You would think after being a parent for 21+ years that I would have learned a thing or two. Such as, if your daughter has a special request for her graduation open house, you probably should just say no or at least investigate a little before saying yes.
Still, when my high school senior asked for a candy buffet instead of a cake, I thought it sounded pretty simple. Buy some candies, fill bowls, decorate – simple, right? In fact, her graduation is about an hour and a half from where we live, because we homeschool and do an online school. So, not having to pick up a cake the same weekend as her graduation sounded like a good idea to me. I could buy the candy well in advance, after all.
Candy Buffets Are Not Simple!
Let me assure you that candy buffets are anything but simple to put together. Those candy ladies who charge hundreds of dollars to create a one-of-a-kind sweets buffet for your event? They deserve way more than you’re paying them.
Just what goes into a candy buffet?
- Candy – obviously. However, you can’t just trot down to your local Sam’s club and stock up on candy, unless you’re smarter than I am. You see, I let her pick the color pink for her candy buffet. There aren’t many candies that come in pink, in case you were wondering, unless you want to buy multiple colors and pick all the pink out.
- Jars and containers – Again, I thought this would be simple. I assumed I could just go to the thrift store and pick up some different size candy jars. Nope. Not one to be found.
- Decorations – Oh, and it isn’t just about the candy. You must have a backdrop, you must have cloths to cover the table, ribbons, labels, etc.
You can probably see that the cost of all this adds up pretty quickly. Trust me, if your child has asked for a candy buffet, scream “No! We only do cake here.”; and run from the room as fast as you can.
Since I try my best to keep my promises to my kids, we’re going forward with this insane candy buffet. You know me. I love to save money where I can and I absolutely refuse to spend $300 on a candy buffet. So, here are my solutions for a buffet that will run closer to $150.00. Shh! Don’t tell my husband. Don’t worry, he never reads my crabby gripes – they are too much like real life I suspect.
Frugal Candy Buffet
I finally found a candy shop in California called Candy Pros that will ship candy. They have some of the best prices I found and an amazing selection. No, I’m not getting a kickback from them. Amazon also had a nice selection of candy. Here is how I saved money and things you can do better than I did.
- Don’t agree to a single color theme. Pink candy is what killed my budget. Had I said, “Sure, we can do a candy buffet, but it has to be a rainbow theme…” Well, let’s just say I could have used coupons, shopped after Easter sales and saved a ton of money on candy.
- Don’t be afraid of the dollar store. I finally found a nice variety of clear and pink see-through containers. Most of them were located at the Dollar Tree. The key is to have three levels on your buffet. You want a taller layer in the back, middle size and then short in the front. Makes sense so guests can view all the types of candy and reach them easily. So, you can use boxes under the fabric to lift the containers or you can buy different size containers.
- Don’t be tied into candy everything. Instead of filling flutes with chocolate pearls and then sticking the lollipops in those, I’m using shredded gift tissue that I bought at Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon. This also allows me to introduce something other than pink into the color scheme, because I don’t want the table to look like it threw up a bottle of Pepto Bismol (I would never pick pink if you’re wondering). I bought black and the pink candy should pop in that.
- Think outside the box on decor. The sample buffet picture I saw on Pinterest had expensive little teddy bears, silver towers in the back, etc. No thank you. First, I doubt my 18-year-old daughter would be into those teddy bears and second they are too much of a monetary investment for a buffet that lasts one afternoon. Instead, I bought these swirly pink bejeweled things from the floral area at Hobby Lobby (50% off and $2 each). I also bought some white table sprays from the dollar store. Again, I don’t want ALL pink, so these white sprays will add some interest but won’t cost a fortune ($2).
- Make your own candy. I simply am not going to have time to do this, but had I been able to make the candy myself, I could have saved a fortune. You could easily make ahead cake balls, cookies, coat pretzels in pink tinted white chocolate (or color of your choice), etc.
- Have a variety, even if it costs more. When we first started buying candy, we leaned toward jelly beans, gummies, etc. However, we love sour candy and some people don’t. I quickly realized we needed more of a mix, so we added some different chocolate candy, sweet/salty (pretzels), suckers, buttermints (in pink of course), and so on. I am considering adding some pink iced cookies, too.
- Buy over time. Some candy can keep for at least a couple of months, so be aware of what goes stale and what stays fresh. If you buy the candy in batches, you can get it when on sale and also split up the cost a little.
In the end, I can only hope I have enough candy for everyone. There is just a point where you have to say that enough is enough and what you’ve bought will have to suffice (you hope anyway). Can you tell this candy buffet is making me crabbier than usual? I’ll keep you posted on how it goes the day of the party. I suspect an epic candy buffet fail. Pictures to come soon.