The holiday of Halloween is basically built around the consumption of candy, so what better way to celebrate Halloween than with a candy buffet? Candy buffets are no longer just confined to weddings: they're now popping up at birthday parties, bridal showers, and all sorts of holiday parties. So here's what you need to know to set up an amazing Halloween candy buffet!
The first thing to do when setting up any candy buffet is to decide on a theme and on candy colors. Fortunately, since we're making a Halloween candy buffet, the choice is easy. I decided to go with traditional Halloween colors of orange and black (with a little white thrown in) for the candies, and to keep the decorations simple and a little bit spooky.
When you're setting up a candy buffet for an occasion like a Halloween party, chances are you aren't going to have the large guest list--or large budget--that you would if you were planning a wedding candy buffet. So the trick is to reduce the cost, and the total amount of goods, while still making the buffet look exciting and plentiful.
Simple decorations like crepe paper, a bright tablecloth, and fake spiders and ants can add interest and visual appeal to the table. Do you recognize that candy corn tree from the last blog post? I also created a few fake "tombstones" from some of the black candy bags to make the table look more full. You could also add flowers or leaves with fall colors, or scatter pumpkins (carved or uncarved) among the candy bowls. There's nothing worse than a candy buffet that looks sparse and neglected, so any additional decorations that fit the theme and colors are always a good idea!
The idea behind a candy buffet is that guests help themselves, so make sure you provide them with containers to hold their candy. I'm using orange and black bags from a craft store, but you could also use takeaway containers or cloth bags.
Candy buffets aren't familiar to everyone, so it's a good idea to have a sign welcoming your guests and letting them know the protocol. I created this simple sign to go in a 5" x 7" frame, and I'm happy to offer it for free if you'd like to use it. Download the candy buffet sign here in candy buffet sign jpeg format or as a candy buffet sign psd file.
Speaking of signage, don't forget the all-important candy labels! Some candies might seem obvious, but others--like my adored pumpkin malt balls--might need a little explaining. You can stay literal or go cutesy, but whatever you do, make sure that each type of candy is labeled. If you like these labels, you're in luck--I have blank candy buffet label templates for you to download as well, in candy buffet template label jpeg or candy buffet template label psd. (I adapted these templates from ones found here.)
Let's talk containers. Clear glass (or plastic) containers are best, so the candies can be easily seen and admired. Of course large candy dishes are a natural fit, but don't feel limited to "proper" containers. Try using large vases, jars, pitchers or even oversized martini glasses for serving candy! Thrift stores can be a goldmine of beautiful old glass containers, and I think the effect is more charming when you have a range of sizes and shapes on the candy buffet.
If you have smaller amounts of certain types of candy, use a smaller container! A few candies rattling around in the bottom of a giant bowl looks sad. It's better to have an overflowing smaller container than a half-full large one.
To give the candy buffet a sense of dynamic movement, vary the height of the containers by propping some up on small stands under the tablecloth. Having a range of different heights keeps the eye moving from container to container. Of course, a line of marching spiders adds a little movement too!
Now that we've figured out where we're keeping the candy, how will you be serving it? Unless your friends bring their own sterile gloves to your Halloween party, you probably want to provide small scoops for them to use. (In a pinch, you could substitute spoons instead.) Decorate the scoops with some ribbons to tie them into the rest of the table.
Last but certainly not least, let's talk candy selection! You want to offer your guests a range of candies, in every sense of the word: make sure you have different colors, different textures, and different ingredients. A mix of chocolate, sugar candies, gummies and hard candies makes sure that there's something for everyone. Oh! Nuts has a huge selection of Halloween candy. Here is some of what I used to build this candy buffet:
- Candy corn
- Jelly Belly Halloween jelly beans
- Yellow rock candy (rock candy is a MUST!)
- Orange rock candy
- Mellocreme pumpkins
- Halloween chocolate mint lentils
- Pumpkin spice malted milk balls (my absolute favorite!)
- Twizzlers black licorice bites
- Peach licorice
- Halloween Jordan almonds
I also added a few easy homemade candies, like chocolate-dipped pretzels and caramel apples, to add a little variety.
Finally, the most important part of putting together a Halloween candy buffet is to have fun! Halloween is a lighthearted holiday, and we all know candy is a blast, so just enjoy it! To get started, check out this selection of Halloween candy for inspiration. Happy Halloween!
All images and text (c) Elizabeth LaBau