Planning a candy buffet for an event sounds really, really fun (what’s not to love?), but when you get down to business, there are a lot of decisions to be made.
With so many candy types, colors, shapes, textures, sizes—and just as many containers, scoops, labels, and table props to consider—two g’s come to mind: “gulp” and “gasp.”
Enter Amy Atlas …
If you aren’t already familiar with the name, Amy Atlas is the goddess of dessert tables and candy buffets. Her work is like looking at a fashion runway with so much attention paid to color, texture, style, and accessories. (If you need to see to believe, click here.)
With such talent and experience, we turned to Amy to answer frequently asked questions about candy buffets … and dish on her highly anticipated new book.
Candy.com: The customer service team at Candy.com is constantly asked, “How much candy should I buy?” and “Is there a rule of thumb for estimating container capacity?” (i.e., How many pounds of salt water taffy or M&M’s will I need to fill a half-gallon apothecary jar?) How do you calculate quantities for your own events?
Amy Atlas: As a basic rule, I suggest 6 to 8 ounces of candy per guest. However, if you are looking to make a more bountiful display, you may have to order more depending on your design.
Unfortunately, there is no rule of thumb for estimating candy per container. I use the following guidelines, though …
- - Salt water taffy: 1 1/2 lbs per half-gallon container
- Malt balls: 2 1/2 lbs per half-gallon container
- M&M’s: 3 lbs per half-gallon container
Candy.com: When ordering candy for an event, how far in advance do you suggest placing the order?
Amy Atlas: I recommend ordering at least 10 days to two weeks prior to the event to ensure the candy will get there on time and to avoid additional shipping fees. The candy will stay fresh so long as you the candy is kept in the packaging and stored at room temperature.
Candy.com: Should you buy less candy per person if you’re also including cake/cookies/cupcakes on your dessert table?
Amy Atlas: Adding cake/cookies/cupcakes to your dessert spread will round out your dessert table and you’ll probably need less candy. Another factor in determining how much candy you will need is what type of vessels you are using for the candy. If you are using small bowls, then you won’t necessarily have to purchase a lot to make it look pretty.
Candy.com: What are the most practical containers/vessels to use?
Amy Atlas: Containers with wide openings are the most practical so guests can easily access the candy with scoops. I love these containers.
Candy.com: Should you provide a scoop for every container?
Amy Atlas: Yes, you absolutely should have a scoop for each container. You will not want flavors of certain candies mixed with others, especially if food allergies are a concern. Having multiple scoops also helps ensure that guests won’t be waiting for others to finish scooping.
Candy.com: What are the best types of candies to use in a candy buffet?
Amy Atlas: My favorites to use are jelly beans, M&M’s, and malt balls.
Candy.com: What is your favorite candy color palette?
Amy Atlas: I love mixing and matching unexpected color palettes. Currently, I’m loving neon pink and yellow paired with a grayish lavender accent color.
Candy.com: What type of favor bags or boxes do you like to use for guests to take home candy?
Amy Atlas: I often personalize bags like these for the clients to send their guests off with. However, popcorn boxes and muslin pouches are also great containers.
Candy.com: What are some ways to create different heights on a candy buffet, so it’s more eye-appealing?
Amy Atlas: You can use vessels in various heights. Also, think outside the “vessel” and use fun containers that tie into your theme. For a rustic dessert bar, tree trunks can add the perfect amount of height while a travel themed party would look fantastic with small luggage containers.
Candy.com: Do you have any tips for staying organized while planning a candy buffet or dessert table?
Amy Atlas: Create a mockup of the design before the event to get a sense of whether you need to add additional candy/desserts (or if you have planned for too much and you need to scale back). Keep an organized list for when all of your candy and desserts are being delivered and remember to pack candy scoops for the event!
Candy.com: We’re dying for your new book, Sweet Designs: Bake It, Craft It, Style It to be released on April 24! What can you tell us about it?
Amy Atlas: The book is the first book created for making sweets/candy tables. While the pictures are beautiful, it is not intended to be a coffee table book. I created it so people can use it as a reference not only for inspiration, but also as a guide for all of my sweet styling tips. Think of it as a candy table bible. The book has over 100 of my recipes, 75 of my crafting instructions, and is filled with my styling tips. There are more than 250 never-seen-before photos as well!
Amy Atlas photo courtesy of Robert Caplin.
Candy buffet and book cover photos courtesy of Amy Atlas.