Serving food on a tray is a nice way to show love and caring when a family member is sick. A hundred-year-old home economics textbook had the following advice:
There is one thing that you can do and no doubt will enjoy doing, – preparing an attractive tray to carry to a person who is not well enough to come to the table. Of course, if the person is very ill, the doctor must tell you what to prepare, but there are many times when a person who does not “feel like eating” will be tempted to eat if some easily digested food, daintily prepared, is served.
The tray should be made attractive with a clean cloth or doilies, and dishes that look well together. Nicked or cracked dishes should not be used if there are others to be had. Try to think of all of the utensils that are needed to eat what is served so that the person will not have to ask for anything. Butter, sugar, and salt should not be forgotten if they are to be used, and a glass of cold water is nearly always desired. On the other hand, do not carry any unnecessary things. Try to keep hot food hot by having dishes warmed and the food covered. It is just as important to serve cold food cold. Be careful not to spill anything.
Household Arts for Home and School (Vol. 2) (1920) by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr