You're planning a tea party celebration and you went out and purchased several tiered cake stands fit for Eloise at the Plaza. Now...what do you put on them? I wrote this blog in response to that question, precisely:

Given their dainty and delicate nature—tiered stands are made of vintage fine china, after all—they generally pair well with foods that you would describe as miniature or bite-sized. While full meals can definitely be served on them, tiered stands are most commonly found gracing tea party tablescapes or buffets during cocktail hour at weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, children's birthday parties (mostly for the benefit of the parents), Mother's Day gatherings and other female-centered festivities.

My Favorite Ways to Use Tiered Stands

Two of my favorite ways to use tiered stands,  also referred to as tiered servers, serving towers, etageres, and cupcake stands (among other names), are

  1. Serving grab-able desserts on a stationary table
  2. Sresenting passed hors d’ouevres and finger foods to guests during cocktail hour (or sweet nibbles for dessert). 

                          pink onesie cookies on a floral 2-Tiered Stand for girl baby shower  tiered stands being used to serve mini quiche at a bridal shower cocktail

Having recently done this for my sister's bridal shower, I can tell you it's such a fun and unexpected way to be served. Her guests really loved it.

[Side barif you’ve been on the wedding “circuit” recently, have you noticed how passed desserts have become a really big thing? Couples “in the know” have wised up to the fact that guests rarely finish their slices of traditional wedding cake, which are usually exorbitantly expensive and rarely represent the baker or pasty chef’s best work. Instead, passed treats, dessert bars, and/or having smaller faux cakes for pictures (and sheet cakes behind the scenes to serve the majority of guests) has become a popular trend. (The same is true for bar/bat mitzvah, sweet 16s, baby namings, etc)].

Scrumptious treats for your tea party (that will look  delightful on your tiered stand)

Menu planning ideas for your tea party-themed bridal shower, baby shower, birthday, Mother's Day and more.


Back to tiered stands: There are a few general guidelines for the kinds of menu items that tend to work best: 

  1. You should be able to eat/fit the entire food item in your mouth in 1-2 bites.
  2. You should be able to consume the item with one hand (so you can hold your cocktail or beverage in the other, of course).
  3. The food shouldn’t be too messy. In case there’s a spill, which happens when people are drinking, eating, walking and talking, you don’t want guests to stain their clothes, the carpet, etc.

Keeping those guidelines in mind, I've included my favorite ideas (in no particular order) for petite, neat, attractive and delicious treats that will be perfect for serving on your tiered stand. 

Top 20 Mini & Bite-sized Sweets
For your Tiered Cake Stand & Dessert Bar


  1. Petit fours (mini decorative cakes)
  2. French madeleines
  3. Scones, biscuits, crumpets
  4. Tarts/tart-lets
  5. Macarons
  6. Cupcakes
  7. Cookie
  8. Pastries
  9. Brownies/blondies
  10. Truffles (chocolate)
  11. Truffled (cake)
  12. Trifle cups (with eco-friendly mini utensils)
  13. Cantucci (smaller biscotti)/Mandelbrot
  14. Rugelach
  15. Choux pastry (golden puffs)
  16. Eclairs
  17. Fruit/fruit cups
  18. Mini doughnuts
  19. Mochi bites
  20. Most larger desserts that have been turned into “cup” form (think: Pie, mousse, creme brulee, cheese cake, parfaits....

Serve an entire meal on your tiered stand?

For tea party-esque events held around lunch time, you will likely be expected to serve an entire meal, incorporating both sweet and savory items. Stay tuned for a future post on menu planning and styling your tiered stand for an afternoon tea-party. In the meantime, here’s a quick preview.

3 tiered cake stand piled high with tea sandwiches, baked goods and afternoon tea treats

Would love to hear your favorite ideas from the above list..or otherwise!
Drop a note in the comments below.

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