A few weeks ago, I shared with you how a candy buffet was putting me over the edge of sanity as I realized how expensive and difficult it could be to put one together. I promised to update you after my daughter’s graduation party. Let me just say that the candy buffet was a huge hit with those who attended her open house. It turned out really cute and if there is one thing that makes my heart happy it is having something unique that people will remember long after the party ends.
I learned so much doing this buffet and I have new respect for those who set up these buffets as a business. I have no idea how they make any money at all doing it, but I respect the creativity and effort involved. I’m going to share how the buffet went and hopefully some tips that will help you if you are as crazy as I am and decide to do one of your own.
Setting up the Buffet
- I started by pulling out all this candy I’d been buying for months leading up to the event. There was a nice variety. I also pulled out all the containers.
- Allow PLENTY of time to set up your buffet. What you see in the picture to the right took a total of about five hours to put together.
- Decide on a background. I started with white streamers, which I hung vertically and twisted slightly. I had pink balloons at the top to start with because I’d seen a cute photo backdrop done that way on Pinterest. It was a Pinterest fail. When I got up the next morning, the balloons were laying on the floor. I then took these gathered streamers I purchased at Party Supply and used those instead across the top.
- Think levels. After talking to someone I met at another graduation party a few weeks before, I was given the idea to buy some dollar store boxes and pink wrapping paper to create some levels. The flutes you see in the back that are taller are actually sitting on two wrapped boxes to raise them up.
- Keep the candy buffet on its own table. If you have a variety of candies, they will take up the space.
- Don’t spend a fortune on the tablecloth. It is a backdrop only. The focus is the candy. What you see here is a $1 Dollar Tree plastic black tablecloth. I then bought a roll of wide gauze type ribbon at Hobby Lobby for 40% off (about $2 for the roll). I cut the roll of glittery gauze into strips and layered it here and there. Finally, I spread some large dot confetti (I think it was $1.49 at Hobby Lobby on sale).
- Remember your layers (taller in back and shorter in front).
- Also, try to spread out the colors if you have different shades of pink, blue or whatever color you choose. I had both light pink and dark pink candies, so I tried to vary them.
- The suckers were hard to display but in the end they added a lot to the overall look of the buffet. My oldest daughter first took the pink cowgirl suckers (my daughter loves horses, so this also lended a personal touch) and stuck them into little Styrofoam circles from the dollar store (2 circles for $1). She then spread some wrapping confetti across the top.
- For the swirly pop suckers, I took some plastic dollar store flutes ($1 for 2). I used the same wrapping confetti but in black ($1 for a big bag that was more than enough). I filled to the top and then tucked the suckers into the cups. The result was really cute.
- I used some larger flutes I purchased at Goodwill for $1 each and put the pink foil wrapped chocolate caramel balls in them. I also placed some in a smaller bowl in front. They were a unique color and added some different texture to the overall look.
- After placing things, I stepped across the room and looked at the buffet and just rearranged as necessary for balance. If you aren’t good at arrangements, ask a friend or family member to help. I got my daughter and mom to give me their opinions as well.
- Finally, I added the finishing touches. I used chalk and little chalkboard labels (dollar store again). On the tall containers, I put the label right on them. However, I really like the look of the black chevron paper straws with the labels better. It also allowed me to move things around as candy ran out and I had to refill. For example, I had one family member who was a little too excited about the buffet and completely depleted my supply of caramel balls before other guests arrived. I had to refill that bowl with other candy I had tucked in the back room. Therefore, I had to swap the label. Had it been stuck on, this would have been harder.
- I added some simple sprays I also picked up at the dollar store. I used white, but they come in black and other colors. Some people use these to tie down balloons.
- I also laid out scoops so people could easily scoop candy. I did order the scoops online from Amazon. I ordered a dozen and that was about right for this size buffet.
- I really wanted to order those little letter ceramic dishes and spell out Hailey’s name. However, it would have been very expensive to order all those. They were around $10-$20 each. Instead, I picked up a little chalkboard and sparkly pink letters from the dollar store ($2 total). I spelled out Hailey’s name, used chalk to write 2015 and placed it in front. It was cute and within my budget, which was already shot from buying candy.
- I also made a sign with the candy buffet “rules” (which everyone ignored, btw) and placed the candy bags in front of the sign. I just used MS Word and a background of pink zebra stripes and then layered a text box with a white background over it and used a simple black text. The frame was also from the dollar store.
- I placed the candy bags in front of the sign for easy access, but you could also put them in a holder of some sort, perhaps a napkin holder. A few days before the party, I chose to go buy smaller bags than the ones I had. It is a good thing I did. I had one person packing the backs as full as possible and then putting them in my Ziploc baggies (which I never offered). You will always have at least one person like this at any party, so the smaller bags at least slightly limit this a little.
I consider the buffet a real success. It was cute! Yes, it was a pain in the neck to put together and I doubt I’ll ever do it again. However, people liked it. It was a hang out spot, a conversation point and was a lot of fun for our guests. Even though it took a lot of work to set it up and take it down and it was pretty expensive to buy all that candy (see my other article about going with a rainbow of colors to save money), it was unique and my daughter was happy with the end result.
In the end, we wound up with too much candy, but I always prefer to have too much than not enough. If I ever again have a candy buffet, I do think I’ll go ahead and hire a professional to set it up for me. It would be well worth the added expense. However, we will likely stick with cake or maybe an ice cream bar in the future.