Introduction: Rustic Halloween Food Display!

About: I am an artist, builder and teacher living in Japan.

My lovely wife Mariko and I throw an epic Halloween food party every year. I take care of the decor and Mariko takes care of the cooking and food display. This instructuctable is all about Mariko's display!

Why take all that time to create a food display?

Food presentation y'all! Food presentation is just as important to the success of a dish as its taste. The way the food looks is what tempts our eyes and makes you want to taste it. No matter how delicious the food is, it's the display that temps us to eat it. The display can also make not-so delicious food taste better.

Mariko's display is for a teenager and older party. It's very important to adapt your plate presentation to the occasion. If you are preparing a kids party (12 years old and younger), choose fun food presentations that will make them want to eat. Kid's like 'yummy' food like pizza, hotdogs and sweets. They don't have the palates for slight nuances so don't over do it. They prefer “fun” designs rather than serious and traditional presentations.

Step 1: The Table

The first step is deciding the style. Mariko went rustic and rustic is a design emphasis on rugged, natural beauty that embraces nature-inspired textures.

The food display is going in my workshop on my workshop tables. I stained these tables with kakishibu.

Kakishibu is made by fermenting the juice extracted from unripe sour persimmons. It is brown in color and has a unique smell. Since ancient times, kakishibu has been used to dye wood, fabrics, and paper and as strengthening, antiseptic, and waterproof agents. I love this stuff and highly recommend it. We live in Japan and use a local brand and this brand is sold on amazon!

The wooden fences were bought from The Daiso Japan. You can order similar ones online at:

You can also use mini pallets from The Dollar Tree.

Step 2: The Boxes and Steps

I built two boxes for Mariko and stained them in teak. Building boxes is super easy! I used regular plywood and just screwed all the pieces together from the sides. The dollar store sells small wooden boxes too! Just stain them and turn them upside down.

We already had that large box in storage and it was just the right color. You can also use crates and pallets as stands for the food.

Mariko wanted some steps for the back of the display too and those are just three pieces of plywood! I painted them red and then darkened them with a watered down black paint to match the dish that'll sit on them.

Step 3: Easy Stand

This is just a piece of plywood screwed to the bottom of a dollar store box. I know I'm mentioning The Dollar Store a lot, but that place carries all kinds of cool stuff! I stained this in teak to match the boxes.

Step 4: The Dishes

These are the dishes that were used.

These were all bought in Japan. Below are links to similar items.

-The three red and two wine red baking dishes are from Costco Japan.

-Glass bowl and cake stand are from Ikea Japan.

-The two white flower vases are from The Daiso Japan.

These were used to display the meat and cheeses.

-The cutting board and black plate are from Ikea Japan.

-The two white sauce dishes are from Cainz Japan.

-The serving tray was a gift.

-The wooden square is from The Daiso Japan.

Step 5: The Plastic Containers

Mariko uses reusable(PP: Polypropylene-Plastic # 5) containers to display food.

I can hear the screams now..."PLASTIC!!!" We like these containers, because they are reusable and easy to clean and store away.

Polypropylene (PP) is a thermoplastic polymer. It is strong, tough, has a high resistance to heat and acts as a barrier to moisture. It's the same stuff used to make lunchboxes. If you decide on plastic, make sure that it's a food safe plastic. We often throw food parties and these are perfect!

The safest plastics for food are numbers 2, 4 and 5. That's HDPE, LDPE and PP.

Here's some more info on what we used:

Plastic 5: Polypropelene (PP) Polypropelene containers do not leach harmful chemicals into foods or liquids and are not associated with any known health issues. Typically, this plastic is transluscent or opaque in color and has a high melting point, which typically makes these containers microwave or dishwasher safe, according to Chemical Safety Facts. Type 5 plastic is used to make yogurt containers, cream cheese containers, maple syrup bottles or prescription bottles. The containers we use are microwavable and dishwasher safe, but we don't microwave them or put them in the dishwater. We don't cook food in them either.

These were tricky to find and we didn't order them all at once. We also live in Japan and ordered in country. Search 'PP plastic deli containers.'

For the containers, check out
You're looking at 25-50 containers for about $5. Search with keywords like:





Step 6: The Food!

The beautiful food! Notice the Halloween color theme too. Another important rule of food presentation is balancing variety, contrast and color.

You should be familiar with most of these dishes. Some of the ingredients we have in Japan aren't easily found in other places. These are links to the best versions of the dishes Mariko prepared.


This is an omelette made with fried rice and thin, fried scrambled eggs, usually topped with ketchup.

Mikan Jelly!

Rare cheesecake!

Kabocha salad!

Step 7: Candy Hutch

I'll leave you with The candy hutch!

Partygoers play games to win tickets to collect candy! The candy hutch is a big hit, so we make it every year.

Halloween Contest 2019

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2019