Forget the dinner party: I’m a big believer in the dessert party. It’s simpler—no full meal planning required—and there’s something special about getting together just for dessert.
The only catch? A festive desserts-only party must have a suitably festive display.
I learned this the hard way. When my boyfriend and I had a housewarming a few weeks ago, we decided to make it a Pie Party. (Yes, it was B.Y.O.P.) I had envisioned a table overflowing with desserts, like that scene in Marie Antoinette, minus the foot rub. Just before our guests were set to arrive, I set out a half dozen galettes, crumbles, and crisps on our table, and realized that what I thought would look bountiful and delicious quite literally fell flat.
I had set our flat wares on flat plates, and the display looked sort of like a sad bake sale. It would have been the perfect moment for a few beautiful cake stands or vintage pedestals, if only I had room to store them in our tiny, already-full apartment kitchen.
But then I remembered a trick from Food52’s Art Director Alexis Anthony: using overturned bowls one already has to create makeshift cake stands. In other words, instant, bakery-worthy displays.
I raided our cabinets for bowls and plates of all kinds, balancing littler items atop serving platters resting on upside-down bowls. I left a few bigger pies on low marble slabs, varying the heights. And, bingo: a showstopper dessert table, no cake stands required.
Since then, I’ve been calling in this little trick constantly; it’s small-space friendly and endlessly customizable.
A few pointers:
- Pair like with like—a glass serving platter on an overturned glass bowl, or an ironstone plate atop a low ironstone bowl—for a sophisticated-looking stand that almost looks like it came that way.
- Get creative: I discovered, with surprise, that an overturned ceramic coffee dripper made a jaunty little pedestal. So would a brass colander.
- This trick works well beyond cakes and sweets. Think: multilevel cocktail snacks or appetizers.
Just be sure none of your displays are too tippy; nothing should stop your guests (or you) from digging in.