Everyone seems to be including candy bars/buffets in their weddings and large parties. It is a great way to incorporate your party theme and a lovely little favor for your guests. As with all impressive party additions there is a big question of how do I do this!? A candy bar buffet can be easy with a bit of planning and know how and I will share my planning to help you with your candy bar.
What I found during my Google research didn’t seem to be very helpful. A lot of it’s this easy and presto… all done! I know this is not how things work. My biggest question coming into this was cost and size. I found plenty of inspiration, but no one really gave details of the candy used, how much of it, how much it cost and the size of their containers.
1. What types – Decide how many types of candy you’d like to serve. Figure you will want about 1/4-1/2 pound of candy per person and you’ll be ordering in pound increments. Or if you’re like me, you just pick however many types you feel like serving. I chose classic Brett favorites and a few risk orders, eleven varieties in total. He loves cinnamon candies, anything banana or peanut butter, and he’s a coffee junkie. We also did an oriental wasabi mix because he loves wasabi coated anything.
2. Containers – Gather containers all your potential containers trying to get a variety of shapes and sizes. I have quite the glass vase collection, so I swore I would not buy any for this candy bar! Most of my glassware came from the dollar store (gussied up with a bit of E6000 and candle sticks). Others are emptied jar candles and some purchased from Homegoods or TJ Maxx.
Measure each containers volume by using water and a measuring cup. We wrote the fluid ounces on a card and kept it with the container. Be warned that larger containers will take a lot more candy to fill and can get very expensive. We opted for smaller containers to keep most of the candy at a pound each, giving us flexibility to order more variety. We only did one large container for impact and filled it with the less expensive oriental mix that was supplemented with wasabi peas/nuts.
3. Cleanse – Wash your containers with a solution of equal parts vinegar and hot water. Vinegar will sanitize and remove any oily or soapy residue. Get them sparkling clean, dry, and then buff them all (inside and out). Saran wrap them to keep them clean. I want these candies to show through a nice clean glass.
4. Estimate – Match your containers to candy, trying to determine how much will fit in each container. Nuts.com has a semi helpful candy calculator. Of course it doesn’t cover all candies (almost none of the ones we ordered) but it’s the best out there. You’re just going to have to do your best to guess when ordering candy online.
5. Order – Order your candy early! Give yourself at least three weeks. I found ordering online from nuts.com to be the cheapest and best variety for our party. If you are ordering during the summer just be safe and pay for the better packaging and overnight shipping. You don’t want your candy to be melted or lose its shape. When in doubt, order extra. There’s nothing worse than getting all of your candy and realizing that you could have used three pounds instead of two. It will cost you more if you have to order another round of candy. And who doesn’t like extra candy?!
This was our order including the size of container and serving utensil. You’ll notice that the candy total is not cheap. The pricier items were well worth it to me in the long run, but you could go with less expensive candy. Please don’t have the misconception that this is a cheaper option to prepared favors.
Product NameContainerServeQty.Unit PriceTotal
Assorted Malted Milk Balls24 oztong1 lb$8.49/lb$8.49
Dark Chocolate Covered Banana Chips24 oztong1 lb$5.99/lb$5.99
Laffy Taffy32 oznone1 lb$4.49/lb$4.49
Silly Yellow Bananas22 ozscoop1 lb$3.99/lb$3.99
Cinnamon Imperials32 ozscoop2 lb$3.99/lb$7.98
Reese’s Pieces16 ozscoop1 lb$5.99/lb$5.99
NY Espresso Mix24 oztong1 lb$8.99/lb$8.99
NECCO Banana Split Chews15 oznone1 lb$3.99/lb$3.99
Maple Bacon Salt Water Taffy40 oznone1 lb$4.99/lb$4.99
Oriental Mix120 ozscoop1 lb$3.99/lb$3.99
Wasabi Soynut Explosion Mix1 lb$4.99/lb$4.99Total:$63.88
6. Stage – Stage your candy bar layout including books and boxes as risers. You want varying heights to keep things interesting. You will be covering all of these risers with a tablecloth, so anything of the right size will do.
7. Fill - When the candy arrives unsheathe your clean containers and get that candy in there! You will inevitably find that you will need to shuffle some of your candy into different containers since guessing is not exact. Wrap everyone back up! You want everything to stay fresh. Keep your candy bar someplace cool and out of the sunlight.
We were lucky that all the candy filled our containers perfectly without extras. This did take a bit of creative shuffling. Only three containers took the candy I originally assigned it in the guessing stage. I did have to pull out three different containers. I purchased the sixlets just so I would have an odd number of vases and more oriental mix to make it fit in the larger container.
8. Scoops – Gather all of your scoops/tongs and test out the candy scoops in the containers. Some things just work better with tongs and some containers just won’t take a scoop. I actually gathered my scoops during the container gathering so I could buy more if needed. I found it was better to do the scoop match up after having the candy in the containers. We decorated our tongs and scoops with jute twine to continue our theme and make the variations a bit more cohesive.
9. Label – Design tags and a sign for your candy buffet. I’m a big fan of labels on everything when it comes to parties. It’s also helpful since some candies just are unidentifiable. I used to hate sixlets because I always expected a sweet fruit candy and was surprised to find candy coated chocolates. Let’s not give any unpleasant surprises and keep the host away from needing to announce each candy for each guest.
10. Take away – Decide how your guests will package their candy. Keep your containers and scoops small to avoid excessive candy removal. I ordered 1/2 lb glassine bags instead of chinese take out boxes. They were considerably cheaper and took up less space on my candy table. I liked that guests could fill separate bags for individual candy types. I wouldn’t want red hots in the same bag as chocolate covered espresso beans, but hey, that’s just me. Personalize the bags with printable labels. You could even leave a pile of the labels on the table for guests to seal up their bags.
I originally planned to set this up outside since our party was outdoors. We opted for inside so the candy would not melt and would not fall over. Even though the oriental mix was visually and theme perfect, it just didn’t get eaten as much next to all the sweets. Maybe next time for a straight trail mix buffet.
I ordered a few candies I was not familiar with but sounded perfect for our theme and it worked out for us. We all fell in love with the risk order of dark chocolate covered banana chips and maple bacon taffy. It was no surprise that the sixlets and red hots were the only ones to see the following day. But Brett has no problem finishing those guys off on his own.
I really thought this would be one of those things that was unnoticed and unnecessary, but our guests loved it. There was always someone grazing by the candy the entire party. I had a blast putting this together and will definitely double the order on the bacon taffy and banana chips for next time!