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How To Set Up A Candy Buffet (Step By Step Instructions!)

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candy buffet

Tonya Coleman here from Soireé Event Design, and I’m back with the “Trend Alert” where I share with you some of the hottest trends in party planning!

This candy buffet trend is still going strong…in fact it has become a staple in most parties these days from small parties and baby showers to large weddings.

In today’s guest post I’m sharing How To Set Up A Candy Buffet In 6 EASY Steps! And be sure to scroll down for access to the full budget breakdown and Pinterest board with links to most of the items I used in this table design.

Candy buffets are my all-time favorite party trend and are always featured in any party that I plan. When I first started designing them, I had so many questions, like how to figure out how much candy I would need.  I had no idea how many jelly beans are in a 10 lb bag or how many m&m’s would I need to fill an apothecary jar!

So, after trial and error, I have come up with 6 steps that I always use along with tips to help you set up your next candy buffet. Let’s take a look at this Baby Shower Candy Buffet table for 24 guests completely finished and then I’ll show you step-by-step how I did it.

candy ideas

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candy buffet


6 Steps to Setting Up A Candy Buffet!

Step 1:  Decide on a theme & colors

Candy buffets are all the rage in Baby Showers!  They are taking the place of giving out traditional party favors.  They are interactive, fun and a definite wow factor to the decor of any party.  The first thing I do when deciding on a theme is pick my printables first.  That way I can design everything else around those colors.  Here I chose my “Girly Baby” baby shower printable collection and decided on an all pink and white color palette for the candy and the table’s decor elements.  Now, where can you find all pink and white candy?


Step 2:  Pick out the types of candy you want

There are so many types of candy to choose from.  To make it easier, I separate candy into 4 categories:

Bulk loose candy: sold by the pound
Individually packaged candy: offer one per guest
Designer candy/sweets: offer one per guest
Display candy: used for decoration & filler

I like to use a mix of all 4 types of candy so I can display them in a variety of different containers and to ensure there is one of each of some of the candy for each guest and then bulk loose candy that guests help themselves to a scoop or two.

Candy Warehouse is my go-to resource for candy as they are reliable and have high-quality candy in a wide variety of colors. They even have a handy tool on their website called a Candy Buffet Builder that will allow you to search for candy by a specific type or even more fabulous…by the color you are looking for. This makes this step of picking out the types of candy to match your color-coordinated candy buffet a breeze!

TIP: If you have a candy request from the guest of honor that is not available in your colors, like Skittles for example, simply divide the candy into favor sized portions and package them up in individual color coordinated favor boxes or bags so the guest of honor’s favorite candy is on the table and still matches your color palette.

Step 3: Setup the table in 3 zones with appropriate containers 

I always set up my table first to see how much space I actually have to work with before I order the candy.  This way I can order just the amount of candy I need to fill the containers that can be displayed on a 6′ (for smaller events as shown here) or 8′  (for larger events) table without having to refill it.

When doing a color coordinated candy table, always use clear containers so the color of the candy shows through.

Remember to use containers that will properly display the types of candy you chose in Step 2.  If you offer bulk loose candy, be sure that you use containers with a large enough opening for a scoop to fit in and short enough that guests can actually reach to the bottom. If after setting up your table, you may realize you don’t have enough space to display 100 individually packaged candy like swirl lollipops for example, you will have to adjust your choices to include more bulk candy instead that can be displayed in one large jar which takes up less table space.

Setup your table in 3 zones!
Divide your table into 3 horizontal zones and use height appropriate containers in each zone.

rock candy

Back Zone: Use taller containers or use photo boxes or glass jars to elevate your containers in this zone. Make sure the containers are not too tall so your guests can reach the candy inside them and avoid tipping them over. Test this in advance to avoid this. I used sixlets in the bottoms of the 4 stemmed hurricanes to make the rock candy sticks sit higher in the container so they are easier for guests to get to. I also used 2 glass jars with lids to hold the marshmallow poles in this zone but had the containers lowers to allow for better reach.

TIP: I don’t use bulk candy containers in this zone because it is difficult to reach and scoop out bulk candy in tall containers at the back of the table especially when the candy starts to get low.

apothecary jars and candy buffet tips


Middle Zone:  The middle area of the table is where I display bulk candy in 2 sets of apothecary jars to balance the table design with 3 jars on each side of the table for a more balanced look. Using 6 jars allows you to display a lot of candy here without taking up too much of the table space.  In this zone I used 6 apothecary jars to hold all the bulk candy—m&m’s, gum balls and chocolate balls.  Apothecary jars from Koyal Wholesale are some of my favorite containers to display candy. They have a fabulous set of 3 for $39.98 that are affordable and a must-have in your collection as they hold lots of bulk candy, can be used in almost all party themes and weddings and take up minimal table space.  The set (shown here) includes (1) 14″ tall with 6″ opening diameter, (1) 13.75″ tall with 5.6 opening diameter and (1)12″ tall with 5.3″ opening diameter.

TIP: For larger guest counts (50 or more), I suggest having 4 sets so you have 12 large vessels to hold bulk candy which serves more people with minimal table space.

cotton candy

Front Zone:  The front of the table is where I use trays or shorter containers to display individually portioned items like cotton candy bags, ribbon candy, swirl lollipops and jumbo marshmallows embellished with Sparkle Sticks!

TIP: To display swirl lollipops, re-use the cardboard trays that the swirl lollipops were shipped in by wrapping them with paper, embellish with a ribbon and printable circle, then reinsert the lollipops into the pre-punched holes.

Step 4: Figure out how much candy you will need

apothecary jars and candy buffet tips

Candy Warehouse’s general rule of thumb is to order 8 ounces of candy per guest. Most of their candy is sold in 5 lb bags which equals 80 ounces.  This candy table is setup for 24 guests, so I would need 192 ounces of candy or 15 lbs of candy.  For larger guest counts I order more bulk candy and less individually portioned items.

For individually packaged candy, I always order one per guest, that part is easy!  But what do you do when you go to order loose candy and it’s all sold by the pound! OH NO! How do you figure out how much 10 lbs of jelly beans actually looks like and would it be enough to fill one or more of my fabulous apothecary jars? Here’s a breakdown of the candy used on this table and a visual reference of how the candy fit in the apothecary jars.  I also showed you the candy in 1 gallon freezer bags so you can see how much candy it actually is:

chocolate balls

marshmallow poles

Bulk loose candy:
– M&M’s (5 lb bag)
– gumballs (box of 850)
– puffy poles jumbo marshmallow twists (1 bag)
– foil wrapped chocolate balls (5 lb bag)

rock candy

Individually packaged candy:
– swirl lollipops (24)
– rock candy sticks (38)
– cotton candy (24 bags purchased from Soiree-EventDesignShop.com)

Designer candy:
– ribbon candy (4 boxes)
– jumbo marshmallows (1 bag)


apothecary jars and candy buffet tips

Display candy:
– sixlets sugar candy beads (5 lb bag)
– jelly beans (10 lb box)

Candy Warehouse also has a great video here that shows how some of their most popular bulk candy fits inside a standard 1 gallon glass jar so you don’t have to wonder how much you will need to order.  You can also click here for a handy Candy Shelf Life Chart that will help you figure out how far in advance you need to order the candy so it is fresh for your event.

TIP:  When shipping candy in the summer months, it’s a good idea to use faster shipping options for only the items that may melt and then use a more economical ground shipping option for the rest.  That way you don’t have to pay rush shipping on your entire order!

Step 5: Design your table with a wow-factor tablecloth, backdrop & centerpiece

When your guests enter your party space, the candy buffet should be a WOW-FACTOR!  The first things they will see is the tablecloth, backdrop & centerpiece.

sequin tablecloth

Matching backdrop:
Here I used a fabulous vinyl pink tufted backdrop from Bubblegum Backdrops that perfectly sets the scene for the table—it’s girly and matches our color palette perfectly.  The backdrop comes with a top rod pocket for easy setup on a backdrop stand.  They have a huge selection of backdrop designs to choose from to match any party theme.

Show-stopper table linen:
For a huge touch of girly sparkle, I covered the table with a gorgeous blush colored sequin tablecloth from Candy Crush Events that is breathtaking!  These come in other colors and are a show-stopper touch!

Themed centerpiece:
The centerpiece should be one of the first things people will see on your table, so make sure it is fabulous and matches your party’s theme.  My signature “bling bear” cupcake tower centerpieces are a super cute way to bring a girly baby shower theme to the table. To add the needed height to the centerpieces, I use clear acrylic plates and tubes from eFavor Mart to showcase the bears high above the table to ensure it is visually powerful.  The bears are dressed in rhinestone studded “baby girl” t-shirts, pink bows and are holding silver rattles and crystal pacifiers.  So posh!

The cupcake tower gives the middle of the table height and is a great way to add additional sweets to your table.  This acrylic 5-tier cupcake stand from eFavor Mart is my all-time favorite party supply!  It sets up in minutes, displays up to 48 standard sized cupcakes and the inside clear tube can be filled with colored acrylic ice gems to match your colors.  Once set up, I display store-bought cupcakes and give them a designer touch with glitter cupcake wrappers from Koyal Wholesale, pink shimmery pink pearl sprinkles and printable cupcake toppers from Soiree Event Design Shop.

Step 6: Finishing touches

This is my favorite part…adding the details!  Once you have all the candy to match your color palette, the last thing to do is add all the finishing touches to enhance the theme of the table.  Check out how I used these items to pull the Girly Baby Shower theme together:



Themed party printables!
This “Girly Baby” printable collection from my shop was the perfect addition to add a modern, girly look to the table.  I used the cupcake toppers, Lolli-tag™ sticks with bows, table sign and labels to add a personalized touch to celebrate the coming of Baby Kori!

sparkle stick


Add a little bling!
What is a girly candy table without a little bling!  These fabulous bling tongs & scoops from Talia’s Creative Printing adds just that bit of sparkle detailing that will have your guests talking!  The bling Sparkle Sticks™ from Made By A Princess is the perfect addition to really glam up simple jumbo marshmallows!

whirly pop

Embellish with bows & ribbon!
Glam up the candy and containers with bows and ribbon.  Here I added black ribbon to the swirl lollipops and decorated their display cartons with wrapping paper, ribbon and printable circle.


candy bottles

Decorate with candy!
How fabulous are these BABY letter ceramic dishes from The Tomkat Studio Shop! They come in every letter so you can create any word you like!  For this baby shower table, the word BABY was perfect and allowed for a cute decorative display for the jelly beans.

TIP: For baby showers, I use candy as game prizes all the time and these square plastic bottles with lids are perfect for that.  Simply fill them with jelly beans, place a stick with a printable down in them and place them on your table to add a decorative element to the table until game time.


Want to know how much this candy table really cost?  Click here for the full cost breakdown and check out my Pinterest board here for a list of most of the items I used in this table design along with prices and links to purchase them.


Vendor Credit


  1. @Wedding_Agent October 1, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    How To Set Up A Candy Buffet In 6 EASY Steps! http://t.co/vT5IwBLvvb #weddings

  2. jocelyn H October 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing. A definite go to for my customers when they think they are paying too much.

  3. Christie Skerski October 1, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    Fabulous info! Love it all, Tonya!

  4. Yolanda Johnson October 1, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Very good post !! I have never considered the “zones” but it makes perfect sense. Great idea. What girl doesn’t love Bling!!?? Love the idea of Bling Scoops.

  5. Montrilla Jones October 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I love it Tonya you are the best. Oh and I’m loving how you rocked out the Tongs. To cute:)

    • tonya October 1, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Those tongs are to die for and are made by Talia’s Creative Printing! A must-have for any girly buffet!

    • Talia October 2, 2013 at 6:04 am

      Thank you so much! Be sure to like us on facebook http://www.fb.com/taliasprinting

  6. Shannon De Atley-Johnson October 1, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Great write up Tonya! There are some great tips here that will save people a lot of time when setting up/creating a candy bar. I love the blinged out tongs! Thank you for sharing!

  7. Deliris Ramos October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Tonya, I really admire your work. You’re the best!!!!!

  8. Miranda Beltran October 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    I love all your insightful helpful hints that you give all us party peeps! The breakdowns are awesome and very helpful! Love this set up especially since I just found out today that I will be styling a baby shower soon! Thanks for all the inspiration Tonya!!

  9. @ShreyParekh October 1, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    @KoyalWholesale featured in @HWTM_Jenn this morning! How To Set Up A Candy Buffet https://www.hwtm.com/2013/10/how-to-set-up-a-candy-buffet-step-by-step-instructions/ #koyalwholesale

  10. Chaukeisia P. October 1, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Thank you for sharing and this candy table is very beautiful.

  11. Jessica October 1, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Awesome tips! Love all your designs & ideas!

  12. Valerie Painter {Greyson Design} October 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Awesome Job Tonya! Very helpful and beautiful!

  13. @gobrandurself October 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Great step-by-step buying guide to create your own candy buffet! #party #candy @SoireeEventDsgn https://www.hwtm.com/2013/10/how-to-set-up-a-candy-buffet-step-by-step-instructions/

  14. @AscentialMom October 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    How To Set Up A Candy Buffet (Step By Step Instructions!) https://www.hwtm.com/2013/10/how-to-set-up-a-candy-buffet-step-by-step-instructions/

  15. May October 1, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Love it! Great tips and so helpful when deciding on what type of candy and how much! Thank you for this wonderful post!

  16. Silvia L. October 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Great tips and so detailed! Beautiful sweets table design, too!

  17. @AllAboutNuptial October 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    How To Set Up A Candy Buffet (Step By Step Instructions!) http://t.co/8wVFOeAV78

  18. Blanca October 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Great post Tonya such awesome tips. Your table looks fabulous love all the bling and sparkle!!!!

  19. @AllAboutNuptial October 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    How To Set Up A Candy Buffet (Step By Step Instructions!) http://t.co/HbqnbU9FXW

  20. Leslie October 2, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I Love this!! Very helpful and the table is gorgeous. Thanks for the tips Tonya!!

  21. Alejandra Morin October 2, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Great job Tonya! Very informative and detailed. Thanks for sharing!

  22. Candy Buffet Ideas and Tips | Party Junction October 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    […] The Hostess with the Mostess Blog has a really helpful step-by-step guide on it by Tonya Coleman of Soiree Event Design.  The […]

  23. Margaret McLemore Elkins October 5, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Thanks for the tep by step guide. I love candy bars, but this will make it much simpler to put together.

  24. Kim - The TomKat Studio October 5, 2013 at 8:56 am

    Such a great post, Tonya! Thank you for using our BABY letter dishes and other supplies! Looks fabulous!

  25. Layne October 7, 2013 at 8:38 am

    This is SUCH a beautiful party. I LOVE all the pink! Thanks for sharing.

  26. monica anderson October 10, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    Very nice….Where did you find the teddy bear with the baby girl t-shirt? Also the pacifier would make nice party favors. Where did you find those? Your work is awesome.

  27. pamela avila October 12, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    buenas tardes, hacen envios a mexico?

  28. Kike Villa October 13, 2013 at 1:46 am


  29. Chef Ella October 14, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Great info, huge help, thanks

  30. Michele gilbert October 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm


  31. Jana M. October 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Absolutely Beautiful! Ive seen plenty of candy buffets but none like this. Great job.

  32. chuibaca October 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    beautiful! beautiful! what size of backdrop did you order for table? also, those long cake pilars with the pink stuff stashed in them.. where can i buy those or what are they called?

  33. Irene Duran October 24, 2013 at 1:43 am

    Everything looks so Beautiful. Great ideas for my Daughter's Baby Shower next month. Cant wait to get started!!

  34. Teamdenton Aau October 29, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Very gorgeous.Fabulous…very helpful info to help explain to my clients. Where did you get the clear trays?

  35. Rican Chika December 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Hi what is the color of the cupcakes wrapper you used in this picture? I love the theme!! Thank you.

  36. How to Buy Containers to Display Candy at a Candy Buffet | Culture - Popular Question & Answer January 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    […] Helpful Resources How To Set Up A Candy Buffet (Step By Step Instructions!) // Hostess … […]

  37. […] Hostess with the Mostess // Photo and Styling by Soiree Event […]

  38. Fanski February 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    What size jars do you recommend for a rectangular 6′ table with only 25 guest?

  39. Alina Hernandez February 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Hi, what size backdrop did you order from bubblegum backdrops?

  40. Jessica February 7, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you so much very helpful. I am currently looking for ideas for my daughters sweet sixteen for next year, it’s going to be under the sea theme. Any ideas or links.

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  43. Cylia Lowe April 4, 2014 at 3:33 am

    Wow! Beautiful. Thank you for the helpful tips!

  44. Sharon Floyd April 21, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    wow! very helpful info to set up my candy buffet.

  45. Angel July 6, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    This is absolutely AMAZING! I find that most professionals in any aspect of event planning (cake designer, florist, coordinator, caterer, etc.) do NOT want to share their secrets for success. Kudos to you for being secure enough in your own skills that you understand sharing information is going to make people appreciate what you do and how well you do it even more!!!

  46. Michele July 18, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Is this a business for you? If yes how do you price out different tables?

  47. Wedding Invitations by Tango Design August 23, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    it looks absolutely stunning. The colour combination, the candies chosen, everything! The manage of space and symmetry also amazing. Love it.

  48. AJ August 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Where do you get the stemmed hurricanes?

  49. Ana November 4, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Hi! I love your setup! Can you tell me where you purchased the square white plates/trays? Thank you!

  50. Candy Bar | Crafty Tricks November 5, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    […] https://www.hwtm.com/2013/10/how-to-set-up-a-candy-buffet-step-by-step-instructions/ (She offers some really great advice on setting up a candy buffet. However, as a warning, the example used is beautiful, but incredibly expensive. There is no need to spend over $1000 on a candy buffet.) […]

  51. Demetria S January 13, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    Amazing post. Will use for sure <3

  52. Dawn Rice-Norton January 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Where did you get the letter candy dishes, ie the BABY one here?

  53. Festive Friday - Valentine's is Here! - Dana Decals January 23, 2015 at 3:06 am

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  54. Bev January 28, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Love this idea, where are the BABY letter plates from , please

  55. Event Food for Thought | Events by Renee Blog February 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm

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  56. […] source […]

  57. Rob MacDonald March 30, 2015 at 4:24 am

    did you order any?

  58. Abuti Bekele April 5, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Very helpful thank you

  59. Jessica Brown May 8, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Very helpful blog and such a beautiful candy displays….I like all of them…Thanks You

  60. Isabel Lara May 11, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I came across this page, and its simply amazing.. I recently opened up a small shop and I’m trying to learn as much as I can about decorating.. especially kids birthday parties and babyshowers that’s what I’m trying to focus on.
    My question is, if you spent 1600, how much would you charge for setting up a table like this?

  61. Carol June 16, 2015 at 4:54 am

    I love the idea of having the teddy bears on top of the candy filled tubes. Where can I purchase those?

  62. […] 3. How about a beautiful candy buffet, where everyone gets a chance to fill their sweet tooth by picking whatever goodies they’d like.  You can choose candies that match your décor or theme perfectly.  A great thing about this idea is that people will take what and how much they want, and those that choose not to, don’t have to walk out with something that they do no like or will not enjoy.  Here is blog post explaining the science behind setting up a sweet table/ candy buffet, from this wonderful site: Hostess With The Mostess Blog […]

  63. laura August 11, 2015 at 5:02 am

    Where ever did you find your swirly lollipops? I have Googled my fingers off and have had zero success. :/

  64. Amanda Brooke Tramont August 19, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    What are the dimensions of the hurricane vases in the back, and where did you buy them?

  65. Ava's Party Designs August 25, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    This was a very helpful blog thanks for sharing. I was able to get pretty much everthing but I had the most awefull experience ording from http://www.efavormart.com. I will never order from them again,however the other sites were great!

  66. Emily February 6, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Love your ideas

  67. Tonja July 3, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Want to subscribe to your website. I am thinking about going into business doing
    candy buffet tables. Would love to receive career advice from you.
    Tonja W.

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