Some people love it and some people dread it: the potluck. You have to bring a dish, but what? And how much? Maybe just buy a bag of chips and a container of dip and call it done?
Not so fast! You got this. The ever popular fruit tray is a great option for potlucks and parties, because you control how much goes into it and it can be tailored to the party’s theme. It does take a careful budget and preparatory work, but it can be very satisfying when done right.
This article covers a Spring fruit tray for a children’s Easter party, which you can tell with the kid-friendly fruits. Feel free to do more or less, embellishing wherever you want! We’ll walk through each step and you’ll see soon enough how easy it is.
Step 1: Gather your containers / serving dishes. If you’re holding the party at your house or going to a friend’s house, you can use a nicer dish that you are guaranteed to get back. Going somewhere and you aren’t sure you’ll see the dish again? Try disposable aluminum cake trays, which can be bought at most large grocery stores. These were a two-pack with clear plastic lids that only cost a couple of bucks. Totally worth it.
Step 2: Consider layering your food. I was worried that the fruit juices would collect at the bottom of the pan and make a soupy mess. In gardening, you put rocks at the bottom of a pot to help drainage, and I thought, “Hey, why not do that here?” I can’t use rocks – ha, the kids would have loved that – so I considered veggies. If the kids ate them, great, and if not, they would still be firm enough to hold the fruit up, keeping it from sitting at the bottom. I considered carrots but felt the orange color wouldn’t make much sense with the Spring / Easter theme. Instead I bought a large bag of sugar snap peas, which looked like a field of grass. And crunchy, too!
Step 3: Try fun shapes with mini cookie cutters! I am not artistic; you won’t find me carving fruit or any food into fantastical shapes. If I free-hand cut, it looks like lumps. Not appetizing. So, I use mini cookie cutters that I got off of Amazon to cut the fruit into little shapes like flowers, hearts, butterflies, and bells. There are two tricks I have found to best make this work:
- Use metal cutters. While they can bend if you push too hard, they do seem to be sharper then plastic cutters. This means they cut through the fruit better.
- Pick your fruit carefully. Seasonal fruit tends to be the cheapest, and I like to get fruit in a variety of colors because, HEY, pretty. For my fruit I had watermelon, cantaloupe, apple, and strawberries. What I learned was:
- The strawberries were too small to cut, so I sliced them instead. ‘S okay. Everyone loves strawberries. Unless you’re allergic. Then no strawberries for you.
- The apple (Red Delicious) got a little mushy and were prone to falling apart. Another variety of apple might have been firmer and held together better.
- The cantaloupe was firm but had limited surface area for cutting.
- The best was the watermelon: firm and lots of surface area, which led to a large yield of cut shapes.
- Cut your fruit into slices like sliced bread. This gives you more surface area with which to work.
- Plan your cutting like a puzzle. The more shapes you can squeeze out of a fruit slice, the more value you get out of your fruit.
Step 4: Arrange your fruit in the tray. If you aren’t artistic and don’t have a planned design, try grouping your fruit by color and then lining them in order of the color wheel. People like rainbows because they are pleasing to the eye. Here I had a stripe of red, orange, and yellow. (Yellow because I forgot that apple needs lemon juice to keep it from changing color from white to yellow, haha, oops.)
Step 5: Fill in the holes and put a lid on it. I used the sliced strawberries to make a border around the fruit in the tray, like a delicious picture frame. Then I put on the lids and stored them in the refrigerator over night. Gotta keep the fruit chilled!
The trays were pretty and perfect for a rowdy group of children! When you’re making fruit trays for adults, you can add toothpicks or fruit skewers to make it easier to serve. You can also branch out into more exotic fruits – and veggies! – because adults are more likely to try something they don’t recognize than children are.
And because they are just too adorable, here are awesome examples of veggie and fruit trays decorated like Christmas trees that my friend Rosie made (I especially like the curls of bell pepper as garland):