Very trendy, a candy buffet, also known as candy table or sweet table, is a great way to accentuate wedding receptions, baptisms, graduations, bridal showers, baby showers, anniversary, parties, corporate events, and suitable for any social gathering celebrations. It can be set not only in a reception hall but just as well at the office, at home on an elegant butler pantry, or elegantly in the shadow of a flowering garden. If you think that candy buffets are only for children parties, you would be surprised. Please trust me on this one... adults are worst than kids when it comes to candy buffets. At your event, you may even experience the shocking truth on how some adults will completely forget good manners. They will help themselves generously at your sweet table and make provisions for the rest of the week.
Just like flower arrangement, a candy buffet is a substantial, powerful element of decoration and needs to complement the style and feeling you wish to convey. Harmonized to a colour scheme, the sweet table will reveal an assortment of beautiful jars filled with mouth-watering treats for your guests to enjoy.
The cost may vary considerably according to the amount of guests, the size and number of jars to fill, and the type of candies you will be serving. With so many variables, the cost can range anywhere from $3.00 to 9.00 per guests, and sometimes even more if you have it done for you. One way to greatly reduce the cost is to do it yourself. You can achieve setting a gorgeous candy buffet even on a small budget. It requires some planning but the experience is fun and will be memorable and cherished forever. By carefully evaluating all your options, you will soon realize that a candy buffet can be done at different price levels. There is no set cost; you simply need to decide on a budget, and stick to it.
DIY Candy Buffet in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1 - Deciding on the size of the table
Knowing the size of the table or surface upon which you will be displaying your candy buffet is the very first step. Keep in mind that the larger the surface is, the more jars you will want to get, and the more candy you will need. For an event of 100 guests or less, a selection of seven to nine different jars of candy would be appropriate. For a larger group, you may want to increase the number of jars to at least ten or twelve.
If you prefer offering only a few choices of candy, use fewer but larger jars, and if you want a wide a variety of candy, add extra jars but smaller ones. The choice is yours.
Step 2 – Selecting attractive clear glass jars
Clear glass apothecary jars and vases enhance the colour of the candy. For an outstanding look, diversify their shapes and sizes. Look around your house (or your mom’s house) and you may find treasures! Be creative, you may already have clear glass bowls, vases, cake trays... For practicality, the opening of the jar should be wide enough to easily access the sweets with serving utensils. The size of your jars will of course, affect the cost of your candy buffet. The bigger the jars, the more candy will be required to fill them to the top.
When selecting candy jars, I personally find the mirror effect setting on the buffet quite appealing. For a total of seven jars, I will select one round and large jar as a centrepiece, two identical tall jars set on each side of the centrepiece, than 2 more styles of smaller jars to set in front of each tall ones. The idea is to balance the proportion of both side of your candy buffet. Experimenting with the setting of your table by evaluating different combinations or ways to display your jars will reveals unique, interesting possibilities. In the back row position of your table, hide under the tablecloth thick phone books or cardboard boxes to create elevation.
Step 3 – Calculating the amount of candy you will need to fill your jars
With this exercise, you’ll get a better idea of the amount of candy you’ll need to purchase. First, you need to measure the capacity of your jars simply by filling them with water. Pour the water from the jar into a large measuring cup, and calculate the amount of cups of water required to fill every one of your jars. Record the capacity for each jar into a notebook and safely guard that information.
In a second, you need to calculate approximately the total weight of candy your jars hold. I stress the world approximately because candies vary in size and in weight. Some candies like salt water taffy are bigger but weigh very little; a one kilogram bag will fill 12 cups. Jelly Belly beans on the other end, are small but are heavier; a one kilogram bag will fill 4 cups. By comparing the capacity of each jar with the type of candy to fill it with, you can start figuring which candy to fill in which jar. To save on the cost of your candy buffet... bigger, lighter and less expensive candy should be used to fill large jars, and smaller, heavier, and more expensive candy, smaller jars.
Before we go any further, there is another important piece of the puzzle needed. How much candy should you calculate to satisfy the sweet tooth of your guest?
A good figure is to allocate approximately 200 grams (8oz) per guest. For example, by calculating 100 (guests) by 200 (grams), you would require about 20 kilograms (1000 grams = 1 kilogram) of candies. If you will be handing cello bags or boxes for the guests to bring home some of their favourite sweets, you will need to increase your quantity of candy. If your cello bag or box fits 50 grams of candy, multiply by the total of guests (100), and the result of 5 kilograms is the additional candy that will be required. Keep in mind, the favour bag or box used the more additional candy you will need to get. Enough candy should be available after the evening for your guests to bring some home.
Equipped with your jar capacity measurements combined with the total weight of candy your jars hold, you need at this point to compare this result with the total weight of candy needed for the amount of guests. Are the numbers comparable? If so, great job you are on the right track. If the total weight of your candy jars is much higher than the candy weight for the number of guests, it means that your jars are too big, or you are using too many. To rectify and balance the numbers, use smaller jars or eliminate some; otherwise you’ll end up with too much candy at the end of the event. Reversely, if the total weight of your candy jars is much lower than the total candy weight for the number of guests, you’ll need to get bigger jars or increase the amount of jars for your candy buffet. Be analytical, the result of both calculations doesn’t have to match exactly. Use the result as a baseline to get a general idea if you are on the right track.
Another school of thought is to not worry about the above calculations and set a candy buffet according to your preference and budget. For a large event, create a substantial impact, and prestigious visual effect of abundance, by setting a large table, selecting a wide variety of huge candy jars, and filled them with lots of candy. Then at your event, you will carefully observe the child-like pleasure, and delight in the eyes of your guests. The same rule applies if on a smaller budget. Set your candy buffet on a small table, use smaller jars and filled them up with less expensive but fresh candy, decorate the table elegantly, and you’ll achieve great results. Set a buffet table stress-free, according to own specific needs, style, and most importantly, by respecting your budget range. Reveal the sweet table only later after the meal, and when there is no more candy, there is simply no more candy.
Step 4 - Selecting the candy
Here are a few tips on how to select candy for a truly memorable candy buffet that is as pleasing to the taste buds as for the eyes. In harmony with the theme or colours of your event, your selection to be interesting must vary in shapes, sizes, and textures. Your assortment should also be pleasant for both fruity and tangy candy lovers. Gummy, candy, taffy, gumball, licorice, chocolate, caramel, lollipop, and even no sugar added candy if needed. The possibilities are endless. If setting a monochromatic candy buffet, select candy of different tints, tones, and shades. The overall visual effect makes for a more interesting look. An important note to remember; due to the manufacturing process, the colour of the candy may vary from one batch to another. Reality check, don’t expect different candies produced by different manufacturers to be the exact same pink, blue, yellow, or any other colours for that matter. Embrace the difference.
For additional help on selecting candy, read our blog about Candy Buffet Top 10 Candy.
Step 5 – Adding the final touch
Once you finalize the selection of candy, it is time to have fun by finding interesting elements to decorate and add that special finishing touch to you candy buffet. Decorate your jars with creative labels, beads, pearls strings and fancy ribbons. Use flowers, candlesticks, figurines, dolls, nostalgic items, or any imaginative element that will accentuate your candy table. You will need serving utensils, and containers or bags for your guest to help themselves.
As the big day approach, avoid being at the last minute by ordering the candy a few weeks prior the event. The candy will stay fresh in kept in sealed bags, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight or heat source. Fill your jars of candy a day or two before the event, tightly cover with a good quality plastic wrap, and then, insert each covered jars into a strong plastic bag. If possible, set your table beforehand with the candy jars, decorations, scoops and utensils, and cover the buffet with a big sheet until revealing time.
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