When it comes to planning your wedding or party, you might think that a dessert or candy buffet would be the very last thing on your to-do list. It seems easy enough, just buy a bunch of candy and confections and set it up on a table, right?
Wrong. A candy buffet might seem like an easy task, but it takes hours of work and planning to execute properly. Take a look at some of the extravagant dessert tables by event planner Amy Atlas; she has perfected the art of candy buffets and spends countless hours bringing her clients’ visions into fruition. And, like any savvy business woman, she doesn’t readily share her secrets.
So we’ve put together some real-life tips on how to plan and set up the perfect candy buffet. From choosing colors to the layout of the table, we’ve got you covered. We’re not saying we’re experts on staging candy buffets, but let’s just say that we can have eye for aesthetics. We also made a quick layout that you can save and print for when you plan your next candy buffet. Check it out!
1. Use the color wheel to pick your palette.
There are a few things to consider when choosing your party palette. First, what is your setting? Are you having a rustic outdoor wedding? A playful birthday party for your toddler? When in doubt, just use the color wheel. The best color pairs are monochromatic, complementary, or analogous.
Monochromatic colors are different tints of one color; you’re not limited to a set amount of colors, so you can use 3 shades, or 20 shades of pink if you want. This is probably the easiest type of color scheme to go with, because there’s no way you can get it wrong.
Complementary colors are opposite on the color spectrum; sky blue and orange, for example. They are colors that will produce either black or white, when combined properly. They provide high contrast when layered on top of one another. If you use 2 complementary colors, you’ll need an accent color as well. Be sure that the accent color is more muted than the first two.
Analogous colors are usually next to one another on the color wheel: yellow, orange, and peach, for example. Only one color (either the primary or secondary) will be the dominant color. Analogous colors are most often seen in nature, so if you’re planning a rustic outdoor wedding, aim for analogous.
2. Try the triangle!
A good rule of thumb for any dessert or candy buffet is to set up your table in a triangle design, with the peak being the focal point. Your focal point may be an elaborate cake, or a piece of decor, but there needs to be one or two elements that stand out among the rest of the candy.
3. Keep the eyes moving up.
Since we’re on the subject on triangles, remember that there needs to be a vertical element that draws the eyes up. You can do this using a backdrop, or an overstated focal point. In this jungle party candy buffet, they have a few vertical elements: the grass, balloons, and photo frames.
4. Finger Foods in the Front
Finger foods belong in the front zone. When your guests approach the table, they should be able to easily grab individual treats. If you don’t have any baked goods like cupcakes or cakepops, try using candy bars or other larger single serve candy.
If you’re running low on candy or desserts, you can also put utensils or scoops in the front row. This comes in handy when planning a buffet on a budget; if you don’t have enough sweets to fill three rows, just make the first row for tools, napkins, and drinks.
5. Bulk Goes In The Middle.
In the middle zone, there should be jarred bulk candy, or “scoopable” candy. Arrange some custom scoops around the containers so that there’s no confusion; you don’t want 200 guests sticking their hands in the same jar.
When you choose your bulk candy, try not to mix colors if it’s unwrapped; it might confuse the eye. For instance, if you’re using yellow and pink M&Ms for a baby shower, put a jar of yellow next to a jar of pink and do the same on the opposite side of the table. The goal is symmetry!
6. Tallest In The Back.
The focal point should always be in the back of the table (whether it be a cake or decorative item) as well as the tallest jars or decor. Your guests should be able to access candy easily, so it’s not wise to fill a super tall jar with bulk candy because your guests won’t be able to reach it at a certain point.
Instead, use long candy like rock candy or pixie sticks and fill the base of the tall jars with tissue paper or decor. The dessert table above doesn’t have alot of candy, but notice how they used the tallest stands for cupcakes in the back.
7. Tall Containers for Tall Candy
When you’re planning your candy buffet, you’re probably thinking about how great it’s going to look in pictures; but remember, this spread is ultimately for your guests so you’ll want to plan accordingly.
Like we mentioned before, if you’re planning on using small-mouth vases, put some stick candy inside, not bulk candy. See the picture above. Your guests won’t be able to reach the candy after a certain point, and you want to get your money’s worth.