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Creative Serving Dishes

Category Food Tips
Liven up your party or family meal by repurposing containers or dishes for serving the various courses, including beverages. This is a guide about creative serving dishes.


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By 3 found this helpful
December 27, 2010

Instead of purchasing expensive serving dishes for every holiday, place a cloth napkin over an everyday plate. You can place the plate on a cake stand for a little extra presentation. If serving foods that may stain, line with a small piece of wax paper.

If you need to purchase napkins for this tip (on sale of course) remember red works for the most holidays: Christmas, Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, etc.

By Jenifer M. from New Haven, CT

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January 16, 2008

When you want to make a nice appetizer, present it in a martini or margarita glass. I made southern spicy shrimp over grits. Lovely presentation. Be creative. Just make sure nothing is too hot, or too cold so you don't break the glass.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 18, 2007

To dress up your chips and dips tray for your next party or get together, instead of serving your dip in a dish, use a red or green bell pepper. Cut off the top 1/4, take out the seeds and membrane. Pare the bottom of the pepper so it will sit flat, rather than be rocking when you're moving your serving platter.


Put your dip into the pepper. I got great compliments when I did this. If you're having a much bigger party, you can use a hollowed out head of red cabbage for your dip, or any other veggie of your choice. No one says we have to use dishes as our serving devices. Let your imagination run wild!

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October 10, 2006

Would you love to throw a party, but you don't have enough nice serving dishes? Well here are a couple of low cost ideas.

First remember that serving dishes don't always have to match your dishes. Keep a look out for coordinating pieces that will match your dishes at thrift stores and yard sales. I found a bowl that matches, but it is too small so I pair it with a platter. Turn the bowl over and set the platter on top. This is where clear glass works well as it matches everything and the great thing is that you can buy clear glass trays and bowls at every thrift store in every part of the country for very cheap. Clear glass is great for partyware as it reflects the light from candles or twinkle lights set on a table. When searching your thrift store look for trays and bowls that are not dishwasher damaged, cracked, or chipped.


Large punch bowls can be used for potato salad or any large salad. Punch cups can be used for individual deserts or salads just think of the handles as a great place to put a bow or attach a spray of silk flowers.

All the party experts talk about setting tables with lifts and levels and I have a neat way of making footed serving dishes. While you are searching the thrift stores and yard sales keep your eyes open for tall clear glass vases. When you get them home match them up with some of your glass trays. You can start with a clear salad plate if you like. Turn it over so the bottom side is up and using clear silicone glue the vase turned upside down to the plate. Allow to dry, this should take 24 hours. Now take the glass tray and glue it to the bottom of the vase right side up. You now have an elevated serving piece. Depending on the size, you can put anything from snacks to sandwiches or a cake on it. You can also do this with a large brandy snifter and a small glass plate. Look around, vases and glasses come in all different sizes just let your imagination wander. These are not dishwasher safe so they will have to be hand washed, but people will be amazed when you tell them how you made them.

Always check the silverware bin at the thrift store, you will be amazed at all the large serving spoons and forks you will find there for just pennies. Look for pie servers, cake knifes, and salad tongs in the kitchen bin. I also pick up any silver plate I find as I can either set an eclectic table with mismatched patterns of silver plate or if the tines or bowls are pitted I can cut that part off with a hacksaw and bend the handle around to make neat napkin rings.

Have fun with it and I hope your next party is a big success.

By Debra In CO

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
March 30, 2007

I am planning an 80th birthday party in May for my mother. We have decided to serve punch, but nobody owns a punch bowl and we don't want to purchase one just for this occasion. Does anyone have any alternative ideas we can use for a punch bowl? Also we are searching for ideas to make this party special- any ideas would be welcomed. Thanks!


Joanne from Canonsburg, PA


By Ashley (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

Hello!:) I was at a party at a friend's house not too long ago....she did not have a punch bowl, either, but had a cute idea! She carved out a watermelon to look like a basket and put her punch inside of the shell with some melon balls floating in it. It was a great addition to the table....and everyone loved the idea!:) I have a punch bowl but, think I am going to use the Melon Basket idea next time, too!;) Hope that offers some help to you.

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By Mitzi (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

You could use a low bowl with a wide bottom turned upside down and place a lovely crystal bowl on top of it for the punch bowl. If the bottom bowl is not so lovely, cover it with a cloth napkin and ruffle it up a bit around the edges or place some greenery from your yard around the base on top of the covered bowl. Do consider going to your local thrift shop though as they more often than not have punch bowls. You could also consider a plastic crystal bowl from your local upscale supermarket.


However, if you asked a few of your church, club or womens' group friends, I bet you would find one you could borrow in pretty short order! One rather inexpensive idea for decor is to place a paper gift bag in the middle of each each table, tie a few balloons around a weight of some sort and place in the bag. Finish off with tissue paper coming out the top. It is cute and colorful. Hope you will have loads of fun!! Mitzi

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By Joanne (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

What a great idea Ashley. I may just give that a try.
I will certainly keep it in mind for parties this summer. Thanks

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By Concetta (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful


I have a few ideas.

1. Email all of your friends, neighbors and relatives asking if anyone has a punch bowl you can borrow.
2. The watermelon, as described above.
3. If its cool enough, you can do an ice bowl, but the temp has to be low enough it will last. To do that, I usually put water into a large bowl, and a smaller bowl in between and freeze.
4. Depending on the "chic" level of the party, I've used everything from aquariums to horse troughs for parties I have thrown.
5. If you really want a punch bowl, its garage sale season! You can usually find them for under $10 at a garage sale.
6. If you wanted to try something classier, you could assign younger relative (age 10-15) to be punch servers and walk around with champagne glasses filled with punch. Very fun, when I did it a few years back for my grandma's 50th wedding anniversary.

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By Tanya (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

How about glass fruit bowls or salad bowls? You can also buy nice "fancy" bowls at the dollar stores.
For glasses you can buy some nice plastic wine glasses or similar at dollar stores.
Hope it all goes well!

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March 30, 20070 found this helpful

You could use an large bowl for a punch bowl. Depending on how many people you could use a large pan or a small metal garbage can, a large planter. These items could be covered in fun fabric -wall paper or crepe paper. One thing we did for my aunt was send a form or pretty notebook paper with each invitation and ask the person to write their favorite memory of our aunt. We put all the responses in a predecorated notebook. We took a picture of the person that wrote the memory and then put the picture with the memory they wrote in the notebook. This would provide lots of good memories for you and your mother to share.

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March 30, 20070 found this helpful

You could use assorted glass pitchers instead of bowls. Arrange them in a circle with spouts pointing in and have a small posy style bouquet in a glass vase in the center.
As for ideas, try decorating with old photos which can be blown up relatively inexpensively of occasions in your mom's life, past birthdays etc.

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March 30, 20070 found this helpful

I would have to concur with the offer of salad bowl(s) to help you our so you don't have to spend the money on a punch bowl. All you need is a large container with a soup ladel and some pretty things floating in the, ice cubes, melon balls, etc.

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By AtlantaPat (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful


If you have a trifle dish or a cake dish with a pedastal, you can turn it upside down -and on the pedastal place a larger, deep bowl on it, or the cake cover. It is hard to visualize, I am sure. I have done this and it works fine and looks pretty. Then you can buy some clear plastic punch cups from a party store; or use decorative paper cups. I hope that this helps!

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By (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

How about using pretty pitchers, or a gallon "iced tea" jug.

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By Sheri (Guest Post)
March 30, 20070 found this helpful

Have friends and family write a letter or note on how they know your mother, maybe include a story or memory about her. Have them send the letter to you. Since you have more than a month, you should have time to copy and gather the letters and notes into one notebook or scrapbook. She'll enjoy reading the letters and notes from all her friends and family. Be sure to have everyone keep this a secret - it will add to the giving.

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March 31, 20070 found this helpful

An alternative punch bowl sort of depends on how formal your party for your Mom will be. Put out the word among friends that you'd like to borrow a punch bowl, to begin with!
However, even something like a large aluminum mixing bowl will do in a pinch, as will a large (preferably glass) water pitcher (which you'll have to repeated refill).
Wish your Mom a happy 80th...I'm 80 too!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
March 31, 20070 found this helpful

Ah the options... One idea might be if you have one of those large glazed terra cotta flower pots. As long as it's galzed it should be fine to use a a pretty spring punch bowel. Just tie some pretty ribbons around the rim and pop in a spring colored plastic laddle OR your cooking laddle will do also. Then just float some pretty little floweers or colored ice cubes on top of the punch.

Another idea... Cookie Jars.. yup gather up any spring or cute theme cookie jars, ask your friends to do the same. Get pretty plastic colored laddles from your local party supply store and use those. Place all your filled cookie jars in the center of a decorated table. It will make an unsual centerpiece and a great conversation piece as well.

Last idea is to take your largest cooking pot, cover the outside with pretty spring like wrapping paper, then cover the wrapping paper with saran wrap to protect the paper. Then use y our own cooking ladle or one of those plastic ones from a party supply outlet store. Hope one of those ideas help to inspire you. Have a happy party!!

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By glinda (Guest Post)
March 31, 20070 found this helpful

We have a local party store, that "rents" out fancy punch bowls very affordably. I was surprised at their prices, and how nice the punch bowls were. Our store even carries different sizes, and colors. I found other things they rent out too, like candlebras, and all sorts of party theme things...check it out, we loved it....

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March 31, 20070 found this helpful

You can buy inexpensive ones at Smart & Final - &/or you could borrow one from your church or that of a friend - they always have punch bowls!!!

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March 31, 20070 found this helpful

You could use a new, clean galvanized the old time water buckets with the metal ladle we used to drink out of. That would fit into an old-time picnic theme. You could have checkered table clothes and fried chicken, potato salad, watermelon, etc. Good luck.

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By Melissa Bartlow (Guest Post)
May 9, 20070 found this helpful

If you are a Longaberger Basket collector you could use a large basket--also you could give a basket and have anyone attending sign the basket for her. YOu could write on the bottom the date and the event. It's also recommended for bridal showers or weddings. If you need me to help you find a consultant let me know.

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By BrianaL. (Guest Post)
May 12, 20070 found this helpful

You know you can just have a jug of the punch and if anyone wants some, they'll pour themselves some in a cup or class! Your welcome! :-)

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By Laura (Guest Post)
October 2, 20070 found this helpful

Using something theme related is always fun. For a baby shower for instance, we used the baby bath as the punch bowl with floating ducks (the kind that light up are even better).

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By cathy (Guest Post)
May 11, 20080 found this helpful

You can get one at party city for $9.99 or you can check out your thrift store, garage sales, or better yet. at the rental wedding stores you can rent one. They normally have all different sizes. Good luck and GOD BLESS.

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