A folding eating tray is portable, versatile and easy to store when not in use. Originally designed for casual meals in front of the television, a folding tray is also indispensable for serving refreshments to guests. It can provide a place to put a laptop or a book. Folding eating trays are compact enough to use as end tables in tight spaces and sturdy enough to double as coffee tables. They are sleek and practical, according to Homedit.com.
Another advantage of folding eating trays is their decorative value. Many vintage or retro trays sport designs on the tray surfaces. Contemporary folding eating trays often feature unadorned wood or metal surfaces that coordinate with popular designer furnishings. Some have cup wells for safely stowing beverages, while others feature slots for phones and tablets. Many folding trays come in sets of four with a storage rack that fits into a relatively compact space.
The invention and popularity of the folding eating tray -- also called a TV tray -- followed the creation of the Swanson TV dinner in the mid-1950s, as reported by The National Museum of History. Designed for families who traded the dinner table for the TV room, most early trays were made of metal, fiberglass or wood. These materials were both inexpensive, making the trays affordable, and lightweight for portability.