Before you stock up on treats for your candy bar buffet, you’ll need to come up with a plan. Having a strategy will save you time, money and frustration. Plus, with a clear plan, you can execute with precision (and way less stress)!
Not sold on candy? Check out these beautiful wedding dessert table ideas.
Step 1: Consider the Guest List
Start by asking yourself: What kind of party am I having? If you’re planning an adults-only event, feel free to display lots of beautiful glass vessels of all shapes and heights. However, if you’re hosting an event with kids, consider using clear plastic containers on a shorter table.
It helps to have a rough idea of what kind of candy is best for your candy bar, too. If guests are pretty young, look for candy that won’t pose much of a choking hazard. Have older guests coming? Opt for vintage or nostalgic candies, like these popular brands from childhood.
And, if you have attendees with dietary restrictions, make sure you clearly label all candy that contains common allergens, like nuts and dairy.
Step 2: Consider the Space
Before you go crazy stocking up on supplies, consider the space you have available and the size of your table. Will your guests be able to access the entire table on all sides, or will it be pushed against a wall? This will help determine how many containers you need.
Height is another thing to keep in mind. Varied heights will add impact to your presentation. Plan to have lower profile vessels in the front and/or around the sides. For the middle row of candies, you’ll want a bit more height; while in the center and/or back, you want the tallest containers.
When it comes to the actual vessels, glass jars are traditional. But add some character to your display with funky trays, old fishbowls, cake stands, vases or apothecary jars. Check out your local thrift store for some original options. (Psst! These are the items you should never pass up at Goodwill.)
Editor’s Tip: Bigger containers aren’t always better. They need to be filled with a ton of candy, which can prompt you to buy more than you need.
Step 3: Bring Your Table to Life
If your party has a theme, integrate some of those fun elements into your candy bar buffet. We recommend starting with colorful linens, then creating energy with festive space fillers like stuffed animals, jumbo-sized candies, flowers, balloons and clever signs. Look to keep the colors on the table to no more than four.
Work with the space you have around the table, too. If the table is pushed against a wall, make the most of it by hanging a backdrop, garland, balloons, ribbons, artwork or photos.
Finally, be sure the candy selection complements a well-defined theme. Is this a Mario Bros. party? Make sure you have little toadstools and princess candies. If it’s a wedding, offer champagne-flavored gummies, white rock candy or billowy handmade marshmallows. And if it’s a Christmas party, try one of these festive themes.
Step 4: Pick Your Candy
How much candy do you need for a candy buffet? Obviously, more people mean more candy is needed. Provide at least half a pound per attendee. (It’s much less than it sounds!)
Make sure you have variety, too. Plan on one type of candy for every dozen or so people. For example, 100 people would call for 8-10 types of candy. If you’re on a budget, consider including some bulk candy to save a bit on your investment. Just keep people’s preferences in mind. If you find an inexpensive candy that you wouldn’t eat, there’s a good chance no one else wants to eat it either.
You also don’t have to stick to only candy. Feel free to add cupcakes, brownies, cookies or other mini treats, too.
Step 5: Add the Finishing Touches
Do you have napkins for the event? Serving spoons? How about takeaway bags so guests can munch on their treats all night long? Keep these extras in mind when determining the final budget for your buffet.
And overall, have fun with it! With a little thought and planning, your candy bar buffet will be a huge hit. The sugar not only makes everyone happy, but it will fuel the party, as well.
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Every Christmas my grandmother and I made divinity, just the two of us. I still make it every year. —Anne Clayborne, Walland, Tennessee Get Recipe (Check out our full guide to how to make candy for tips, tools and more!)Taste of Home
Peanut Butter Fudge Cups
My husband often travels during the week, and this fast-to-fix microwave peanut butter fudge recipe is perfect for just my 2-year-old and me. —Lori Brow, Manhattan, Illinois.Go to Recipe Chocoholics will love our chocolate candy recipes!
My grandmother gave me this tasty chocolate bonbons recipe when I was a girl. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of her huge kitchen and all the delicious treats she made. —Joan Lewis, Reno, NevadaGo to Recipe
Pacoca (Brazilian peanut candy) is an easy treat that has only five ingredients! It’s a popular sweet in Brazil, and after you try it, I’m sure you’ll love it, too. —Francine Lizotte, Surrey, British ColumbiaGo to Recipe By the way, here’s how to melt chocolate five easy ways.
Perfect Peppermint Patties
Calling for just a few ingredients, this is one candy that’s simple to prepare. I make lots of different candy at Christmas to give as gifts. It’s time consuming, but worth it to see the delight it brings to people.
-Joanne Adams, Bath, MaineGo to Recipe By the way, here’s how to temper chocolate.
Birthday Cake Fudge
This decadent birthday cake fudge is the perfect thing to make your big day special. Or make it ahead and package it as a surprise gift for a friend. —Rashanda Cobbins, Milwaukee, WisconsinGo to Recipe Make sure you avoid these common fudge mistakes.
Not only is this my family’s favorite festive dessert, but it makes a delicious holiday present, too. Best of all, you can (and should) prepare these ahead. The candy gets better as it’s stored, with the centers becoming even juicier. —Linda Hammerich, Bonanza, OregonGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Haystack Cookies with Peanut Butter
Peanut butter haystacks are one of my favorite desserts. I love to serve them to guests because they marvel at how something so simple tastes so good! —Starrlette Howard, Ogden, UtahGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Perfect Chocolate Fudge
This rich chocolate fudge is sure to delight someone you love. —Dorothy Anderson, Ottawa, KansasGo to Recipe
Bourbon Pecan Pralines
Like authentic pecan pralines found in New Orleans, these treats are sweet, crunchy and rich! —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe If you want candy with a wintry angle, take a look at these homemade Christmas candy recipes.Taste of Home
These chocolate peanut butter balls (no bake!) are always popular at my church’s annual Christmas fundraiser. They resemble chestnuts or buckeyes—hence the name. —Merry Kay Opitz, Elkhorn, WisconsinGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Pumpkin Seed Toffee
My kids are allergic to nuts, but they can eat pumpkin seeds! Every fall we save the seeds from our pumpkins to add to various recipes, including this one. —Suzanne Earl, Spring, TexasGo to Recipe
These chocolate-covered pretzels came from my grandma, who loves to make candy and treats for my students. I have followed in her footsteps and make these for people at work and for other family members. —Aimee Worth, Fair Oaks, CaliforniaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chocolate Angel Food Candy
If you love angel food cake, you are going to love this candy. The taste is irresistible. —Geralyn Emmerich, Hubertus, WisconsinGo to Recipe You’ll want to stuff stockings with our best Christmas candy recipes.
Crispy Peanut Butter Balls
I make over 40 different types of treats during the holidays for friends and family. These crispy peanut butter balls are one of my favorite candies to give away as gifts.—Liz David, St. Catharines, OntarioGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Cranberry Butter Crunch Bark
One Christmas I dreamed this recipe up when making buttercrunch toffee. It is an addictive treat that disappears fast.—Heather Ferris, Vanderhoof, British ColumbiaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Homemade Mango Marshmallows
Homemade marshmallows are much better than bagged ones. I had yummy results when I flavored my recipe with mango nectar. Look for it in your store’s Mexican food section. —Deirdre Cox, Kansas City, MissouriGo to Recipe
Maine Potato Candy
Years ago, folks in Maine ate potatoes daily and used leftovers in bread, doughnuts and other dishes. This potato candy recipe captures all of the old-school flavors. —Barbara Allen, Chelmsford, MassachusettsGo to Recipe
Not only is this the best-tasting divinity recipe I’ve ever made, it’s the easiest! Try it with and without the pecans. —LaDonna Reed, Ponca City, OklahomaGo to Recipe
I pack these easy candied pecans in jars tied with pretty ribbon for family and friends. My granddaughter gave some to a doctor at the hospital where she works, and he said they were too good to be true! —Opal Turner, Hughes Springs, TexasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Banana Cream Chocolate Truffles
This truffle recipe was created from ripe bananas and my imagination, and the outcome blew my family and friends away! I don’t particularly like bananas, but I could eat these truffles all day long. —Michele, Lassuy, Orlando, Florida (Check out these tips for making chocolate truffles!)Go to RecipeTaste of Home
Chocolate Pomegranate Candies
This recipe pairs white and dark chocolate with whole, natural ingredients for an unbelievably delicious treat! These candies are perfect to give as a gift for Christmas. —Kelly Zdrowak, Orchard Park, New YorkGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Angel Food Christmas Candy
It was my dad who inspired me to first try making this Christmas candy. He remembered it from when he was a boy. The ultimate compliment was when he told me my version tasted even better!Go to Recipe
I look forward to the taste of pumpkin every Thanksgiving. This easy pumpkin fudge recipe lets me do that and everyone loves it.—Marlene Fudge, Rushville, IndianaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
These candies disappear as fast as I can make them. The five-ingredient microwave recipe is easy and fun to make. When drizzled with white chocolate and packaged with ribbon, they’re a pretty gift. —Charlotte Midthun, Granite Falls, MinnesotaGo to RecipeThe musical "Waitress"
Salted Peanut Squares
If your gift list is long, here’s a yummy solution. The recipe makes nearly 10 dozen chewy, nutty, sweet-and-salty bars.Go to Recipe
I discovered this caramel recipe in a local newspaper years ago and have made these soft buttery caramels ever since. I make them for Christmas, picnics and charity auctions—and they are so much better than store-bought caramels. Once people have a taste, they ask for the recipe. —Marcie Wolfe, Williamsburg, VirginiaGo to Recipe
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Fudge
Something about the combination of dark chocolate and raspberry is just so addicting. This fudge makes a heartfelt homemade gift, or just a treat that’s worth sharing. —Barbara Lento, Houston, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
I get nothing but rave reviews when I make these gumdrops and usually have to prepare three batches. The refreshing orange flavor is a nice change from the usual chocolate holiday candies. —Becky Burch, Marceline, MissouriGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Peanut Butter Logs
These peanut butter logs have definitely stood the test of time. My husband has been enjoying them since he was a toddler! —Micky Faginkrantz, Ft. Bliss, TexasGo to Recipe
Chocolate Cherry Fudge
This chocolate cherry fudge is unique from others, and festive for the holidays. It’s a recipe my husband really enjoys. I’ve made it for our Homemaker group’s Christmas party. —June Lindquist, Hammond, WisconsinGo to Recipe
Chocolaty Peanut Clusters
I turn to my slow cooker to prepare these convenient chocolate treats. Making candies couldn’t be any easier! —Pam Posey, Waterloo, South CarolinaGo to Recipe
Coconut Creme Chocolates
I’m a proud wife, mom of three and grandma of many. I’ve cooked many things over the years, including these marshmallowy chocolates. —Dolores Wilder, Texas City, TexasGo to Recipe
Martha Washington Candy
Passed down by my grandmother and mother, this Martha Washington candy recipe is a cherished family tradition. We’ve even had each grandchild and great-grandchild take a turn stirring the candy mixture! —Cindi Boger, Ardmore, AlabamaGo to Recipe
Potato Chip Clusters
Just three offbeat ingredients add up to one unique, delectable, no-bake treat. These super easy, sweet-and-salty candy clusters make for merry munching during holiday trips or parties. They travel well in containers without melting or getting soft. —Donna Brockett, Kingfisher, OklahomaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
With their bright color and frosty sugared look, these homemade gumdrops are irresistible. They’re softer than the store-bought kind and have tongue-tingling anise flavor. —Richard Bunt, Painted Post, New YorkGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Black Cherry Swirl Fudge
This colorful treat is sure to satisfy the sweetest tooth in any family! It’s always been a favorite with my nine kids, eight grandkids and my Bible study group. I vary the soft-drink flavors to get colors that match other holidays during the year. —Pauletta Bushnell, Lebanon, OregonGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Pretzel Bark Candy
I usually make this pretzel candy as a gift, but it’s also fun to share at office parties. The recipe makes a big batch and stores well. —Betty Claycomb, Alverton, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Macadamia & Coconut Caramels
I collect cookbooks from all over the world and use them to create new dishes. These smooth caramels have a scrumptious and exotic flavor. —Sharon Delaney-Chronis, South Milwaukee, WisconsinGo to Recipe
Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy
With only three ingredients, these chocolate-swirl treats take just moments to whip up! If you have little ones visiting for the holidays, have them help you with the stirring. —Holly Demers, Abbotsford, British ColumbiaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Aunt Rose’s Fantastic Butter Toffee
I don’t live in the country, but I love everything about it—especially good old-fashioned home cooking! Every year, you’ll find me at our county fair, entering a different contest. This easy toffee recipe is a family favorite. —Kathy Dorman, Snover, MichiganGo to Recipe
If you like coconut, you’ll love these no-bake, no-fuss sweets. They are cute as can be and make a satisfying after-school snack to keep in the fridge. —Flo Burtnett, North Gage, OklahomaGo to Recipe
Old-Time Butter Crunch Candy
Both my children and my grandchildren say the season wouldn’t be the same without the big tray of candies and cookies I prepare. This one’s the most popular part of that collection. We love the nutty pieces draped in chocolate. —Mildred Duffy, Bella Vista, ArkansasGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Creamy Peppermint Patties
These smooth chocolate candies fill the bill for folks who like a little sweetness after a meal but don’t want a full serving of rich dessert. —Donna Gonda, North Canton, OhioGo to Recipe
This five-ingredient recipe makes serving up treats easy and scrumptious. —Laura Hanks, Harleysville, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Homemade Peanut Butter Cups
I like using pretty mini muffin liners and topping these homemade peanut butter cups with colored sprinkles to coordinate with the holiday we’re celebrating. People can’t believe how simple it is to make this irresistible candy with gooey peanut butter centers. This is how to make homemade peanut butter cups. —LaVonne Hegland, St. Michael, MinnesotaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Everyone raves about these chocolate and caramel candies. I received the recipe from a friend while living in Texas. When we moved, I made sure this recipe made the trip with me! —June Humphrey, Strongsville, OhioGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chocolate Pecan Caramels
I haven’t missed a year making this candy for the holidays since a friend gave me the recipe in 1964! It is made like a pan of upside-down bars and tastes like my favorite caramel pecan candies. We are natives of the Lone Star State who moved to Ohio when my husband was transferred several years ago. —June Humphrey, Strongsville, OhioGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Texas Pecan Pralines
My pecan praline recipe is special to me for I received it from my mother, who was an excellent cook! I also am a Texas Aggie Mom and I use pecans from a South Texas Aggie grower that our Aggie Mom’s club has purchased from for many years. The quality is outstanding and far better than you will find in any grocery store. —Carol Jones, Blue Ridge, TexasGo to Recipe
Caramel Pretzel Bites
I created this recipe wanting to make my own version of a pretzel log dipped in caramel, chocolate and nuts from a popular candy store. These are smothered with homemade caramel. —Michilene Klaver, Grand Rapids, MichiganGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Cookies ‘n’ Cream Fudge
I invented this confection for a bake sale at our children’s school. Boy, was it a hit! The crunchy chunks of sandwich cookie soften a bit as the mixture mellows. It’s so sweet that one panful serves a crowd. —Laura Lane, Richmond, VirginiaGo to Recipe
Spiced Rum-Nut Brittle
Seasoned with cayenne pepper and cinnamon, this spicy microwave brittle packs its own heat and warms up holiday visitors. It also makes a superb stocking stuffer! —Terri McKitrick, Delafield, WisconsinGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Curry-Kissed Coconut Fudge
If you love Thai flavors and love fudge, you’ll adore this creamy coconut fudge sprinkled with a hint of sweet curry powder. —Sarah Meuser, New Milford, ConnecticutGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Trail Mix Clusters
These delicious snacks make wonderful gifts, and although they look and taste like they came from an expensive chocolate shop, they couldn’t be more guilt-free. The dried fruit and nuts are heart-healthy and full of fiber. Bet you can’t eat just one! —Alina Niemi, Honolulu, HawaiiGo to Recipe
Crunchy Candy Clusters
These cereal and marshmallow clusters are so simple that I make them for the holidays each year, as my family looks forward to them. —Faye O’Bryan, Owensboro, KentuckyGo to Recipe
Three-Chip English Toffee
With its melt-in-your-mouth texture and scrumptiously rich flavor, this is the ultimate toffee! Layered on top are three kinds of melted chips plus a sprinkling of walnuts. Packaged in colorful tins, these pretty pieces make impressive gifts. —Lana Petfield, Richmond, VirginiaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
No-Bake Peanut Butter Treats
Perfect for road trips, these peanut butter oatmeal balls won’t stick to your hands. Keep them in the refrigerator for portable snacks. —Sonia Rohda, Waverly, NebraskaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Easy Peanut Butter Fudge
My sister shared the recipe for this unbelievably easy peanut butter fudge with marshmallow cream. I prefer using creamy peanut butter for this mouthwatering dessert, but the chunky style works just as well. —Mary Jane Rummel, Linglestown, PennsylvaniaGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Soft Chewy Caramels
One of my first experiences with cooking was helping my mother make these caramels. We’d make up to 12 batches each year. Today, I do at least 95 percent of the cooking at home, but my wife does much of the baking. —Robert Sprenkle, Hurst, TexasGo to Recipe
Nut Butter Cups
My indulgent, nutty treat is simple to make and looks fabulous. At our house, we use all-natural ingredients for them. —Courtney Stultz, Weir, KansasGo to Recipe
Almond Cherry Fudge
Cooked in the microwave, this fast fudge is a sweet addition to any holiday gathering. I make it when I need a quick treat for a school party or to take to a neighbor. —Shellie Tucker, Hendersonvlle, TennesseeGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Marbled Orange Fudge
This decadent treat doesn’t last long at our house. The Creamsicle flavor of this soft fudge brings on the smiles. Bright orange and marshmallow swirls make it a perfect takealong for events and get-togethers. —Diane Wampler, Morristown, TennesseeGo to Recipe
You may be tempted to save these chocolate truffles for a special occasion since these smooth, creamy chocolates are divine. But with just a few ingredients, this truffle recipe is easy to make anytime. —Darlene Wiese-Appleby, Creston, OhioGo to Recipe
I wasn’t a fan of white chocolate until I made this candy. It’s tangy, sweet and creamy all at the same time. The bark was a lovely treat during a springtime shower but would be nice year-round. —Diana Wing, Bountiful, UtahGo to RecipeTaste of Home
Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter & Pretzel Truffles
Sweet chocolate, creamy peanut butter and salty pretzels create a to-die-for truffle. It’s a little bite of decadence and a special indulgence for the holiday season.—Ashley Wisniewski, Champaign, IllinoisGo to Recipe
Once you start eating this taste-tempting treat, you may not be able to stop! Matzo crackers are topped with buttery caramel, chocolate and slivered almonds…and then baked to perfection. —Sharalyn Zander, Jacksonville, AlabamaGo to Recipe ⓘ