Dessert tables have been around for years, but recently they have become the life of the party. When I mentioned dessert table styling to my husband, he smirked and asked if that was a really a thing. Indeed it is, and people can spend hundreds, and yes even thousands of dollars having their parties dessert tables professionally styled. I’m here to tell you can do it yourself, and it will look fabulous. I’ve covered some easy dessert table decorating ideas here that anyone can do.
Location, Location, Location
The first thing you want to do is decide where your dessert table will go and what you plan on using for your table. The easiest thing is to use your kitchen or dining room table. Simply cover it in a tablecloth in your color scheme, or plain white and you’re good to go.
However, you can use anything with a decent-sized surface space. I usually use a table, but I have also used my china cabinet, and for my daughter’s Kitty Cat Ice Cream Social I had my poor husband made a beautiful wooden ice cream stand. It looked amazing but took way longer and cost way more in material than I had originally thought. Anyways, it was a hit with the kids.
Try to put your dessert table somewhere directly in your party space. If your party is going on in another area it won’t get as much notice, and if you’re going to put work into creating a beautiful display you probably want people to see it. If you’re planning on using a backdrop also consider where you have the wall space to put your backdrop up.
Behind the Scene
Adding a backdrop to your dessert table will help to add to the overall theme and effect. For birthday parties I usually put a happy birthday banner hanging behind the table. You can buy simple Happy Birthday banners, custom-made banners, or make your own!
I won’t lie, making your own banner is somewhat time-consuming, but if you enjoy paper crafting they’re a fairly easy craft. You can buy letters already cut out, or you have a few other options. A Cricut or Silhouette die-cut machine makes short work of letters and numbers, but both of these machines are quite expensive.
Another option is a letter punch. While cheaper than the die-cut machines, they still do cost a bit of money, but if you’re already thinking of future party plans this may be a great option. This is what I currently use. I have drawn and cut out the letters myself, but it took a long time and was really frustrating.
You can also choose to make a more elaborate backdrop which can really be a show stopper. These require a poster board, or you can just use the wall behind your table. You can also do balloons, pictures, or whatever you think will look good and go with your theme.
If you don’t have enough free wall space to do a backdrop there are other options. Lining the back of the table with helium balloons at the same height creates an easy backdrop. If you have art or something on the way that you can’t take down you can hang streamers behind the dessert table in coordinating colors like a curtain. Easy and inexpensive.
Sweets, Treats, and Savory Things
Once you’ve got an idea of what you’re going to use for your table surface it’s time to start deciding what to serve and where you’re going to place it on the table. A few weeks before the party I usually just do a rough sketch of what I’m serving and where it should go. This also helps so you don’t forget anything you want to serve, if I have an idea I try to jot it down as soon as I can. If it’s not written down it’s as good as forgotten.
I usually put the cake or cupcakes as the centerpiece, but unless guests are welcome to help themselves to it I put it right at the back of the table. If you have a lot of little ones at the party without direct parent supervision you may want to put the cake under a dome or leave it off altogether. Nothing like little finger prints in the cake you just spent hours decorating.
If you’re serving savory foods on the table as well I try to group those together, closer to the front to encourage guests to eat those as well, not just the sweet treats. No server ware that works for your party? Just use some paper party plates that go with your theme. If my dessert table is packed with no room for savory I sometimes set up a smaller table nearby, or use my kitchen island.
If you want a more sophisticated look to your table, I suggest sticking with white sever ware. Rather than buying dishes in your party’s color theme, white is a great choice. You can use it for any occasion and it looks classy. Try to get a few of the same pieces so you can use it to balance your table out and have some consistency.
Glass containers are also a nice touch to any dessert table. I like to put candy or cookies in them that match the color scheme. Glass drink dispensers are also a nice touch. You can choose a drink that matches the colors as well. Paper straws are also a nice addition.
Your food doesn’t all have to match your party’s color scheme. I try to make at least a few dessert items that match, but don’t overthink it. As long as your cake, decorations, a few accessories go with your theme it will look fabulous. You can add labels for your food if you feel like it. If you’re doing a theme and want to some fun food labels go ahead, but it’s not at all necessary.
Should my dessert table is looking a bit sparse, I’ll add a vase full of flowers in my theme color. You can also add any props that go with your theme as well. Cake plates or other plates on pedestals are another great way to add height and variety to your table. If you don’t have any server ware that works you can use books, pretty boxes, or anything else stable that goes with your color scheme.
Pictured below is a table I did for my book club. It wasn’t a huge get together so I didn’t have a lot of food, but I added a few book-related decorations to fill up space. Instead of a cake plate I used a stack of books. Look around your house, you never know what great props you’ll find to really personalize your dessert table.
Dessert tables definitely aren’t something that you have to do, but it can take your party to the next level. Styling dessert tables is a lot of fun and the result is a great addition to your other party decorations. Setting up a beautiful dessert table doesn’t need to be intimidating or difficult, just find some inspiration and see where it takes you!
If you have any questions about styling a dessert table please leave a comment below, I’m happy to help!