Our 5 Best Tips for Making the Perfect Cookie Tray

Planning to host a holiday party this year? Impress your guests with a beautifully arranged cookie tray. Not sure where to start? Follow our easiest tips for creating the perfect treat display.

A holiday celebration wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful display of cookies. These easy tips will have you arranging a cookie tray like a pro in no time—and having friends and family wondering how did she do that?

Not sure what to bake? Here are 150 of our best Christmas cookie recipes.

1. Choose Your Serving Tray

The first step to organizing a cookie tray is selecting a serving dish. Consider how many cookies you need to display. Too large a tray and the presentation will look underwhelming. But too small of a tray will lead to an unwieldy pile of cookies. Ideally, the cookies should be in either a single or double layer.

If space allows, consider using several trays rather than a single large one. This will also make it easier for guests to help themselves to the cookies rather than having to crowd around a single dish.

A simple white platter will make your cookies the star of the show, and the display will be instantly Instagrammable for your social media-savvy guests. Additionally, think beyond the tray. Arranging cookies on cake stands (like these retro cuties) will also lend a little height and visual interest to your cookie display.

2. Include a Wide Variety of Cookies

You may have heard the saying that people eat with their eyes first, so you want your cookie tray to be as enticing as possible. A wide variety of cookies is key to creating a tempting cookie tray.

You don’t need to make every cookie in the book, however. Stick with about five to seven varieties to keep things interesting, but not overwhelming. Include a few nostalgic childhood favorites on your cookie platter. Gingerbread cookies, snowball cookies and peanut butter blossoms are surefire crowd-pleasers.

Press shuffle on this playlist to for just-right cookie baking tunes.

3. Arrange Similar Textures and Flavors Next to Each Other

To keep your cookies at their best, it helps to organize similar types together. For example, strongly flavored cookies, such as mint or molasses cookies, can transfer their flavor to milder cookies, such as sugar cookies. Soft cookies can transfer some of their moisture to crisper cookies, affecting their texture.

If you are using a single platter, consider adding Christmas candies in between the different types of cookies to make a decorative (and tasty) border.

4. Use Geometry to Your Advantage

Round cookies lend well to concentric (think snail shell) arrangements. Put a single cookie in the center of the tray, then arrange the rest of the cookies in circles around the central cookie. Square or rectangular cookies are ideal for horizontal or vertical line arrangements. Layer one cookie slightly on top of the next to create texture in your display.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite bar cookie recipes.

5. Clearly Mark Allergen-Friendly Cookies

If you know in advance that some of your guests have food allergies, prepare and organize separate platters with allergen-friendly cookies. Add labels to identify the gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free or other allergen-free treats. Have a list of ingredients on hand for each type of cookie you are serving in case guests have questions about what is in them.

Start your cookie tray with these easy and oh, so good treats.
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Susan Bronson
Susan Bronson is a writer and editor based in Northern Wisconsin.