Updated Nov, 2021- For ideas on how to put on a part on a candy buffet during the pandemic, checkout:Planning Your Gatherings at Home With Every Detail to Prevent Covid Spread (porch.com)
Over the last twenty years or so Bulk Candy Store has helped thousands of people put together candy buffets for their special occasions. We’ve helped people put together candy buffets for weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceañreas, baby showers and corporate events. Over that time we have also learned a lot about the mistakes people make when setting up their own candy buffets. At Bulk Candy Store, helping people avoid these mistakes has been a crusade of ours. Whenever we speak with a customer about a candy buffet, we try and make sure that they understand what to do and what not to do to make their candy buffet a success without breaking the bank. It is with this in mind that we present you with the following tips for your candy buffet.
1. Buy Your Candy On Time
Let’s start with the easy one. Make sure you purchase your candy early.
The shelf life of most candies is between 6 and 18 months, yet many people wait until the week before to purchase their candy. While we don’t think you need to purchase six months in advance, a month or so at least is a good idea. We recommend this because of the myriad of things that can happen with last minute orders. The store you order from might be out of stock on something you really want. You might get the product and realize that you need more, but don’t have time without expensive overnight shipping. Even if you order all you need and the company ships right away, there can be shipping issues. It’s not common, but packages do get lost or delayed by shipping companies and there is nothing worse than having your candy show up the day after your wedding! Here are three additional pieces of advice when ordering your candy early.
- If your candy was shipped to you, check the box when it arrives! It amazes us whenever we get a call from someone that ordered and received their candy early, but never bothered to open the box until the day before their event. When your order arrives, open it up and make sure everything you ordered is in the box and in good shape, and then you can tape it back up to keep it safe from the candy fiends (you know who you are!).
- Once you get your candy, make sure that it’s not in a place where all the candy lovers in your life can pilfer it on a regular basis. If you’re the candy fiend, then we suggest you leave the candy with a trustworthy friend or relative. If it’s for a wedding, the bride’s mom is usually a safe choice.
- Keep your candy in a cool environment, out of direct heat, the sun and the refrigerator. Contrary to what many people believe; it is not generally a good idea to put your chocolate in the fridge. A nice cool room temperature is fine.
2. Get the Right Number & Type of Jars
One of the questions we get asked a lot is how many jars you need for your candy buffet. The answer depends on a few different factors, including the number of people, the types of candy and the size of your display area. Some say you should aim for 5 jars for each 50 people at the party. This is a good guideline provided you use jars that hold about 5 pounds of candy each. Depending on the candy, 5 lbs. should fit nicely into a jar designed to hold between ½ and 1 gallon of liquid. If you are having a large event and don’t want to have dozens of jars, you can stow extra candy under the display table and have someone there to refill as needed. If you’re having a smaller event, you can use smaller jars to fill out the table and make it look fuller.
Very often people come into the store with pictures of the jars they need to fill (or with the jars themselves) and some of them are REALLY big. That might not be a problem if you are having a candy buffet for several hundred people, but it can certainly be an issue for a smaller event. Our recommendation is to look for medium size jars, that you can fill with a bag or two of candy.
Sure, that’s easy for us to say now, but you’ve already bought some big jars. Here are two tips for that as well.
- Fill your big jars with big candy (duh!). Look for big fluffy items like marshmallows or popcorn to fill that ginormous jar. Gumballs are also decent jar filler. If those items don’t suit your crowd, try using some less expensive, but popular treats like starlight mints.
- If you really like the big jar, but just can’t seem to fill it, try putting something inside it to take up some volume before you put in the candy. For example, you can put a smaller jar in the middle, upside down to take up some space. You can also get a foam cylinder and place it in the middle to take up some space (be sure to wrap it in plastic to avoid fuzzies in your candy). Whatever you use, just make sure you leave enough room around the edges and on the top for candy.
In addition to having the right size jars, you need to consider the shape of the jars.
In particular, you need to pay attention to the mouth of the jar. The jars in the photo above may be pretty but not a particularly good idea for an efficient Candy Buffet. If you want people to be able to reach the candy inside, you can’t use jars with small mouths. Jars with smaller mouths are perfect for items like candy sticks and licorice, but aren’t great for bulk items like gummy bears and chocolates. So keep your candy in mind when picking out our jars.
3. Don't Overpay for Jars
Candy buffets come in all shapes and sizes and the number of jars used can vary greatly. Most people use between eight and 12. With that many jars, it’s important to consider how much each is going to cost. If you just hit up the big craft stores, some glass jars can go for $30-$40. That’s a bit much for most people, especially if you’re buying them for a one-time event. If you’re planning far enough ahead and have some time, you can save yourself money by looking a few other places. If you’re really far ahead, try going to a few garage sales or flea markets. We know a few customers who have gotten great deals there. Thrift stores also often have a few jars lying around the store. Another place to look is discount stores like Home Goods and Big Lots; you might find some good deals there. If you really want that jar from the big chain store, be sure to go out and find your 40% off coupon!
Friends and relatives can also come in quite handy when looking for jars. If you have a good amount of time, ask everyone you know to look for jars wherever they go. They may have jars you can borrow or know someone who does. Borrowing jars can be a big money saver. Often venues have a variety of jars and are willing to let you use them as part of your event. Some will even fill them for you! If that’s the case, make sure you see the jars before you buy your candy. You’ll want to make sure they are the right jars for the candy you want.
Another way to keep your costs down is to skip the glass altogether and take a look at plastic jars. They may not be as traditional, but they can still look great and cost A LOT less than glass.
If you’re one of those people who like to run wild and buck tradition, you can try the no jar approach. Essentially, what you do is lay your candy on a table in some kind of organized manner, using a few jars as needed for unwrapped candy such as gummy bears.
4. Vary your Jar Heights and Sizes
Jars filled with different candies at the boutique candy store
Ok, so this one is really just a style issue, but most people seem to agree that candy buffets looks better when you mix jar heights and sizes.
Using big jars for bigger candy and smaller jars for other items is a start. Also consider varying the height of the jars using something to raise some of the jars on the table.
Glass blocks and plastic risers make great bases for jars and the resulting height adds contrast to your display and can make it look even bigger.
5. Get the Right Tools for the Job
Enough about jars, let’s look at the other accessories you’ll need, starting with scoops and tongs. Unless you want people to pick up their candy with their hands, you’re going to need scoops and tongs. Here’s the scoop on scoops:
- Make sure the scoops you get are the right size for your jars. If the scoops are too big to fit all the way into the jars, your guests won’t be able to get all the delicious candy on the bottom of the jar.
- In general, plastic scoops will work better for you than metal ones. Plastic scoops are less expensive than metal and are much less likely to break the glass jars.
- Don’t forget the tongs! Most people remember scoops for their candy buffets, but often forget about tongs. For some candy items tongs are a must. Items like marshmallows, gummy worms and licorice are pretty hard to pick up with scoops, but with tongs... easy! As with scoops, plastic is usually best and make sure to choose a good size.
Now it’s time to move on to the bags or boxes you will supply your guests to take home their sweet treats.
It’s important that you choose the right size take home bags for your guests to ensure that everyone gets something, instead of just the first 5 people filling their garbage bags with all your tasty treats. SIGH!.
The fact is that some people can be a bit “piggish” when they belly up to the buffet and if you give them a big box to fill, they will.
Most buffets that we’ve seen use candy bags and they’re usually in the range of 4” by 6”. Some go a bit bigger or smaller depending on the gusset, color, etc. but that’s about average. Chinese takeout and other boxes are sometimes used as well. Again, just be careful you don’t buy the giant box they use for the large order of Lo Mein, shoot for something more manageable.
6. Buy the Right Amount of Candy
If you search online you’ll learn that most people recommend between ¼ and ½ lb. of candy per person. Generally you can stay at the lower end for adults and the higher end for children. While those guidelines are great, most people buy too much candy.
The biggest reason they overbuy is because they have to fill big jars. If you read your way down this post, you know about buying big jars and what you can do about it to save yourself some money. The other main reason people overbuy is that they just want more candy. Some really just like candy. Other people say that their “friends” are big eaters, and others just want a really big candy buffet. Hey, if you want it, go get it, just make sure to…
7. Buy the Right Kind of Candy
We know what you’re thinking; who are these people to tell me what kind of candy to buy! Don’t worry, we’re not telling you to buy candy you don’t like (see below), but you do need to make sure that the candy makes sense for your event. For example, if you’re having an outdoor wedding on a beach in Hawaii, you probably want to stay away from chocolate and other melt-able candies. You also want to consider the crowd. If you’re looking at an older crowd, you might consider nostalgic candies like Mary Janes, or Bit-O-Honey.
Lots of kids? Try some of their favorites like Smarties or Airheads bites.
No matter what the crowd or event, you should consider using a variety of different candy types. This way you’re sure to satisfy each of your guests’ sweet teeth.
Keep in mind that no matter how much or what kind of candy you buy; odds are that you will be left with some at the end. And who wouldn’t want a little candy for their honeymoon? Because of that, it’s important to make sure you purchase candy that YOU, as well as your guests will like. Sounds easy, but you would be surprised how many people buy candy they don’t like for a variety of reasons. For example, we have spoken with several couples putting together a black and white candy buffet who want black licorice for the color, but don’t like it. Fortunately, with so many candies available in so many colors that doesn’t happen so often.
8. What about Themes & Colors?
A lot of people want to build a candy buffet that matches their party’s color scheme, and that’s usually easy to do IF they understand that it may be difficult to perfectly match their colors. For a black and white party, finding the perfect color candy might not be problem; but a lavender and coral buffet might be a bit harder. Looking for Tiffany Blue, you will certainly find some candy out there, but will you find enough candy you like to fill your buffet?
In this case, the best piece of advice we can offer you is to be a bit flexible in your colors. We’re not saying you should go blue instead of lavender; rather you might want to go with a few different shades of lavender. By opening yourself up to a range of related colors, you’ll make your life a lot easier and your buffet will look just a good, if not better.
While we’re on the topic of themes, we should point out that many people skip the two color option and choose a different theme all together. For example some go with a rainbow theme, choosing candies of all different colors. Another popular theme is nostalgic candy, filling a table with retro candy favorites that make your guests say “Wow, they still make this?” You can go with an ocean theme, using shades of blues, greens and whites. The possibilities for themes are endless. Of course if you’re the kind of person that just wants to have fun, you can skip the theme and just pick a bunch of candies that you (and maybe your guests) enjoy.
9. Beyond Candy
As candy buffets are becoming a standard feature at events, people are starting to expand upon them with other, non-candy items. We’ve seen cake pops, cupcakes, donuts and countless sweet additions to candy bars. We’ve also been seeing a lot of gourmet popcorn being added lately. Many people put these items right on the same table as the candy, for a varied look. Remember that as you add of these other items, you might consider lowering your candy by a bit.
10. Personalize the Buffet
No matter what candy, jars or theme you use, there are a number of ways to personalize your candy buffet. One of the most popular ways is using jar labels. These are labels you put on the jar that lists the name of the candy in the jar! If you fancy yourself a good designer, you can create labels yourself. If not, you can find all kinds of interesting templates and examples online. We’ve included a link to some that we found in the resource section below.
Table signs are another small (and inexpensive) touch that can have a big effect on personalizing your candy buffet. These can be as simple as a themed sign saying “candy buffet” (as if they didn’t know) or they can have whole paragraphs thanking your guests for attending and telling please eat the sweets. Some even make a point of telling guests be sure to leave candy for others. Again, a simple search online get you lots of example, plus we’ve listed some below.
In addition to the tables and jars, you can personalize the bags or boxes at your buffet. A simple way to do this is to print labels with the name/date of the event and place them on the bags. You might also think of some clever rhyme about candy and you living a “sweet life”. Either way, labels work great for this. Of course, there are also plenty of places online that will provide printed bags and boxes for you.
Want to personalize your candy, you can do that too! There are all sorts of personalized candies you can order online ranging from M&Ms and Sweethearts (you know, those Valentine's day hearts with the cute sayings) to custom mints. If those seem a bit expensive to you or just more than you want, consider labeling some your candy. Stickers on lollipops work well or try some labels for Hershey Kisses. They are a great way to add a little something to your buffet without breaking the bank.
So there you have it! Let’s run through the list so you can be sure you don’t miss a beat.
- Buy your Candy on Time and perhaps even EARLY.
- Get the Right Number and Types of Jars. Glass is way better than plastic. ;)
- Don’t Overpay for Jars. That’s right, Bargain Hunt!
- Vary your Jars Heights and Sizes. This will add dimension and flare your buffet!
- Get the Right Tools for the Job. Scoops, Tongs and Bags oh MY!
- Buy the Right Amount of Candy. Not too much and definitely not too little!
- Buy the Right Kind of Candy. Consider the guests eating the candy. Kids or Adults?
- Themes and Colors. Make it yours with a themed party!
- Give more Options than Candy. Cupcakes are always sweet :)
- Personalize your Buffet. Use jar labels and place cards to give your candy buffet a finishing touch.
BONUS CANDY BUFFET TIPS
So we’ve given you our top 10 tips for candy buffets, but we had a few more things to say, so we’ve added a bonus section!
Our first bonus is about getting help from other people. While lots of people pride themselves on being able to do it all themselves, there may be some times you want to call in the cavalry for a little extra help. Friends can be really helpful throughout the whole process of planning and executing the perfect candy buffet. If you’re short on time, budget or patience, there are some ways your friends can pitch in to help you. One way is to help you shop. We often get people in the store who are helping out by buying candy for a friend or relative’s event. Some come with premade lists, others are there to shop and take pictures and others are just there to pick up candy already ordered in our online candy store.
Friends and relatives can also be a great help the day of the event. If you’re doing your own candy buffet, you’ll need help with set up and clean up. If you’re doing and event for children we highly recommend that you have someone at the buffet to help keep order. We usually recommend an adult that knows the children or see if the venue has a staff person that will help you out.
Of course, there is always the option of having an event planner or candy buffet designer take care of the candy buffet for you. They can handle all of the details from jars to candy and attendance and all you’ll have to do is give them your preferences. Oh, you will need to pay them as well. Depending on your area and the event professional you should expect to pay between $5 and $20 per person for a candy buffet. For some of you that may be out of budget, for others they money may be worth it. It’s a personal choice. If you do use a candy buffet professional, be sure to check references, get photos of their work and make sure your expectations are clear. That should avoid any event day surprises.
Finally, we come to the resource section. Here you’ll find links to places we think will help make your candy buffet and even greater success.
- http://www.eatdrinkchic.com/post.cfm/diy-ice-cream-parlour-make-your-own-sundaes-buffet-concept-for-wedding-or-party - This post is about an ice cream sundae bar, but has some nice templates for jar, table and container labels.
- Buy your Candy Here! https://www.bulkcandystore.com/
- http://www.downloadandprint.com/templates-category/candy-buffets/ - This site features downloadable wedding invitations and has a few free candy buffet templates as well
- https://www.etsy.com/search?q=candy+buffet+labels - A link to Etsy, where you can have personalized labels made
- https://www.pinterest.com/jordencollins/candy-buffet-mistakes/ - There are a few Pinterest boards out there where people list examples of what they think are candy buffet MISTAKES. This one by Jorden Collins has the most posts and has very helpful content on what not to do for your Candy Buffets. It’s one woman’s opinion, but there is plenty of food for thought here.
We’ve come to the end. By now you should have some good ideas about how to craft your perfect candy buffet while saving yourself some money. Please feel free to share this with friends and to leave us any questions or comments below.