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Styled Eats: Acrylic Trays

A lot of caterers use acrylic trays as a way to present food. It is a really clean and modern way to serve food to your guests. This project shows you how to make your own tray. We’ve done it here for cotton candy but you could use it for just about anything on a stick. It is really simple, all you need is to be able to drill a few holes. I think these would be great for a cocktail party or baby shower, or making an awesome Amy Atlas style dessert table. I also really like that you would be able to reuse these over and over for future parties!

Full instructions after the jump…

To make the cotton candy you can rent a cotton candy machine. We decided to buy one of these at-home-machines for $40. I was pretty pleased with the results. They work great for small parties but if I had to produce a lot for a school class or large group I would still rent a large machine from a party supply store. (Tip: we found we had better luck spinning the cotton candy on a wood stick rather than acrylic so we transferred them over to the acrylic sticks afterwards.)

Materials Needed: Thick acrylic slab, 1/8″ drill bit for plastic, 1/8″ acrylic sticks.
To make acrylic trays like this cost effective, the key is to hit the remnant bin at an industrial plastic store. Here in San Francisco we have TAP Plastics. They have large thick slabs in various colors and thicknesses for about $10. (If you don’t go the route of the remnant bin they can cost from $30-$50!) In addition we picked up 1/8″ thick acrylic sticks that we cut down to the size we wanted–about 7″ long. We also purchased a $5 drill bit in 1/8″ that was specifically designed to drill through plastic. All the supplies for the tray came out to about $20 and every tray after will cost about $10.

Step 1: Figure out how big you will make your cotton candy and decide how far apart you want your holes. Mark the liner on top of the slab where you are going to drill your holes.
Step 2: Using your drill bit for plastic make a hole 2/3 of the way through the slab. Check if the stick fits, if it doesn’t work the drill in the hole to widen it until it fits.
Step 3:  Peel back the liner and voila! You’ve got a tray for your party!


By Jordan Ferney and Alexis Birkmeyer Thanks to Courtney for being an impromptu model.


  1. Janina

    June 5, 2012

    Oh! So lovely! My brother got a candy-cotton-machine a few months ago and this will be a great gift for him. And as you can store it space-saving it’s practically AND stylish. Can you imagine his clueless face after opening the gift-box? A DIY-sculpture?!

    Love this idea! Thank you!

  2. Leah // Freutcake

    June 5, 2012

    I absolutely love this! Totally fun.

  3. sarah

    June 5, 2012

    I love it! I’ve been needing something like this for my cotton candy! super cute!

  4. Paige

    June 5, 2012

    Great post! But please tell me, where did she get that adorable pink striped dress from!? Everyone’s outfits in your blog are always perfect.

      • jordan
      • June 5, 2012

      Thanks Paige. The dress is vintage! I got it off ebay a few years ago.

  5. Lisa

    June 5, 2012

    Aaaaand now I want a cotton candy machine. Great idea with the trays, they look so elegant in the end product! I’ll have to try this.

  6. katie

    June 5, 2012


  7. Lissa (Bellenza)

    June 5, 2012

    Cool, clever and practical party accessory!

  8. Nicole

    June 5, 2012

    I love this project! So fun! I need to try this soon!

  9. Erika ~TiptoeButterfly~

    June 5, 2012

    i think i may be obsessed!

  10. katie

    June 5, 2012

    Great presentation idea!

    As a person who actaully OWNS a cotton candy machine I forsee this in my future.

  11. Caitlin

    June 5, 2012

    love this! it could be great to display cake pops too!

  12. Julie

    June 5, 2012

    Super DIY idea! U had me at Cotton Candy 🙂

  13. Melinda

    June 5, 2012

    Love the cotton candy, but also (as expressed above) tell me more about that dress!

  14. LARY@ Inspiration Nook

    June 5, 2012

    LOVE THIS!!! Cotton Candy will always be my fave, no matter my age!

  15. Evani G

    June 5, 2012

    This is brilliant! Making one for my cake pops!

  16. Savanah

    June 5, 2012

    Pretty, pretty, pretty!!

  17. Alessandra

    June 5, 2012

    I love her striped dress!!!

  18. Laure Faraggi

    June 5, 2012

    Juste parfait ! J’adore l’idée

  19. Britney

    June 5, 2012

    That dress is so perfect for these photos!!!!
    -Britney of L&H

  20. Pink Ronnie

    June 5, 2012

    I feel like heading out to the nearest carnival and getting myself some of that pink fairy floss!
    Agree with everyone above – that pink dress is just delightful. But I love the polkadot too.
    Ronnie xo
    p.s. Great styling.

  21. Kathryn Cumming

    June 5, 2012

    Great idea…
    …it really seems quite easy!

  22. Mrs Average Bride

    June 6, 2012

    This is a really cute and simple idea. I would love to use this at a wedding!

  23. Lindsay - ShopEllaLou

    June 6, 2012

    I am amazed. AGAIN! Oh Happy Day posts never cease to give me endless inspiration!

    This idea is absolutely ingenious and relatively easy to achieve yet I would have never, ever thought to make one on my own. The potential uses are endless – thanks so much for sharing!

  24. Anuszka

    June 6, 2012

    O, Gosh, i love cotton candy :)))

  25. Danielle

    June 6, 2012

    Ha, that’s funny, I just made cotton candy at home and posted about it last week. It’s a bit time consuming, but fun! Love your display, it looks great! I love the last picture, it’s so cute!

  26. Soo-Jin

    June 7, 2012

    i love it! but i think it’s the cotton candy display that makes me love it the most! such a great idea!!

  27. wendy

    June 7, 2012

    So cute! Where is that lovely pokadot shirt from?

  28. Ags

    June 9, 2012

    LOVE it! Very clever

  29. Lisa

    June 10, 2012

    WOW!Love love love!It’s my favourite!
    And such a genius idea!

  30. fontlover

    June 11, 2012

    which font is used in the title “Cotton Candy” ?! thx

  31. Katie

    June 11, 2012

    Lovely! I always see these things and think to myself, “I need that.”. 🙂 Now I can have one!! If only I had a way to make cotton candy, too. Yum! 😀

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