I know a thing or two about this subject — I’ve created many candy buffets and in particular, for my own graduates!

Our candy buffet for Jordan’s high school graduation was a huge success—we had lots of comments that it was the best party of the year because of our candy buffet!

2 years later I created a Nurse-themed candy buffet for Tori’s college graduation and it was also a huge success!

Over the past few years I’ve had lots of my client-moms ask about photos they’ve seen me post on my Instagram and Facebook pages of both Tori and Jordan’s candy buffets, so this year I’ve decided to finally create a blog post dedicated to the things I learned about designing and creating a successful themed candy buffet!

SCROLL DOWN to the very end to see resources I learned about from my own experience, as well as tips and ideas to creating your own candy buffet for your graduate’s party.

By the way—these aren’t the “prettiest” images—they were taken without any thought that I might be sharing them on a blog post. But they will serve to show you some details of what I created for both Jordan’s high school grad party and Tori’s Nurse college themed party:

1/ SELECT YOUR THEME: Obviously this is probably the easiest part because most grad-party themes and colors revolve around the high-school colors. The other options is to create a theme around the college your graduate will be attending.

2/ HOW MUCH CANDY TO ORDER OR PLAN ON: Here’s the thing—you probably don’t need as much candy as shown in most pretty Pinterest images. Even my image, above, was a LOT of candy. But I wanted my candy buffet to “look” the part. So if you want to have only the “right amount” of candy you should have per person, you will probably end up with a very small amount needed for your candy buffet. I personally would opt for “looks” with lots of candy and then have candy bags for sending guests home with it.

General rule of thumb: approximately 4 oz. of candy per guest (50 guests = 12.5 lbs / 75 guests = 18.75 lbs). I wanted more than enough, so I knew I was going to have extra. That’s where the “candy bags  or boxes” for taking candy comes in (see below).

Having a minimum of 7 types of candy will create a pretty and balanced look; having more is better.

3/ CANDY CONTAINERS FOR DISPLAY: I found the BEST glass containers at Home Goods. They have lots of glass candy containers and glass jars that are reasonably priced. I wanted my buffet to look pretty so I purchased several “main pieces” and then filled in the rest with glass jars and containers from the Dollar Tree. You can also find small, square mirrors for the containers to set on at both Home Goods and the 99 cent store/Dollar Tree.

For a pretty display, be sure to get varying heights of containers, and/or pedestals to raise the height of some. Also, don’t forget tongs for unwrapped candy (great place to find these is Party City; they have clear as well as colored tongs varying in size).

4/ GUEST TAKEAWAY CONTAINERS/BAGS: This is really important! I didn’t want to be “stuck” with lots of candy that would ultimately go to waste (or to my waist!), so I purchased cute, themed “goody bags” and set them on the candy buffet. TIP: Be prepared to “encourage” your guests to actually take the candy in the bags! Guests are hesitant to “ruin” the pretty table, or they think they are only supposed to “nibble” on a piece or two. I kept telling our guests to fill a bag (in fact I told them, as they were gathering to leave, that their ticket out the door was a bag of candy! It worked like a charm).

5/ CREATE A PRETTY BACKDROP: If you have a wall to place your table against, you can decorate the wall to match your theme. We had a built-in desk and I decorated the wall behind it with rolls of wrapping paper! With this in mind, you can get as creative with the colors and patterns as you would like! The wall you see here (and ps—the photos aren’t the best but at the time, 4 years ago, I used an older cell phone without the intention of blogging the photos; otherwise they would be much prettier!) was created with 3 rows of paper ran vertical on the wall. The white paper was actually 2 separate rolls of white placed UNDERneath the blue paper roll.

6/ DECORATIONS: Be sure to scroll down for lots of resources. This is the part that really pulls a candy buffet together. I found a great “theme packet” of paper decorations on Etsy and printed out all of the labels, tent cards, water bottle labels, etc. Again, resources and links below. Also, the “confetti on a string” was an etsy custom order and the resource I have below is an excellent place to order your own in your own colors. All you need is the ability to print out the paper items and then cut them out. I did customize mine further in photoshop, but you shouldn’t have to do this as most of the etsy shop links below will allow you to order them with your grad name and year on them.

7/ CUSTOMIZED CANDY: Links below. You can order chocolate bars and kisses with grad names etc, or you can make your own. I printed out labels for kisses and made my own candy bar labels for both Jordan’s party as well as Tori’s Nurse/grad party (photos below). But again, there are lots of resources for this below! TIP: some of the brands have colors that will match your theme! I purchased Hershey “Crunch” bars because the ends of the candy bar paper was “blue”, matching our theme! SMARTIES: I created this label on the computer, measured, cut, adhered to smarties. Link below for how to create these.

8/ OTHER DESERTS BESIDES CANDY: Don’t feel restricted to just candy! I had cupcakes and cake pops together with unexpected things like cotton candy! TIP: putting on a grad party is a lot of work, not to mention an emotional time for mama. If you love to bake, then by all means, bake your cupcakes. Or, cut down on time and call your favorite bake shop (Safeway, Raley’s, Bel Air or bakery) and order them with your themed frosting color. Pop on your cake topper (links below for etsy resources) and call it a party!

9/ CUPCAKE TOPPERS: See link below. I made these from the set I ordered from etsy. But here’s a tip! TIP: Rather than using “sticks” that are suggested at most etsy shops, purchase those cute “straws” in your theme color (the paper straws with patterns, found at Michael’s, Target, Hobby Lobby or links below). Cut the straws in half, flatten the tippy-tip of each and tape your topper onto the flattened tip of the straw. Voila! Cute topper for your cupcakes (see mine above, black and white “stick” is actually a straw).

10/ WATER BOTTLES: See link below. I created the labels from the etsy set but purchased the labels from the link below (removing the existing water bottle label is super easy—then just attached your label over bottle in place of the one it came with) OR…you can order your bottles already labeled.


NOTE: Below are direct resources, many of which I used to order from. But don’t miss visiting my Pinterest “Grad Party” board for lots of ideas on not only “Candy Buffets”, but grad party ideas in general!


Candy resource: Just Candy

Candy resource: Party City Candy Buffet by Color

Candy resource: Oriental Trading Company

Candy resource: The Candy Warehouse

Candy resource: Groovy Candy

Candy resource: Sweet Treat Supply

Candy resource: Nuts Dot Com


Candy containers: Home Goods

Candy containers: Oriental Trading

Candy containers: Pottery Barn

Candy containers: World Market


Grad Bags: Etsy Shop

Takeaway treat bags: Papermart

Black and White Striped Takeaway treat bags: Paper Lantern

Treat bags: Beau Coup


Printables: Etsy Shop

Printables: Etsy Shop

Water bottle labels: Etsy Shop

Water bottle labels2: Etsy Shop

Printables & picks: Etsy Shop

Cupcake Toppers: Etsy Shop

Cupcake Toppers2: Etsy Shop

Glitter Toppers: Etsy Shop

Candy buffet labels: General Index at Etsy 

Hershey’s Kisses labels printables: Etsy

Peel and Stick Hershey’s labels: Etsy

Hershey’s mini chocolate bar printables: Etsy

Full size Hershey customized candy wrappers: Etsy

Party favor stickers: Etsy

Doctor / Nurse themed printables: Etsy

Confetti Garland (for wall behind candy table): Etsy


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