Costs for a candy bar can add up pretty fast, but a little upfront planning can save you a lot of money in the long run. One site I stumbled across estimated most candy bars run roughly $5 per guest. FIVE DOLLARS! If you have 100+ guests, that’s easily over $500 which I’d say is a pretty large chunk of change. So, being the budget-savvy borderline-extreme-couponer that I am, I set off determined to create a candy bar for well under the $5/guest mark.
Tips for Planning Your Wedding Candy Buffet on a Budget
Some of the things you’re going to need are color-coded candy, tongs, scoops, fancy jars, labels & signs plus goodie bags. Depending on your reception location, you may also need a table, table cloths, and backdrop decorations as well.
HOW MUCH CANDY DO I NEED?
Here’s a planning guide I found for determining how many jars of candy to serve, depending on the size of your guest list:
- 1-50 guests: 5 jars candy
- 50-100 guests: 10 jars candy
- 100-150 guests: 15 jars candy
- 150-200 guests: 18 jars candy
- Over 200 guests: 20 jars candy
GOOD PLACES TO BUY BULK CANDY:
CHOOSING YOUR CANDY
When choosing colors, unless you’re going for an “anything goes” look, keep to just 2 or 3 colors for a more polished color scheme.
Buy less expensive candy to fill larger jars, and most expensive candies in smaller jars
Rule of thumb – one bag of candy should fit in a jar – so no need for supersized jars!
If your wedding date allows for it, a great time to stock up on candy is after a holiday. Stores like Target, Meijer, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc. will begin discounting candy the next day anywhere from 30%-50%. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find some 75% -90% off deals! My wedding colors are black & white, and I was able to snag some great deals on white candy after the Christmas (I double checked expiration dates on the boxes to make sure they would be fine for my wedding date, of course!)
Traditional Holiday Candy Colors
Christmas – White, Red, Green, Blue, Gold, Silver
Valentine’s Day – Red, White, Pink
Easter – This is the holiday that generally has the most ‘wedding colors’ and it’s going to be here before you know it!– Yellow, Pink, Purple, Blue, Green, White
Halloween – Black, Orange, Brown, Yellow
In planning your candy list, depending on the number of jars you use, stagger your candy price points. Opt for a few ‘premium’ or more expensive candies. Then, several mid-range treats, and use the bulk of your jars for more budget friendly varieties. This way, you have a span of options for guests.
So far, I’ve collected 4 different varieties of candy and have only spent well under $15 out of pocket! I’d label what I’ve collected as the budget options, so I still have penalty of cash left for more premium options like Rock Candy or Jelly Bellies.
If you have a Meijers store nearby (Midwestern grocery chain, similar to a Super Target or Super Walmart) they have an entire aisle devoted to bulk treats in a variety of colors! Their prices are much more reasonable than most of the online candy sites I’ve found.
As a hint, stores like Target and Walgreens offer their very own in store coupons on different candies and cookies from time to time. You can stack these deals with a manufacturer coupon and a sale for some awesome savings! Plus, in addition to Target’s in-store coupons, they also allow you to use a Cartwheel deal! (Cartwheel + in-store coupon + manufacture coupon + sale/clearance = 4’x the savings!) . When I purchased the M&M’s from Target after Christmas, I used a Target coupon with a manufacturers coupon on top of the clearance find. They came out to just under .30 cents/bag. Although there are red M&M’s in the bag, I can easily sort those out and just keep the white candies for my wedding. If you’re one of the lucky ones near the Meijer stores I mentioned above, they’ll also take Target store coupons! Or, be sure to check Meijer’s mPerk’s for in-store deals.
CHOOSING YOUR JARS FOR THE DISPLAY:
First, check out what you have at home and what other friends and family might be able to loan or even donate to you. It never hurts to ask, right? For my jar quest I had several vases in our basement collecting dust. After a quick cleaning they’re be good to go!
As far as purchasing new jars, I set a price in my mind where I didn’t want to spend more than $2 per jar. Since there is a possibility the jars can get knocked over and broken, I didn’t want a small fortune invested in them. The Dollar Store is a great place to check. Here I grabbed a few plain glass bowls and glass candle sticks. After gluing them together and adding a bow, I ended up with a much fancier looking ensemble!
Next, I made a few stops at garage sales and thrift stores. At a church sale I stumbled upon I found these beauties for just .25 cents each, and the glass fish bowl style containers were $1 finds at a left over sale from my reception hall! The little jar with the glass lid was my big splurge from a thrift store at $2. A little cleaning and they’ll look like new again!
I didn’t limit my jar finds to just basements, thrift stores, or garage sales either. You know those $10 off a $10 purchase coupons you sometimes get in the mail from places like Stein Mart, Kohl’s or JCPenney’s? I put those to good use hunting for finds (I never know what to use the coupons on anyways on but since it’s like free cash, I can’t let them go to waste!). Here’s a few items I found for under $1 after at departments stores after stacking clearance and sale prices with coupons:
In all, I now have 13 jars and spent a total of less than $11! As a little piece of advice, don’t try and buy all of your jars at once. Mine were collected over the span of several months when I would happen across a great buy. Had I waited and purchased every one from a single store, I’m guessing I’d have spent much much more on the jars.
BAGS OR BOXES
Keep in mind, if you give guests a larger treat bag that they have the possibility to fill it with more candy and the more candy each guest can take means higher candy costs! While looking at bag options, I can across several lunch bag sized options which could easily equal one bag of candy in and of itself!
There are tons of Etsy and eBay sites selling food grade glassine bags that I felt would be a great size. By opting to not have a monogrammed bag, or any bags with decorative labeling we’ve saved a little extra cash. My fiancé and I both used a Wrapp gift card for $5 off an Etsy purchase we sent to each other (reference here on how to use Wrapp) and were able to snag two orders of 75 bags for just .88 cents each (So, $1.76 for 150 bags with taxes and shipping! It’s just over a penny a bag).
FYI – the bags I choose were 3-3/4 x 6-1/4 inches and can hold up to ¼ LB.
Going back to the $10/10 purchase coupon, at JCPenney’s in their Martha Stewart housewares area I was able to find clearance scoops on sale for $2.99/set! I stocked up on what was left at my local store, then grabbed a spool of black & white ribbon and two sets of napkins for $1.00 each just to bring my purchase over the $10 threshold. Out of pocket, I paid .27 cents for the bundle!
I also came across an eBay store selling a set of 5 metal ice scoops for $7.58 after shipping. As a hint, search for ‘ice scoops’ or ‘coffee scoops’ instead of ‘candy bar scoops’. The wedding themed ‘candy’ scoop will instantly drive up prices on the identical item!
I did check out what the Dollar Store carried as well. They have plastic tongs that come in sets of 4 in either clear plastic, or silver metallic plastic. I’m hoping to use the ribbon to tie some cute little bows onto the scoops and tongs just to make them look a little less plain. I also plan on picking up a set of tongs, and using them between jars. I don’t see any reason why a single jar must have it’s own serving utensil.
While at JoAnn Fabrics, I stumbled on a clearance deal for label paper punches at $4 each (50% off the $8 clearance price). I plan on doubling the punch stamps not only for the candy bar labels, but also for the escort cards! I have quite a variety of scrapbooking paper and cardstock already at home to use and since my fiancé’s mother is a calligraphist, I’m going to ask her to write the candy names on the labels for me then attach them with a pretty ribbon.
Since I’m opting out of decorating the actual candy bags, I’m going to sift though the basement again for a little basket to decorate and place the bags inside of the basket for guests. I still have plenty of ribbon left over from my JCPenny deal.
Being the extreme couponer that I am, I often get product samples in the mail from time to time. One of which was ply wood squares samples (Random, I know…). But, I plan painting these for signage. I already have the paint and brushes so there won’t be any additional out of pocket costs!
Here’s a run down of my candy bar expenses so far:
- Total jar budget: $11
- Total candy budget already spent: <$15
- Total candy budget projected to spend: <$50
- Total bag budget: $1.76
- Total utensil budget: <$10
- Total label & decoration budget: (Punches, ribbon, paper, signs) $12
Total Candy Bar Budget: $100. Since we’re having just over 100 guests, that ends up being slightly under $1/guest!
I hope these tips have been helpful to you! Anything I’m missing? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Be sure to check out this post: 3 Tips for a Cheaper Candy Buffet
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.