Serve A Crowd With Inexpensive, Fun Lap Trays

While I may not be the best cook in the world, I do love to entertain.  The more the merrier is my motto, which is why I love this inexpensive but fun way to help serve a crowd when entertaining.  

memorial day ikea tray
smula-tray  12979 PE091936 S4

I found these clear plastic trays at Ikea and just fell in love!

They are called "Smula" and retail for $1.99 per tray.  

What an incredible deal as they are very sturdy and can be used in so many different ways! 


1.  Purchase the amount of trays that you need for your event.

one ikea tray - multiple trays

2.  Purchase a wrapping paper to coordinate with your event.  

ikea tray wrapping paper choices

I used the red stripe for the Memorial Day trays.  You could also use this paper for July 4th and Christmas.  I used the red, white and green papers during the Christmas season for a large party I had, and I use the green swirl for everyday use.  

3.  Make a template of the base of the tray.

ikea tray template

The easiest way to make a template is to cut a sheet of the wrapping paper a little larger than the tray, and with your fingernail press around the edges of the tray to get an outline.  Then just cut around the indention of the line you made.  

If you need to cut a large amount of patterns, you can make one template, roll out the paper on the floor, trace the pattern multiple times and then cut.  Because I use these often, I have laminated my template so it is easier to use.

ikea tray tracing multiple times

5.  Add other decorative elements on top of the wrapping paper.  

ikea tray adding decoration

Here I cut out a paper American Flag and used a glue stick to adhere.  The possibilities are endless with ways to decorate.  At the end of this post, I have added some photos of trays that I have decorated for other occasions.

6.  Laminate the cut outs and trim off the excess.

ikea tray laminate

I use my Apache laminator at 356 degrees when I am short on time.  But my preferred method of laminating is to visit a School Box store and have them laminate on their large machines. The laminate at School Box is very light weight and the price is excellent.  Many schools and churches also have laminating machines that you might could use.

7.  Place on the trays.  Serve and enjoy!

memorial day ikea tray

I really love these trays because they can be used for any event.  The design possibilities are just endless!  The trays themselves can even be painted.

ikea painted tray

I hope you have an opportunity to create your own trays and if you do, I would love to see a photo!

Happy Memorial Day!


Here are a few more examples:

sheila's ikea tray

happy thanksgiving tray

christmas ikea tray

valentines ikea tray

If you are planning a big party, you might want to check out this post on How To Avoid A Gut Bomb to keep your guests even happier!

© margaret young