How to Plan a Candy Bar Buffet in 5 Simple Steps

There's no reason to pay someone to create a candy bar buffet for your wedding or party. You can tackle this project yourself or with a friend.

Before you stock up on treats for your candy bar buffet, you’ll need to come up with a plan. Having a strategy will save you time, money and frustration. Plus, with a clear plan, you can execute with precision (and way less stress)!

Not sold on candy? Check out these beautiful wedding dessert table ideas.

Step 1: Consider the Guest List

Start by asking yourself: What kind of party am I having? If you’re planning an adults-only event, feel free to display lots of beautiful glass vessels of all shapes and heights. However, if you’re hosting an event with kids, consider using clear plastic containers on a shorter table.

It helps to have a rough idea of what kind of candy is best for your candy bar, too. If guests are pretty young, look for candy that won’t pose much of a choking hazard. Have older guests coming? Opt for vintage or nostalgic candies, like these popular brands from childhood.

And, if you have attendees with dietary restrictions, make sure you clearly label all candy that contains common allergens, like nuts and dairy.

Step 2: Consider the Space

Before you go crazy stocking up on supplies, consider the space you have available and the size of your table. Will your guests be able to access the entire table on all sides, or will it be pushed against a wall? This will help determine how many containers you need.

Height is another thing to keep in mind. Varied heights will add impact to your presentation. Plan to have lower profile vessels in the front and/or around the sides. For the middle row of candies, you’ll want a bit more height; while in the center and/or back, you want the tallest containers.

When it comes to the actual vessels, glass jars are traditional. But add some character to your display with funky trays, old fishbowls, cake stands, vases or apothecary jars. Check out your local thrift store for some original options. (Psst! These are the items you should never pass up at Goodwill.)

Editor’s Tip: Bigger containers aren’t always better. They need to be filled with a ton of candy, which can prompt you to buy more than you need.

Step 3: Bring Your Table to Life

If your party has a theme, integrate some of those fun elements into your candy bar buffet. We recommend starting with colorful linens, then creating energy with festive space fillers like stuffed animals, jumbo-sized candies, flowers, balloons and clever signs. Look to keep the colors on the table to no more than four.

Work with the space you have around the table, too. If the table is pushed against a wall, make the most of it by hanging a backdrop, garland, balloons, ribbons, artwork or photos.

Finally, be sure the candy selection complements a well-defined theme. Is this a Mario Bros. party? Make sure you have little toadstools and princess candies. If it’s a wedding, offer champagne-flavored gummies, white rock candy or billowy handmade marshmallows. And if it’s a Christmas party, try one of these festive themes.

Step 4: Pick Your Candy

How much candy do you need for a candy buffet? Obviously, more people mean more candy is needed. Provide at least half a pound per attendee. (It’s much less than it sounds!)

Make sure you have variety, too. Plan on one type of candy for every dozen or so people. For example, 100 people would call for 8-10 types of candy. If you’re on a budget, consider including some bulk candy to save a bit on your investment. Just keep people’s preferences in mind. If you find an inexpensive candy that you wouldn’t eat, there’s a good chance no one else wants to eat it either.

You also don’t have to stick to only candy. Feel free to add cupcakes, brownies, cookies or other mini treats, too.

Step 5: Add the Finishing Touches

Do you have napkins for the event? Serving spoons? How about takeaway bags so guests can munch on their treats all night long? Keep these extras in mind when determining the final budget for your buffet.

And overall, have fun with it! With a little thought and planning, your candy bar buffet will be a huge hit. The sugar not only makes everyone happy, but it will fuel the party, as well.

Feeling Ambitious? Make Your Own Candy!
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Jennifer Schwarzkopf
Half Chilean, half Irish descent and all joie de vivre, I'm a food writer/photographer who loves to share stories about different cultures and the magic that is sharing a meal together. When not doing that, you'll find me working on my culinary degree, hanging with family & friends, and just trying to "live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." Salud!