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Candy buffets and dessert tables make a delightful addition to wedding receptions, engagement parties and bridal showers. If executed well, they become a memorable design element, make convenient take-home wedding favors and add a sense of fun and entertainment to your day.
Candy buffets bring out the kid in all of us! Unfortunately, this extra design element can be costly depending on the number of guests you expect and the buffet decorations and types of treats or desserts you choose so they are better suited to weddings of less than 200 guests.
While many professional companies will charge you to set up and manage your candy buffet for larger events, this article focuses on the do-it-yourself (DIY) aspects of creating your own candy buffet on a budget.
HOW TO DESIGN YOUR CANDY BUFFET OR DESSERT TABLE
So what exactly makes a candy buffet professional looking? The visual impact of every candy buffet is achieved in the varied heights of the containers, the types of props and containers used and the overall color scheme of the buffet, but more on this later.
Backdrops add tons of visual appeal and do not have to cost a lot. Consider paper garlands, ribbons, bunting, fabric, balloons, artwork, paper pinwheels, photographs, etc. Table options can vary widely from your basic folding table to an interesting piece of antique furniture. Whatever you choose for your "table" be sure that it is sturdy.
Candy and glass are heavy! If you would not be comfortable sitting on said table, please don't use it. Pedestal tables should be avoided as they tend to tip over if weight distribution is too uneven or someone leans too hard on them... uh, oh. Remember that people generally fill the container they are given so use small containers or bags to keep your candy costs down.
Consider the following take-home container options and be sure to leave some room on your buffet table for them:
- Cellophane bags
- Organza favor bags
- Chinese takeout boxes (miniature)
- Small gift boxes
- Burlap or linen favor bags
- Decorative flat paper bags (approx. 4"x6")
The types of candy and desserts you choose help you determine the serving items you need such as scoops, tongs, decorative picks, etc. Here are some handy ones we offer in our shop:
ADDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
Personalizing your candy buffet with your names & wedding date, personal notes, wedding motif or other theme elements makes it memorable and unique. Here are some relatively inexpensive and pretty ways to do just that!
- Use coordinating ribbon or lace around the containers that match your wedding colors.
- Place a framed photograph of the two of you somewhere on the table.
- Use printed and framed signs: "Love is Sweet", or "Enjoy a Sweet Treat", etc.
- Use smaller decorative items that match your theme (e.g. Starfish for a beach wedding or glittered snowflakes for a winter affair).
- Incorporate at least one larger prop that draws the eye such as a large floral arrangement or theme-related prop. Note: Use your cake or cupcake tower if you want them on the same table.
- Hang personalized bunting with your names & wedding date or a cute phrase either on the front of the table or on the backdrop area.
- Use your own artwork or a favorite painting as your buffet backdrop.
- Print or purchase personalized wrappers for candy bars (large or miniatures).
BUDGET FRIENDLY DECORATING TIPS & DESIGN ELEMENTS
Decorating your candy buffet or dessert table does not have to break the bank! Not sure how much to spend? Use our free wedding budget calculator to find out. Once you've chosen your wedding day colors and theme you can start gathering items for your buffet.
We've gathered some budget-friendly ideas below to get you started.
- Drape your buffet table in fabric to add color, texture and elegance. Source material from a fabric store or borrow a beautiful table cloth from a friend. Try to match the fabric to your wedding colors or theme.
- Adding a pretty table runner adds dimension to the design.
- Use risers - Risers raise up small containers and allow access to containers in the back or middle of the table. They help give the entire buffet more visual appeal. Risers can be stacked books, boxes or blocks of wood placed under the table cover. You can also wrap them in pretty paper.
- Hanging decorations - To add height and drama, consider low cost paper decorations like lanterns, pinwheels, streamers, bunting, etc.
- Borrow decorative items - Tip: take a photo of what you borrow from each person so you can remember what to give back to whom!
- Thrifting - Scour local yard sales, Craigslist, Ebay, second-hand stores, etc. for the items you need.
- Rent larger or more expensive prop pieces from a rental company.
- Raid your own home - Look in every room for beautiful containers that can hold or display treats. Clear bowls and wide-mouth vases work best but you can also use baskets, silver trays, cake platters, etc. A variety of sizes will make your display more visually appealing.
- Add battery operated/LED candles or lights to your display for visual impact. Avoid real candles as your guests will want to reach over them to get to the goods!
- Use mirrors under vases to essentially "double" your candy volume visually.
- Fill your larger containers with less expensive candy and smaller ones with the pricier treats.
Inexpensive petals and confetti, flower heads, feathers or doilies like those shown below, can fill the bare spaces between your candy bowls, add visual interest and color to your whole display and help you save on candy costs. Vases of flowers can also be used as table decorations.
HOW MUCH CANDY DO I NEED TO BUY FOR A CANDY BUFFET?
This is by far the most common question couples considering a candy buffet or dessert table ask us. Here are the primary things to consider:
- Number of adult wedding guests.
- Number of children (Count them as 1.5 guests. Kids usually take more!)
- Other desserts you plan to offer.
- The types of candy & desserts you want (5 to 10 different types is recommended.)
A general rule of thumb is offering about a half pound (8 ounces) of candy per guest. This estimate takes into account that some guests will take more or less than others. It breaks down like this:
- 30 guests = 15-lbs of candy
- 80 guests = 40-lbs candy
- 150 guests = 75-lbs candy
- 200 guests = 100-lbs candy
If you are offering other desserts like a wedding cake or cupcake tower, make these available to your guests before you open the candy buffet. You should consider the types of treats on your table too. One large sucker, cupcake or candy apple may be all someone wants to carry! Be sure to do a mock-up of your wedding candy buffet before your wedding to help determine if you need more or less candy or table decor, and if your risers are sturdy enough to hold your containers.
TYPES OF TREATS TO CONSIDER
Indoor buffet choices are seemingly endless these days so feel free to showcase anything you like! If your buffet is outside, however, it's wise to consider the weather and season in your selections. Nix the chocolate items, ice cream, chocolate fountains and frosted cupcakes for a warm summer wedding - basically anything that will not stand the heat or humidity and will attract bugs.
Wrapped or covered candies and desserts work best for most outdoor settings. Some treat tables include exclusively candy, desserts or a combination of both.
Items found in candy buffets may include:
Tutti Fruiti Candy Sticks
Boston Fruit Slices
Salt Water Taffy
Rock Candy Sticks
Fun dessert bar items may include:
Ice Cream w/Cones
BEST PLACES TO BUY CANDY IN BULK
- Candy Store
- Old Time Candy Company
- Oriental Trading
- Just Candy
- Bulk Foods
- Candy Favorites
- Candy Nation
DURING THE RECEPTION - SET UP & MANAGEMENT
Set up your buffet in a low traffic area near the wedding cake or bar where it can easily be easily seen and photographed. Arrange beforehand who will run your buffet. Choose a trusted person that can watch over the candy buffet and help children choose treats.
Also, this person should refill the containers when candies start looking a little low and clean up any spills or breakage. They will also pack up any extra candy and take down the buffet at the end of the evening.
Designating someone to run your buffet also tends to deter people from taking too much (a.k.a. pocket stuffing!). It's a good idea to store extra candy elsewhere or under the table until needed.