tested bar and slices recipes that are sure to be a success on any dessert table.Delicious bar recipes for any occasion

Once you have incorporated these tips, have fun!  No matter how your table looks, your guests will love what you have put together. It isn’t about perfection but about sharing and having fun with friends.16 dessert table tips

Pin these dessert table ideas for later

Would you like a reminder of these tips for a dessert table?  Just pin this image to one of your household tips boards on Pinterest.
Dessert table ideas and tips
Admin note: This post first appeared on the blog in July of 2013. I have updated the post to add a printable check list, new photos and tips and a video for you to enjoy.

By now, you may be wondering what to add to your dessert table.  Why not try one of these really Special desserts? Any of them would look wonderful on a dessert table.These 25 dessert recipes are perfect for any special occasion.

1.  7 layer Bars – aka “Magic Bars” really have a magical taste!

2.  Chocolate cherry snowballs.

3.  Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake.

4.  Elegant Eggnog Dessert.

5.  Christmas Cake with Marzipan Bow.

6.  Lemon Cheesecake Creme Brulee Bars.

7.  Chocolate Pecan Pudding Cake.

8.  Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta.

9.  Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes.

10. Two Kiss Cupcakes.

11. Strawberry Cheesecake Parfaits.

12. Cotton Candy Cookies.

13. Neopolitan Cream Filled Cupcakes.

14. Creamsicle Meringues.

15. Lemon Melting Moments.

16. Peach Cookies.

17. Confetti Cookies.

18. Edible Teacup Cookies.

19. Best Yellow Cake with Candy Kiss and Wafer Decoration.

20. French Silk Chocolate Pie.

21. Chocolate Coconut Balls.

22. Chocolate Pudding Cupcakes with Strawberry Centers.

23. Orange Sponge Cake Roll.

24. Spiral Sugar Cookies.

25. Champagne Cake.

26. Want your guests to feel really special?  Offer them Billionaire Bars!

Yield: 1 spectacular Party Table

Dessert Table Check List

Dessert Table Check List

Print out this check list and take it with you when you are shopping to make sure you don't forget anything when planning your dessert table.

30 minutes 30 minutes
2 hours 2 hours
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Difficulty easy
Estimated Cost $25-50

Materials

  • Table
  • Tablecloths
  • Serving dishes
  • Party food

Instructions

  1. Consider your guests when planning to choose the right table
  2. Decide on a theme.
  3. Choose the overall party colors.
  4. Use heights and levels to make the eye move around the table.
  5. Have at least one focal point on the table.
  6. Use a back drop behind your focal point.
  7. Be creative with desserts and displays.
  8. Use special serving trays.
  9. Consider adding a chalkboard menu.
  10. Don't plan for too many desserts.
  11. Place desserts close together and use moderation in numbers.
  12. Keep the table and amount of desserts in balance.
  13. Repurpose old dishes to keep costs down.
  14. If you are doing the cooking plan easy desserts.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission, but the price will be the same for you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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