Anyone can put some desserts out on a table, but setting up a dessert table or cake display can be intimidating if you don’t know what you are doing. Here’s a quick guide to help turn a drab table in to a fab statement at your next event.

First thing’s first! Don’t feel like you have to re-create the wheel. Look at other examples to get your creative juices flowing and try and mimic what you like, while adding elements that might be more personal to your event theme or fit within your budget.

1. Menu: What food items will be on the table? Consider having an assortment of sizes, flavors, shapes and colors. A small variety of cake, cookies, fruit, and even some more savory items can help add color and texture to your décor and your palette and really help to make your table pop. Pro Tip: We normally recommend 3-4 mini desserts per person if your guests aren’t eating a slice of cake. As far as options go, you don’t want to overwhelm your guests with too many choices so we typically say only do 2-3 more options than the amount you are allotting each guest.

2. Covering the Table: Unless you are displaying your desserts on some elegant piece of furniture, cover your table! A table cloth or fabric that is floor length makes the display look a bit more finished and elegant as you aren’t staring at table legs or the ground underneath or behind the table. Pro Tip: Don’t have a floor length table cloth? No worries! Grab a table skirt that can be attached around the front or add a few pieces of accent fabric to add interest or make a statement!

3. Placement: Start in the center. What usually goes in the center of a dessert table…no-brainer, right? A cake! Or if you are little more non-traditional, your biggest item…like a tower of donuts! A cake, depending on the shape and size can help you add height, color, and/or contrast. Sometimes a cake stand is necessary, and other times a taller cake and be placed directly on the table. From there, place taller stands or trays in the back and items that are low or flat closer to the front, mirroring items on each side of the cake. Cake stands can be used to hold desserts or even other accent pieces and décor. But remember, you don’t have to use just a cake stands. If your theme is a little more rustic, try unfinished wood crates. You can even use items like books, mini suitcases, boxes wrapped in paper that correspond with your theme or décor. If you don’t have anything “pretty” to help create height, you can us boxes, crates, or stands and then cover with another layer of table cloth draped on top to create a similar effect that is softer. You can then use items like over-sized tiles or charger plates to place desserts on top of. Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to do a dry run before-hand. If you have all of your décor and cake stands, test it out. See if you have too much, or too little and then add or remove items.

4. Embellishments & Interest: Similar to using a variety of heights and spacing in your placement, consider using a variety of textures, shapes and sizes when you choose your serving pieces and embellishments. Odd number groupings create more interest. Items don’t have to be the same color, shape or size, they just have to coordinate. Pro Tip: Need helping filling the space between desserts, but don’t have a lot left in your budget? There are simple things you can do to fill space. Tented cards or small frames that label your food items, fresh florals, or even objects from your home or local dollar store or Target dollar bin can add personality!

5. Back Drops: Backdrops seem like they might be over the top, but they don’t have to be. Backdrops can really help to anchor the space and tie everything together. Simple backdrops can be made from crepe paper or garlands taped to the wall. They can be made from balloons or paper flowers, or you can use a variety of fabrics or pre-made curtains hung on a stand. Backdrops help cancel out the noise behind your desserts and also make your presentation look more dramatic. Pro-Tip: Amazon has a great selection of themed backdrops you can use in a variety of ways. And to save on money, you can create your own backdrop stand made from PVC that you can use and store year after year for cheap! I’ve got 4 of these made in a variety of sizes that I use over and over for all kinds of events. Wanna know how? Hop on Pinterest for a quick tutorial!

The most important thing to remember is to have fun with it. If at first you don’t succeed.  A well-decorated dessert table doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. It will just take a little practice and some creativity. Best of Luck!