Once in a while, I hit on a brilliant idea, mostly out of necessity! When my serving space, during an outdoor dinner party, became cramped, I thought of other cheese board ideas and came up with “going vertical”. This vertical appetizer was the hit of the evening! It was so easy! I’ll show you how…

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Don’t you love when you hit upon an idea that is brilliant? This doesn’t happen very often at all but when it does it’s almost magical! While setting an al fresco table for a group of friends I ran out of room for the appetizers. So instead of spreading the appetizers out like I normally would, I went vertical!!! How smart was that?

I used a stately silver tiered tray to plate the appetizers! Easy and pretty. Functional and fabulous. Just my style…

You can find the silver appetizer tray HERE.



I’m all about easy appetizers! If I cook dinner I buy appetizers. Period! And you can get some pretty delicious bites at your local grocer’s. 

For this vertical appetizer I bought fruit already cut up in the produce aisle, meats and cheeses from the deli, crackers, and olives and pickled veggies from the olive bar. Couldn’t have been more simple!

CREATING A VERTICAL APPETIZER-Instead of spreading appetizers out on a table think about going UP! So fun and unexpected!

The key to making an appetizer look scrumptious is to make it colorful! YUMMY!

CREATING A VERTICAL APPETIZER-Instead of spreading appetizers out on a table think about going UP! So fun and unexpected!


I arranged the appetizers on a pretty tray. 

CREATING A VERTICAL APPETIZER-Instead of spreading appetizers out on a table think about going UP! So fun and unexpected!

Add some cute plates and napkins and you are all ready for your guests!

CREATING A VERTICAL APPETIZER-Instead of spreading appetizers out on a table think about going UP! So fun and unexpected!

Here are some fun appetizer combinations for your next get-together!

  • spanakopita
  • mini quiche
  • crab puffs
  • taquitos
  • nuts
  • cheese
  • meats
  • fruit
  • crackers
  • mini hot dogs
  • mozzarella balls
  • bruschetta and toast rounds
  • artichoke hearts
  • shrimp
  • potstickers
  • mini egg rolls

The next time company’s coming think VERTICAL!

What is your favorite easy appetizer?

You might like to see my HOLIDAY VERTICAL CHEESE BOARD

DECOR STEALS-vertical cheese




CREATING A VERTICAL APPETIZER-Instead of spreading appetizers out on a table think about going UP! So fun and unexpected!


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  1. Great idea and since my mind is turning to the holidays , your holiday tray is the perfect idea and just stunning. We have a farm house table that usually becomes the gathering spot for all our get togethers. I think something like this placed on a lazy Susan would be perfect. Oh and thank you for listing all the yummy foods you used, that helps a lot .

  2. Nice idea, Yvonne. I have several tiered trays and I never think about using them. Your holiday cheese board looks scrumptious. Love the glowing candle idea. With the holidays coming and lots of gatherings with family and friends, I’m certainly going to think vertical!

  3. Love this idea! A bunch of us ladies get together monthly for Bunco! We using go all out on preparing finger type foods. Vertical works great and saves a lot of space.

  4. Both of those tiered trays look lovely…and delicious! My favorite appetizer is an assortment of cheese and crackers, raw veggies, nuts, and seasonal fruit. I would love to buy a tiered tray, but with a small kitchen that has limited space, I”ll have to think of what I can sacrifice. I wonder, do the tiered trays come apart for storage?

    1. @ Jen.D. … Some do come apart for storage; some don’t. I love different serving pieces – including tiered ones like Yvonne’s. My kitchen has what a designer would call “wasted space” above the kitchen cabinets. To me, it isn’t wasted at all as I use that area to store my larger serving pieces. I try to arrange them in “clusters” … in other words not just evenly spaced out across the top but arrange in a decorative manner. They may get a bit dusty between bouts of entertaining but a quick wash and they’re ready for use.

      I sometimes also use a tiered tray in a vignette on the kitchen table so before company, it’s already in place and it’s just a matter of removing a few non-food items. Hope this helps!

  5. Oh I love the vertical party ideas! I can imagine so many ways to use this great idea! Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy reading your blog & all the exciting things I can learn from it!

  6. Yvonne, I love this idea, because I have a smaller island and like to serve my friends/family from that with my appetizers. I am definitely going to try this for my next fall party. I hope you have a beautiful day! Shelley

  7. I love a space saver!!! This would be great at our church socials too when we are limited on space. Now to see if I can find that pie tower I’ve stored somewhere!

  8. Your tablescapes always look so inviting. I just made a new appetizer that was a hit. Put ground chicken in a frying pan and when done add taco seasoning. When this is combined, put a spoonful on a scoop chip. These can be put in the oven to keep warm until served. My friends enjoyed them.

  9. Perfect timing, Yvonne! I’m giving a “clothing show” next month and love this idea! I’m always seeing these tiered trays at Home Goods, and I always think “what would I do with that?” You just gave me the best ideas, and I love the Holiday Vertical Cheese Board. When hosting a party, it’s always best to buy some pre-made or pre-cut produce to save your energy and your sanity. I’m going to do this for my party, it’s also beautiful!

  10. Thank you for this idea and the decorations. This is something that I know I can do and everyone enjoy.

  11. Fabulous idea! I would have only used an item like this for small desserts. Thank you so much for sharing your food ideas, too. As we go into the “holiday season,” it is easy to fall on the tried and true. This has inspired me to mix it up in my planning! By the way, do you remember where you got the beautiful “fish” plates?


    1. Christi – Besides food presentation, tiered trays are just as great used in decor. Place some Christmas balls or pinecones (and candles on the upper tier), tuck in some faux or real greenery OR for Fall, place acorns, faux bittersweet, walnuts and small pumpkins. There are TONS of ways of using tiered trays that don’t have to involve food. They can look lovely in a bathroom holding a few perfume bottles and prettily-wrapped soaps, etc. Just play with them and have fun!

  12. Yvonne. It looks beautiful and delicious! I love to make entertaining easy, so I can enjoy my guests! Pam @ Everyday Living

  13. Thanks for the great idea of vertical entertaining. I plan on using a vertical stand for our fall gathering for graham crackers, marshmellows, and chocolate,can not wait! Have a great day!

  14. My new “fave” appetizer is to wrap mozzarella cheese sticks or pickled asparagus spears (mid stick)with thin strips of Italian Prosciutto .
    Have learned that cutting mozzarella sticks length wise before wrapping not only doubles the servings but is really more pleasing to the pallet!

  15. I’ve done my desserts this way for ages, but for some reason I’ve never thought of going vertical with my appetizers! Duh! Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes!

  16. Love reading your blog first thing in the morning with my hot lemon and honey water! It’s such a pleasant way to start my morning. I have several tiered tray and dish sets but have never thought of using them vertically for appetizers. Thanks for helping me think “outside of the box”. Going to use this idea next time we have the neighbors over for game night.

  17. Great idea for our card group which gathers weekly. I can do nuts, trail mix , and dried fruits. Oh and throw in some m n ms.

  18. Great idea Yvonne. We are big on appetizers at our house. Almost preferred over the main meal at family get togethers. I love that tiered tray. Can you share where you got that or brand so we can hunt it up? Thanks!

  19. I love this idea! I have a antique blue double tier plate that was my mom’s. She would love that I’m using it to display it for family and friends. Thanks for sharing the idea! Always something new and fun from you!

  20. I love this! Genius idea..of course it came from StoneGable..beautiful photography and design too! Would you mind sharing your monogrammed wine glasses source? Could it be Pottery Barn? Have a beautiful day!

  21. I have actually never thought of going vertical with my appetizers. I have a large island in my kitchen but sometimes it doesn’t seem big enough. I’ll try the vertical method next time.

  22. Another BRILLIANT idea, Yvonne! It’s so serviceable and the tiered server looks so appetizing! Thanks for sparking our imaginations again! Gael from Orcas Island, Washington

  23. Perfect timing Yvonne. I am hosting my Bunco group next week, and while we always have a few munchies at each table, I love to have some nicer apps to eat while we mingle before play begins. This will be perfect!!

  24. Well now I know what to do with my two tiered plate racks. Love how you keep thinking ‘ outside the box’ . Guess it’s time to pull them out and put them on display at our next gathering. Thank you for reminding us that we don’t have to do it all. If we are cooking the main meal, buy some lovely appetizers and\ or dessert. How refreshing ! Thank you again!

  25. I am a “do -it-yourself kind of cook, but thanks for giving me permission to buy apps at the store! Everything tastes better when it is presented beautifully!

  26. Vertical appetizers! Like others, I have done sweets/desserts on a tiered tray many times. Thanks for the inspiration. Now my wheels are turning!

    PS. Making THE Dip for guests tomorrow! Can’t wait to try it.

  27. Guess I won’t be selling my tiered silver tray after all..I have rarely used it but see now it has an excellent purpose…also enjoy your Sunday posts so much!

  28. I love this idea and have pinned it so I remember it for the holidays! It’s a great combination for guests to snack on who have been traveling and want a snack before dinner.

  29. This is a great idea. I loved the little bowl of cherries 🙂 My favorite appetizer is baked brie with dried apricot and prunes marinated in madeira.

  30. Brilliant indeed! (Hitting my palm on my forehead.) Why haven’t I thought of this before for appetizers? I will have to do this the next time I host my Book Club.

    As always your photos and presentation of your food and beverages are beautiful. You are my “go to” for inspiration for both decor and hostess ideas. Keep them coming! 🙂

  31. Love this idea! I never thought of using my tiered tray for appetizers. Thanks once again for the incredible inspiration!

  32. Yvonne wonderful idea. So beautifully arranged. Your photography is beautiful. The colors pop (even in the background). Thanks for all the tips you give to make life easier, beautiful, tasty and fun. ?

  33. If you don’t have a tiered tray you can use a dinner plate, lunch plate, and a cup or bowl turned upside down between them to make one. Less to store!

  34. I seldom buy pre made food because there are so many recipes I want to try. Thanks for helping me give myself permission to make things a little easier.

  35. It made me hungry looking at all the scrumptious food. How creative you are. You mentioned the give away. Being a person who has never won a thing, it makes me happy to know that you’re givng us this great opportunity. Thanks a bunch, Yvonne.

  36. As a “collector” of verticals, I have used them in various ways over the years ~ from tea parties with our grandpeeps, to appetizers, for chocolate fondue dippers, and beyond. Oh my. Still I found your photo and menu ideas colorful and inspirational. What came to mind right away is to arrange our Friday night suppers vertically. Empty nesters, both still working, we find that cheeses, salumi, crackers, and crudité make a quick and easy kicked back meal at the end of the work week. It’s fun to arrange these simple meals in appetizing ways. Thank you for suggestions that will add a bit of a TGIF party mood.

  37. Pretty and good repurposing for something unexpected.
    I did fruit kabobs for my daughter’s grad school graduation party, and what a hit they (surprisingly) were!!

  38. What an unexpected way to repurpose an item, too!!

    I did fruit kabobs for my daughter’s grad school graduation party, and (surprisingly) they were pretty and a hit!!

    Love new twists to old ideas!

  39. Beautiful display as usual!!! I have stacked several cake pedestals of different sizes together to create vertical space….works great for food as well as decorative items but it is a good idea to use something to keep them from slipping

  40. I recently noticed two sets of two-tier trays gathering dust on top of my mom’s refrigerator. One is glass; the other is silverplate. After reading your post today, I am SO asking her for them the next time I’m at her house. LOL! Thanks for a great idea!

  41. I’ll be using this idea on a table at an upcoming couples party. We’re using a Fiesta theme and I’m searching for ideas. Thanks!

  42. What a great idea, Yvonne! Like another commenter above, I have put desserts on a 3-tiered server before, but never appetizers. Why on earth not? Your table setting looks beautiful; wish I could see all of it. Thanks for the great idea!

  43. Lovely as always Yvonne! You got me at the blue dishes! great idea –saves space and everything all in one place! I LOVE your blog –so many good, practical ideas.

  44. Thanks for another fabulous tip Yvonne ! I received a gorgeous McKenzie Child’s 3 tiered server 10 years ago from my husband……how I thrilled to pile ‘up’ all my dainty desserts on it…at this point in our life we tend to have people over for ‘impromptu cocktail fests’ and I can’t wait to use this special piece for apps and nibbles….! True thanks for all you do for us !!!!….Smiles……..Anne

  45. I love the three tiered serving piece you used for the appetizers! I have several of those ranging from galvanized to milk glass. Your idea to have vegetables, fruit and meat and cheese is wonderful!

  46. I sure do like your style! I have never thought of putting appetizers on a tiered tray. I will be trying that the next time I have guests over.

  47. I like that idea. I had a shower at my house recently and just put things out on trays, and now I wish I had seen this first.

  48. i love using tiered platters and pedestal plates when entertaining. the added height adds interest and like you said it’s also a space saver. your tiered tray looks beautiful like everything you do. xo- maryjo

  49. What I really like about this is the space it saves on the table (as well as the pretty display). Sometimes you need BOTH space and appearance and this does the trick! Thanks!!

  50. Yes, you are very clever, and also generous. I use my 2 tiered pie server to hold friut, or appetizer plates. I like the way you think!

  51. I love all your ideas and the vertical appetizers is no exception! You are teaching me so much! Can I ask what exactly are the long skinny sticks? Are they crackers or pretzels? Thanks again for sharing so many wonderful ideas with us!

  52. I love this look for appetizers! I often go vertical for desserts but will try this soon for appetizers. I also used 3 stacking glass cake plates wen I made your chicken salad in puff pastry recipe. They looked and tasted fabulous! Thank you Yvonne for all of your inspiration!

  53. I have several similar silver tiered servers I use for Christmas candies and deserts. I never thought to use them for appetizers but now that I know, I look forward to pretty, space saving apps on my tables. Thank you for a simple but very useful and attractive idea!

  54. What a wonderful idea! I have a 3 tiered china stand of my mother’s that I’ve used for sweets but never thought to use for savoury appetizers also. I’m going to Pin this to remind me. Thanks Yvonne 🙂

  55. Just what I have been looking for! I love offering fig jam and honey too! I am going to use my Pottery Barn 3 tiered galvanized stand that I found the Spring at Goodwill for $10!!! $69.00 price tag still on the bottom! Yippee!!!

  56. Your inspirational ideas are practical as well. Will use this one soon, as I have a 3 tiered stand that requires dinner plates. once again, thank you.

  57. My very first time commenting although I’ve followed your blog for almost a year! I so look forward to your beautiful, inspired layouts. I’m all about presentation and the beauty of the details. Love the vertical display of appetizers! Thank you for my daily dose of inspiration! Admiring fan of yours! Cindy

  58. Love your 3-tiered trays. Looks like you have a couple of different ones. How many do you have? You probably have collected them over the years. Everything looks delicious and spectacular.

  59. That serving piece is gorgeous! My boyfriend cringes every time I bring home a new piece like that, but I’ve learned vertical STORAGE is also key: I hang them from hooks!

  60. I love your blog, Yvonne, and it is one I try to visit daily. Thanks for your ideas and for showing how creativity and beauty can be a part of homemaking. Your appetizers on the tiered tray are a feast for the eyes and the body! Thanks for listing appetizer ideas, too.

  61. I love this , it is a beautiful way to serve food, and you know what they say, we eat with our eyes first!

  62. Yvonne – Loving this great idea – for the space saving it provides on your table and also the versatility of the designs based on the seasons or the holiday ! Thanks for the inspiration. Hugs, Dorinda

  63. As always you inspire me! Sitting here this morning going over some of your post….as always enjoy each and every one

  64. I am going to use this tiered appetizer idea! I am always squeezed for space. It is functional and creative– full of possibilities

  65. Getting ready to have a graduation party for my grandson……great ideas for helping display the food. Thanks so much.

  66. This is beautiful …….love……love!Where did you get the silver tiered server? I love it. I am also making some of your recipes. Taste great. Thanks for sharing your inspiration and beautiful home. Jennifer

  67. Thanks Yvonne for a wonderful idea for summer entertaining. Absolutely beautiful and easy.
    Can’t wait to do this summer

  68. Good morning,

    Sensational summer entertaining idea with the vertical server. Can’t wait until we can be normal again to use your cheery ideas.

    Where may I find the blue and white/fish plates. Perfect for appetizers.

    So enjoy your suggestions and style. Keep up the wonderful work.


    Leigh E. Fobes

  69. Could you show some ways to decorate three tiered trays? I have a pretty wicker tray and don’t know what to put on it. You have a wonderful blog, enjoy it so much.