Creating a beautiful candy buffet is easy for Lauren Bialek-Sachs, owner of Sweet City Candy. She and her team have helped hundreds of party planners and brides create extraordinary weddings and events. Lucky for me, Lauren agreed to guest post today and share her trade secrets for creating a killer spread. Thank you Lauren for all of your invaluable party tips below!
Candy buffets are among the most popular features for events, and there are four big reasons why:
- They are eye-catching
- They are economical
- They can be created to coordinate with any theme or color scheme
- They are easy to do yourself
If that last point had you raise your eyebrow in disbelief, I’m here to tell you it’s true. You don’t need to be a professional party planner or dessert bar designer to create a killer candy buffet. This post is going to show you exactly how to do it, including how much candy you should buy, how to build the display in a logical way, and how to solve tricky issues like what to do if your containers are too large for the amount of candy you bought.
How Many People Are Coming?
So, where do you start? Let’s begin with the most common question: How many people are coming to your event? Answering this question is key to figuring our how much candy to buy. The event industry standard is approximately ½ pound (or 8 ounces) per person. For example, if you are having 25 people at a birthday party, you will need approximately 12.5 pounds of candy. Some people may take more than their allotment and others less, but this industry standard is a good benchmark of knowing the least amount of candy to buy in order to keep your jars filled and everyone fed.
This sounds simple, but candy comes in all different shapes, sizes, and weights. A half-pound of M&Ms only measures to around 1 cup. This is a lot for me to eat by myself, alone in my kitchen, but it doesn’t add up to looking like a lot in a glass jar on a candy buffet table. When selecting candy, size and weight needs to be kept in the forefront of your mind, especially since a lot of the smaller candies tend to be denser and weight more. We’ll come back to this later on how to select a variety of candy to create a very eye-pleasing palette. But first we need to talk about theme.
What’s Your Theme?
The theme of your party, whether it’s very specific like “Ever After High” or more general like “Rainbow,” should be reflected in the colors of candy that you have on display. Most party color palettes have two to five colors (five on the high side). Thankfully candy manufactures have figured out that it really stinks to have to sift through a 10-pound bag of gumballs just to pick out all the reds, whites, and blues, and they now sell many candies in individual colors. This makes it super easy for you to buy candy in only the colors that you want.
A 2 or 3 color palette is the norm, but which colors to put together is really up to you and your theme. For example, a wedding buffet could have lots of white candy with a pop of whatever accent color the bride selects. A Mickey Mouse-themed birthday party should have red, black and white. A Frozen-themed party will have candy in shades of blue and white.
By the way, it’s perfectly acceptable to have various shades of one color as part of your buffet, and it actually adds to the visual appeal of the display. It’s virtually impossible to guarantee that colors will match exactly across types of candy, especially if they’re coming from different manufacturers. The key is that there is a cohesive element to the candy, so it doesn’t look totally random.
Sweet City Candy Secret: If you find yourself getting carried away with adding more and more colors to your buffet, one way to keep it all cohesive is to at least stick with either all primary colors, or all pastels, or colors-of-the-rainbow, so there is some kind of common thread throughout the candy.
What kind of candy should you include? Here is where we talk about variety. Your candy buffet should not only have a variety of sizes, but also a variety of types. At least four different types of candy are standard (even if your buffet is for a small group) because you want to be sure to have something for everyone. Chocolate, rock candy, gummies, gumballs, lollipops – all can be purchased to match a color scheme.
Another important element to selecting candy is to include some that is wrapped and unwrapped. This will make it easy for people to take home. Nothing is worse than packing a goody bag full of loose gummy bears and mini chocolate-covered pretzels that get smooshed by the time they get home.
If you find that you’ve purchase too much unwrapped candy, an easy fix is to buy some cellophane bags and create little pre-packed servings for people to grab.
Sweet City Candy Secret: What happens if you buy candy that ends up not matching your theme, but you don’t want it to go to waste? Find small gift boxes or opaque bags that do match your theme and package the candy in them. Problem solved!
Putting Your Buffet Together
Now for the fun part! How do you make it look professional?
First things first. To display your color-coordinated candy, glass containers (or clear plastic) of varying sizes are the most common way to go. Cylinder glasses, apothecary jars, fish bowls, vases can all be used. Make sure each jar has a scoop, spoon or tongs, too.
The trick to making sure your buffet has order and logic is to have different tiers. Place highest jars in the back, mid-sized jars in the middle, and small containers or serving dishes in the front.
One thing that works well is to use one type of candy as the base for another type of candy. For example, fill the bottom half of a jar with Sixlets, then place rock candy face down on top. Or use M&M’s or Milkies as a layer underneath sugar cookies or chocolate covered pretzels. The layering gives any extra candy a purpose and really adds an eye-catching element.
Certain candies, such as jelly beans, Sixlets, gumballs, and other small, colorful candies, look stunning in tall glass jars. Other candies, like rock candy, chocolate-covered pretzels, and candy bars, are ideal for displaying on serving trays at the front of a dessert table.
Sweet City Candy Secret: Uh-oh. Your containers are too large for the amount of candy you bought. What do you do? Here’s a simple solution: Find a cup or jar to place upside down (so it can’t be filled in) within your serving container. Fill your container with candy around the interior jar. Your container will look “completely” full.
Now that you have your head count, theme, candy, and display plan figured out, here are some tips for finishing touches.
- Use a coordinating tablecloth and backdrop for the candy display. This will help bring it all together and make your table a focal point for the party’s décor.
- Add non-edible elements to your display to reinforce your theme. If your candy table is for an Ever After High birthday party, include character dolls and other show elements.
- Apply coordinating printables. Circle tags, name placards, bunting, etc., can really take your buffet over the precipice from DIY to professional.
Follow these simple rules, and you create a stunning and memorable dessert table for your next event.