A few years ago I had this crazy idea to start a new business in addition to Frosted Events, focusing exclusively on designing candy and dessert tables and takeaway favors for weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, boutique openings and corporate events…. you name it. I came up with the idea after my friends daughters third birthday party. I was responsible for filling her glass dining table with the most beautiful goodies and treats for all her friends. After this I was getting tons of requests with kids parties for dessert tables and had started to see the trend popping up in weddings. And thats how Sweet Event Design was created! I love dessert tables, love coming up with fun themes and color schemes and building table decor that makes people go “wow, look at that!” when they walk in the room. I’ve created dozens of gorgeous candy buffets, some for small intimate in-home parties and some for ginormous company events. Here are my top tips for designing a fabulous candy buffet or dessert table:
1. Decide on a theme and color scheme. It all begins with this important part. Figure out what style you want for your table. There are thousands of themes you can go with: modern, classic, whimsical, vintage, glamorous…. Or just keep it simple with a pretty pattern or color combination. This will be the building block for designing your tablescape. Make sure it’s something you like and that it fits your event.
2. Set a budget. The hardest part for me was telling a bride or client that their vision of a wall of sweets and treats with gorgeous shimmery table linens and a pretty backdrop would be expensive. Very expensive. Candies and desserts can be very costly especially when you are trying to provide enough for a large crowd. Decide on your budget and then get resourceful about what fillers you can use to achieve the look without breaking the bank. There are tons of ways to make a dessert table look amazing without having to spend thousands of dollars, but you may have to let go of some of the must-haves you had in mind. Candy is often much cheaper than desserts, except for chocolates and personalized treats. Backdrops can be a deal breaker because of the time required to set-up a sturdy, safe piece and to dissassemble and remove. Try instead to choose a location for your candy and dessert table that already has a beautiful backdrop. In front of a window or center of a room often will make for better photos than up against an ugly colored wall. But be sure to check that the temperature is right for the location you choose so nothing melts.
3. Choose your jars and servers. This is the first step before you order candy or desserts, before you pick out decorations. This will help you decide how much you need to fill and where your open spaces are that need something splashy. I found most all of my apothecary glasses and platters at Homegoods, Marshalls and TJ Maxx. They have a ton of styles and designs to choose from and they are inexpensive. Ordering glassware gets expensive when you have to pay for shipping. Be sure to bring boxes and bubble wrap with you when you buy them so they are ready to be transported without breaking. Also, its best to stick with clear glass apothecary jars and simple white platters. White platters look best and can easily be jazzed up with pretty scrapbook, wrapping or tissue paper. A basic set of a variety of white platters will prove useful again and again for entertaining. I suggest 2 of each of these sizes: a 8 to 10 inch rectangle shape, a 12 inch or larger platter, and a tiered cake platter set with one slightly smaller than the other. You’ll want two of each size because it creates balance on the table with a mirror image effect.
—How many containers do I need? This all depends on your table size and container size. When designing my tables I found that for a 6 foot table I needed 4 tall large containers, 6 medium sized containers and 4 small containers, plus 4 to 6 serving trays. For an 8 foot table I increased the large containers to 6, with 8 medium sized containers and 6 small containers.
4. Decide on your candy and dessert selection. You have your theme and color scheme, you’ve purchased your containers, now its time to pick the goodies. Spread your containers out across the table you are using. Try to mirror each side with matching pieces or similar styles and heights. Grab a notebook and some post-it notes. In your notebook mark how many large containers, medium, small and trays you have.
It’s best to buy your candy in bulk from an online candy store. They have a greater selection and the candy is much fresher than the candy you’ll find in most of your local candy stores. Plus it hasn’t been picked through by tons of people.
Find really cute cookies, macaroons, cake pops and other detailed sweets on Etsy. There are so many awesome, super talented bakers on there, you’ll find lots of yummy desserts to add to your table.
5. Time to Decorate. You’ve got the basics down, now you just need to fill in the details and make your dessert table look extra pretty. Things to consider
- Backdrop- do you want to use a backdrop to match your theme and colors? There are tons of options for building a dessert table backdrop. Order a large vinyl graphic or step and repeat. Hang some curtains or fabric. Get creative and string together something fun and festive.
- Centerpiece- Do you want a center focal point? Sometimes this part can really bring the whole table together. For a birthday party or wedding a gorgeous multi-tier cake would work as a centerpiece. Beautiful flower arrangements are also great to fill in the space.
- Add some height. Creating different heights for your table adds balance, makes it appear much bigger and is helpful for guests reaching for goodies. It’s easy to give your table a few layers by using wooden crates and craft boxes found at any local craft store. Cover with fabric or pretty gift wrap. Or you could use some fun props to elevate and accentuate your desserts. Stack some cute paper suitcases, use shadow boxes or clear acrylic souvenir cases.
- Fill back vases with decorative pieces. Use silk flowers or fruit to fill up large glass pieces.
- Label everything with pretty printed cards. You can find lots of fun printable decor to add to your table. Also important for those candies that may not be automatically identifiable. Chocolate peanuts may surprise someone not wanting a certain taste. Note: it may be best to avoid anything with nuts anyways just as a safety precaution to guests with allergies
- Favor Bags. Personalize your favor bags with fun lettering or choose a fun container, like a take out box or gable box.
These are some of my tips for a DIY Dessert Table. Check back soon for the next part of this series where I’ll share more, like where to buy candy, popular themes and color schemes and ways to make a big impact on a budget.
Hi guys! I’ve received tons and tons of requests on where I find all my fabulous apothecary jars, glassware, candy containers and serving dishes for candy buffets. All of mine are from Marshalls or HomeGoods. I am absolutely obsessed with HomeGoods and visit the one near us atleast 3 or 4 times a week. Most of my table decorations come from there as well. They have the prettiest collection of vases and cool finds for centerpiece decor. Best part is they are super budget friendly. I’ve found medium sized jars there for under $10, and most of our really large apothecary jars were less than $20. So you could easily purchase an entire set of glassware to build your own DIY Dessert Table for a wedding or party, complete with 8 to 10 containers all for less than $200. Plus you’ll get to keep them and use them as pretty home decor after the party. I love filling mine with fruit to spruce up our kitchen and I keep a jar on my office desk with some bright pink gumballs.
Such a great tip to focus on the jars early. Love that, as it’s so easy to start thinking about what’s going to go inside and then end up with treats that don’t fit their spaces. You mentioned the benefit of having a basic set of white trays for entertaining. What are your thoughts on having a set of vintage silver trays? Do you think they’re too limited style-wise?
I have a few vintage silver trays that I love using on dessert tables, and as serving trays. I think you can never have too many serving dishes or trays, lol! I collect them, my cabinets are just full of pretty pieces I’ve found over the years.
Hi, this looks really yummy,
what are the candies on picture for with the candied popcorn?
Look forward to your reply.