Monday, September 13, 2010

Candy Buffets 101- A Tutorial

A trend that continues to gain momentum in weddings and events is candy buffets (or dessert bars). They are absolutely irresistible so their popularity makes sense.

Forget the punch bowl!

Now we can transform our kitchen tables into beautiful works of art. High bars, round corner breakfast nooks, or long dining room tables all will work when creating the new dessert buffets.

I can spend many minutes staring at inspirational's SO invigorating! All respect and recognition goes to Amy Atlas for her signature style on this trend. Enjoy some Amy Atlas "eye candy", it's complete perfection!

(All photos above courtesy of

I have a few tips to blow over like kisses to you. These tips are specifically for the candy buffets, not dessert bars. This table in the example was from the Secret Agent Spy party I did last year.

My ideas are simply a PLACE TO START and can't even touch Amy Atlas {wink}. But these ideas keep it manageable for the NORMAL GIRL.

To begin...
-Start with a simple tablecloth that won't detract from your buffet. Avoid super busy prints on your tablecloths.

- However, DO use a tablecloth unless you have a special table that corresponds with your theme!! A big mistake people make is forgetting this small but necessary step. Your eyes will be drawn to the table more if it is covered. Plus, it creates a clean canvas to design your masterpiece.

- Next, you will want to add various levels and heights to your table
to avoid the look of a church potluck with dishes all in a row. To do this add different sized shoe boxes or wire racks UNDER your tablecloth. Don't over do it though. You can also place pretty boxes etc OVER the tablecloth to add height for a different effect.

This rack adds height to the table.

- Next you will want to gather a VARIETY of containers to hold your candy. Your choices here are crucial to success of visual appeal! In general, clear containers work best. With some decor themes, other containers like buckets or baskets fit the theme more appropriately. Choose different sizes and shapes for a fun, easy look. Or for more symmetry and evenness, stick to the same shapes.

In this example, I did the variety of shapes and sizes.

- Pull out your creativity when arranging the containers on your table. Use YOUR eye and YOUR style, just be sure your table stays balanced.

- The candy selection is a super fun part. My boys were stunned when they saw the bags of candy I hauled home. When selecting candy, choose candy with visual appeal. Avoid commercially wrapped candy. Keep your theme in mind while making your selection.
Are you working on a vibrant, colorful table or are you working toward an elegant effect with only one or two colors? Both choices offer amazing tables! But it's important to keep that in mind when candy shopping. Also, M&Ms can be purchased in almost any color in the rainbow!

The only negative aspect of doing a candy buffet is the price tag.

- Custom labels over candy bars offer a detail on your table that will look stunning!

- Another detail that makes a statement is lollipop presentation. I bought a block of Styrofoam and wrapped it with candy dots to hide the foam. Then I stuck the lollipops in them.

- FILLER candy is fun to work with too! The lollipops were standing JUST RIGHT in the foam, however, the foam was still visible. I poured candy around the base to cover all the foam.

- When filling your containers, I have a BIG, HUGE money-saving tip! Once you empty a family size bag of
M & Ms into a jar, you'll realize the candy doesn't go very far. Instead of buying more candy to fill the jar, turn empty cups upside down on the bottom of the jar then pour the candy in. It will absorb some of the space and save you a lot of cash.

- The buffet should be almost complete! The exciting part is accessorizing your table! You can add labels to the jars to embellish it and draw out your theme. I didn't add labels in this example. You can also add ribbon to some of the jars to carry unity throughout the table. You don't want your table to look mis-matched. Some ribbon I simply knotted, some I wrapped like a ring, and some I tied like a bow.

- Adding
candy scoops to your table is a charming touch! Don't forget to find goodie bags for your guests to take their treats home in. Custom stickers can be added to the bags.

- Almost done! To complete your candy buffet, add a background banner and balloons/flowers depending on your theme. I put this banner over the table instead of behind. I also added two balloon bouquets on either side of the table.

Finally, the most important tips are...

- Pay attention to the DETAILS!
The details WILL certainly make a difference.

- Keep your theme in mind the entire time.
Add or embellish your theme with everything,
don't subtract or stray from your theme.

- Be creative! These are simply my own ideas
and you may have something that works better for you.
You don't need to follow directions when creating!
Be unique and artistic.

For more fun ideas
you can see different sweet buffets
I've experimented with:
- colorful candy buffet
- cozy hot chocolate bar
- retro ice cream sundae buffet
- s'more campout buffet

There are SO many more ideas to share on this subject, but this is a great place to start for basic ideas.
If you have helpful tips to add, please share. I double love learning new ideas.

The fine print goodies:
The new FTC government laws require me to share that this post is a sponsored post that I am being compensated for. Fun stuff!

This post is linked to: Making the World Cuter, Motivate Me Mondays, Market Yourself Mondays, It's So Very Creative, Tip Me Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Topsy Turvy Tuesday, Tuesdays Unwrapped, Toot Your Horn Tuesday, Get Your Craft On, We're Organized Wednesday, Outdoor Wednesday, Works for Me Wednesday, Show and Tell, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Spotlight Yourself, Show off Your Stuff, Strut Your Stuff, Friday Favorites, Show and Share Day, Foodie Friday, I'm Lovin It, Funky Junk Interiors, Tickled Pink, Inspired By, Weekend Wrap Up


Red Couch Recipes said...

What a fun post and I love the suckers in the styrofoam. I have never done a candy bar, but I am thinking of doing one for my daughter's 10th birthday. If my husband and kids would leave it alone, I would love to have a candy bar set up all the time. I just love the happy look of candy in glass jars. Joni

Jane said...

You have some wonderful ideas here...
I especially love where you added the cup to the M&M jar to enhance the appearance of lots of candy. Great idea!
Whenever we entertain, we have a coffee bar...carafes of decaf, regular and flavored coffees from which to choose, add-ins of shaved chocolate, whipped cream, cinnamon sticks, peppermint sticks, syrups, etc. (depends on the dinner theme, the holiday, etc.) It's always a big hit with our guests.
Jane (artfully graced)

Jenny said...

You are crazy good at this! Do people know you hire out your design services?

AND I'm planning a s'more bar here as soon as the weather breaks!

Jenny said...

You are crazy good at this! Do people know you hire out your design services?

AND I'm planning a s'more bar here as soon as the weather breaks!

Tommie Jo said...

I remember doing an ice cream sundae bar for my youngest son's birthday back in the late 80's & it was a hit! I guess I was way before my time...I did get a few weird comments about it but it didn't stop 'em from building a big ol' sundae! Great tips thanks!

Ronda Batchelor said...

Nice ideas. your tables always look so good.

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

My girls had one at my baby shower! It was so much fun!

Leah said...

Brings to mind Willy Wonka! Yummy and Beautiful :)

Emily said...

Yum, I want to make a candy bar right now. Who needs an occasion?

Kyra @ RACKS and Mooby said...

Yum!! That looks great!! But could be dangerous for my waistline... :) said...

I did a modified version of a candy buffet last year at my son's birthday. I'm really pleased to see that you offered cost-reducing ways to enhance yours...because although these ideas are always so gorgeous to gush over, let's face it - it gets COSTLY! Especially for those that have more than one child (lucky for me I just have the one).

You did a great job! I love how you kept everything colorful and simple.


Unknown said...

Looks like fun!
Coming from It's so very Cheri.

Leanne said...

Hey Lisa, you always have the most amazing ideas and everything always looks so beautiful. Just keep them coming and I'll keep copying. HaHa, but really!

elizabeth @ twelvecrafts said...

You had me at candy! ;) Coming from Cheri's blog.

Anonymous said...

What a fun table!!! I would sure to gain 10 lbs being at this table!!

bee blessed

DeeAnna said...

GREAT tip about using the bowl to take up space! I spent a bajillion dollars on my buffet last Hanukkah! This time I will use your little secret. Thanks!

mama hall said...

Beautiful and so creative! Bookmarking for my daughters upcoming birthday! I love your photos...I will share mine when I make my own :) thank you

Beth said...

Great tips Lisa! I adore candy tables and look forward to attending a party that actually has one for me to partake in :).

Bitterroot Mama said...

I love these ideas! Thanks for the great tips and giving me a chocolate craving!

Tammy @ said...

Great tips! Now I want some candy...Thanks for the inspiration!

Best wishes,

Jami said...

Yummers! Your tips are right on the money!

jamie said...

so lovely! visiting from

Love this! I would eat ALL of the candy if this was in my house!

Michelle said...

I have seen this done before, mostly at weddings but I love your step by step tips.

I might try this on a small scale for my 9 years old's upcoming birthday party. I bet her friends would love this (and her too).

Unknown said...

I love this! Now I need to think of a reason to have a party so I can try it.

Angie - Big Bears Wife said...

everything looks amazing!!!!1

Polly said...

I had one of these at my wedding reception a year ago. People are still talking about it.

Sandy Ang said...

What a great idea for someone with a sweet tooth - like me !

Julie said...

What a great post! I think I will do this at my next party. Maybe a combination of desserts and candy.

Ranelle said...

Again . . . great inspiration and ideas. Thanks for the money-saving tip on adding an upside down cup to take up some of the space. I attended a Women's Get-together at a church one year and they did something like this. It is ALL about the details. One quick idea is to use varying heights of book stacks under the tablecloths if you don't have racks or boxes.

Holly Lefevre said...

Great tutorial. Candy buffets re fabulous. My kids love when I make these...I have photos, but never blogged about them. I learned some tricks from you though!

Jerri at Simply Sweet Home said...

Great tips! And the tables are so cute! Thanks for linking up for Friday Favorites!

Kelly Miller said...

These are beautiful. I love monochromatic candy bars, as well.

Diane Schmidt said...

CUTE! Great table full of yummy treats.

bj said...

Great idea full of yummyness..:)

StepherB said...

Love those ideas! Can't wait to try them out - I wanna throw a party now! :)

Ashlee Marie said...

What great suggestions. I've done a candy bar a few times for my kids birthday's. Fun fun! Everyone loves it!

Ashlee Marie said...

Oh, and thanks for linking up to Topsy Turvy Tuesday's!

Unknown said...

I have a terrible sweet tooth plus my daughters' birthday is coming up (I have twin girls), so I am loving this idea!!! I came over from Holly's place (504 Main) and am so glad I did!

p.s. I'm your newest follower!

erin @ the mother load

Lina Thomlinson said...

I love this idea! Great job and it looks like a great party!

Amy @ Chicy-Creations said...

How fuN! I'm doing a Candly Land themed party for my daughter's 3rd birthday and I'm sure I'll be referring back to this!

Handy Man, Crafty Woman said...

wow, what a cute idea! I love this!