A tray is a shallow platform designed for carrying things. It can be fashioned from numerous materials, including silver, brass, sheet iron, paperboard, wood, melamine, and molded pulp. Trays range in cost from inexpensive molded pulp trays which are disposable, to inexpensive melamine trays used in cafeterias, to mid-priced wooden trays used in a home, to expensive silver trays used in luxury hotels. Some examples have raised galleries, handles, and short feet for support.
Trays are flat, but with raised edges to stop things from sliding off them. They are made in a range of shapes but are commonly found in oval or rectangular forms, sometimes with cutout or attached handles with which to carry them.
- A butler's tray often has a gallery, or deeper surround, handles on the long sides to facilitate carrying (usually cut into the surround), and a portable stand with folding legs. It is used for the service of drinks and generally serves as a convenient side table.
- A cafeteria tray is used for carrying items in a cafeteria. It is typically made of plastic or fiberglass. A compartment tray or mess tray is a cafeteria tray designed to be used directly, without dishes - it incorporates shallow compartments in which different types of food are placed.
- A molded pulp tray is a disposable (or recyclable) tray provided by fast food restaurants, coffee shops and movie theaters. The tray is designed to hold four disposable cups.
- Surgical trays are used to carry surgical instruments, are rectangular and made of stainless steel to resist the heat of sterilization without corrosion.
- Seed trays are used for propagating vegetables and flowers and other plants from seed. They are also used for taking plant cuttings. The trays for seedling production are made of expanded polystyrene or polythene. They come in many sizes; the most common are the Danish and the European sized trays.
- A darkroom tray, also known as print developing tray, is used in photography.
- A dental impression tray is a receptacle or device that is used to carry impression material to the mouth, confine the material in apposition to the surfaces to be recorded, and control the impression material while it sets to form the impression.
- A baking tray is used to cook a variety of foods in an oven, including vegetables and meats such as whole chickens. It allows food to be very exposed to the hot air inside the oven whilst preventing any fats of liquids from falling onto the oven floor.
- Lazy Susan, a rotating tray, usually circular, placed on top of a table to aid in moving food on a large table or countertop.
- Phan (tray)
- Salver, a diminutive tray commonly used for lighter and smaller servings
- TV tray table