How to Carry Waitress Trays

Written by pilar ethridge
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How to Carry Waitress Trays
Waitresses carry trays with a steady hand. (waitress 2 image by Andrey Kiselev from

Waitresses are required to perform several duties at once. These include taking customers' orders, communicating with chefs, keeping tabs on who ordered what and delivering food on trays with a smile. Although it might seem like second nature for some waitresses to carry a loaded tray, this feat actually requires both training and planning. You need practice and some special skills to to carry a tray like an experienced waitress. You'll avoid the embarrassment and cleanup of a major spill.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 30-inch round tray

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  1. 1

    Glance over the floor or path through which you will move while carrying the tray. Make sure that the flooring is stable and that there is nothing lying in the floor that you could trip on.

  2. 2

    Load your tray by placing the heaviest items toward the centre and the lightest ones around the perimeter. If you are carrying both food and drink on one tray, place liquids toward the centre. Before you even lift it, check that nothing is hanging over the edge.

  3. 3

    Lift the tray by placing the flat palm of your hand underneath the tray. Rely on the hand that you are most comfortable using and remember to use the palm rather than the fingers. Before you make the trip, immediately gauge whether or not you are carrying too much weight. Better to make two trips to a table than to risk a spill due to a heavy load.

  4. 4

    Carry the tray at waist height by keeping your upper arm close to the body and locking your elbow so as to keep the tray steady. Extend your free hand to hold the edge of the tray for more stability. This free hand is especially helpful when walking through crowded areas or taking stairs.

Tips and warnings

  • Practice carrying different sized trays in order to become more comfortable with carrying loads of food or beverages. Cocktails are generally served on 15-inch trays while meals are served on the larger, 27 or 30 inch sort.

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