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.
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.