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How to Choose and Use TV Trays

Updated on September 28, 2011

TV Trays For More Than Watching TV

While they may not be as elegant as a fine hardwood dining table, TV trays offer more versatility.They offer the perfect spot to host a snack or a meal while enjoying time in front of the TV. They reduce the number of spills and let you relax without having to balance everything in your lap.

For kids, they can be the perfect spot for drawing, coloring, and so forth without being exiled to a kitchen table or desk. They can be used to hold all manner of things during quiet time on the sofa. TV trays can keep just about anything right where you need it, close at hand; from sewing kits and manicure tools to books, notepads, laptops, the TV remote, and so on.

They also store conveniently; tucking away out of sight when not in use but always available when you need them.

Caring for TV Trays

Some TV trays will be metal, others will be constructed of real wood or MDF. In almost any instance, you merely need to wipe them off with a damp cloth after use, just as you would a countertop. Only mild soaps should be used. They should be dried thoroughly before storing them.

Although they provide a good base of support, it is best to move TV trays out of the path of traffic in a room. They generally come with a stand that allows you to fold them up compactly for storage. Always read the manufacturer's instruction for proper care.

Tips on Choosing the Right Trays

Buying TV trays is a fairly simple task. Finding one that will hold what you want it to hold, one which provides a solid surface where it's comfortable to use, and which is quick and easy to set up but stores out of the way are the major considerations. But of course, finding one that suits your style matters too!

You will want to be sure the tray stands tall enough to be convenient to reach while you are seated. A height of 25" to 30" is common but check the seat height of your chairs and sofa before choosing. There are some TV trays that offer adjustable height.

You also want to consider the tray size itself. Smaller trays (16" x 16" or so) may be fine for snacking on popcorn and holding a drink, but if you want it to hold a full size plate, you may want something a bit larger (15" x 20" or larger).

Consider the decor of your room before selecting your TV trays. They are available in many different finishes; natural wood finishes such as oak, beech, and walnut, as well as painted finishes, and those with decoupage designs to accent your decor.

Storage and Set Up
The majority of TV trays fold up and can slide in beside a chair, behind the sofa, along the wall, or perhaps slid into a closet when not in use. If you're buying a set of 4, they often come with a stand where they can be kept together and protected from accidental damage. Other models however are designed with a base that slides up under the sofa. They don't fold up, but by sliding in close to the sofa, they are out of the traffic path and won't be a nuisance when not in use.


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    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I couldn't live without my TV trays. I use them for everything.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 6 years ago

      I agree completely KenWu...using them for coloring, drawing, etc. is a much better idea.

    • Seakay profile image

      Seakay 6 years ago from Florida

      I guess I am more klutzy than most. Of course, put 2 grandchilren into the mix and that's a recipe for disaster! LOL

    • KenWu profile image

      KenWu 6 years ago from Malaysia

      While a tv tray is convenient but staring at the tv when eating is no good :)

    • SusanVillasLewis profile image

      SusanVillasLewis 6 years ago from Texas

      I have a lovely, custom-made dining room table. And we use our TV trays every night. Since there's just two of us, it's always made more sense than sitting at the table. (Of course, that also means we've had the odd glass of wine and bowl of pasta upended in the worst places. Move a foldable tray with caution if you have food on it!)

    • JimmieWriter profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 6 years ago from Memphis, TN USA

      We have a set that we rarely use for eating. I prefer a sit down meal with the TV off. But as you say, TV trays are great for other uses too!