Last week I posted about how to make candy party favors for kids. With the recent popularity of candy buffets (and my office full of candy) this was the perfect time to try making a kid-friendly candy buffet.

I’ve talked about candy before. It’s beautiful in centerpieces and a great way to incorporate theme colors into an event. And of course it also makes great favors. I still love the idea of giving candy to your guests to take home, and a candy buffet lets them pick and choose their favorites.

I decided to make a mini kid-friendly candy buffet in green and blue, and here are a couple things I recommend doing (or NOT doing) to stay within budget. First of all, do not go overboard on the candy. I know, it’s tempting to buy dozens of bags, but it will be expensive AND your guests’ parents will not be happy with you! If you’re having 5 kids at your party, aim for 5-7 bags of candy.

Next, DO NOT buy anything except for the candy. For this mini buffet, we are using glassware (and props…just wait, I’ll explain) that you already have. Start by collecting parfait glasses, trifle dishes, ramekins, apothecary jars, or candy dishes from your kitchen.

Then take a large serving platter and fit an assortment of glasses and dishes in different sizes on the platter. If you have 10 or more guests, you can set up two platters. Use a larger apothecary jar or storage jar as a focal point. Then fill each dish and glass with a different type of candy.

For my blue and green theme, I used blue and green m&ms, Kisses with blue wrappers, blue raspberry gumdrops, blue and green Good ‘n Fruity candies, and green apple gummy rings. I also filled a large jar with lollipops. Use different sizes and shapes of spoons to serve the candies.

You can choose when and where you serve this buffet: since it’s set up on a platter, it’s portable. If you want to keep it as a surprise for the end of your party, simply “hide” the candy until just before the parents arrive. Then set your tray (or trays) on the table along with some of the favor boxes and bags we talked about last time. Help each child to select his or her favorites to take home.

What about the “props” I mentioned earlier? This is where you can get creative! Again, DO NOT BUY ANYTHING. Instead, check out your kids’ rooms and “steal” some of their toys. Wash well with warm soapy water and arrange on the table along with your parfait glasses and apothecary jars to make a larger tablescape. For example, I borrowed my daughter’s tea set and filled the tea cups with candies, then made a lollipop bouquet and tucked it into the teapot.

My son’s dump trucks made great candy dishes, too. Front loaders and pickup trucks also work well. Park them all over the table and put them to work moving all of your goodies! A sandbox toy set would be super for a beach-theme party (okay, I’ll let you buy one of these if yours is too sandy to be washed!). Use the trucks and sand pails to hold the candies, and the mini sand shovels to serve them.

Look for toys that fit with your party theme. If your child loves Legos, for example, use them to build your candy “containers” and line with food-safe plastic bags or boxes. There are so many creative ways to use dishes and “props” that you already have; there’s no need to spend a lot to make a really fun candy buffet!

Remember last time when we talked about choosing safe candies:

• Make sure candies are age-appropriate. For example, hard candies are not appropriate for children under the age of 5.

• Consider food allergies. Many children are allergic to peanuts or tree nuts, so make sure you are offering options that are safe for your guests.

• Some children are sensitive to artificial colors and flavors.

Again, we think these are great reasons to select an assortment of different candies and serve them up as favors that kids can take home!

Of course I also like the idea of serving up sweetie lip balms in my candy buffet! Our new Blue Raspberry lip balm fits perfectly with the blue-green theme we’ve set up, and joins Green Apple, Orange Cream, Grape Soda, Lemon-Lime, and Melontastic flavors in our new Candy Jar Lip Balm Collection. For our blue-green party, we filled a jar with Blue Raspberry and Green Apple balms and added a “scoop” to favor boxes or bags along with the candies.

What do you think? Have you tried making a candy buffet? What types of candies do you like to use? Please share your thoughts!

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