Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shabby Chic Pink and Green Baby Shower Candy Buffet

I describe myself as an all-purpose craft geek and I really do like to dabble in a little bit of everything.  In addition to "traditional" crafting where you have a final product that you've made and can now maybe wear or decorate with, I enjoy applying my creative energies to parties as well.  Over the next few posts, I'll highlight some of the parties that I've done over the years for my loved ones.  I think I'll start with this baby shower for my best friend.  I wasn't able to be as involved in the planning as I would have liked, since I live 300 miles away from my BFF - sniffle, sniffle, but I was tasked with sourcing and assembling the candy buffet.  And it was super fun.  And expensive.  But mostly fun.

BFF wanted a shabby-chic shower with soft pinks and greens, so I immediately set out to find candies in those shades.  Pink was easy.  Green was... less easy.  I ended up finding candy in all sorts of places - from Target to Walmart to Ollies (which is a rough-and-tumble discount store) to the Dollar Tree to local amazing grocery store Wegmans.  My biggest challenge, other than finding green candy, was balancing the need for large amounts of candy to make a nice, full display, with balancing the budget.  Candy buffets can get real expensive real quick.  Here were some of my strategies to keep costs down and impact up.

Don't limit yourself to just candy:  I wanted lots of height on my table and one of the 1st purchases was a 2-ft tall vase on clearance at A.C. Moore.  Once I realized how many M&M's it would take to fill that vase, however, I was a little discouraged.  But then I found pink marshmallows at Walmart - score!  At $1 a bag, they were a steal and it only took me about 6 bags to fill the vase.  Big impact, lots of height, little $$.  And they were a very popular item with the kids attending the shower.  I also filled in on the cheap with cookies.  Pink wafer cookies and pink and white frosted animal crackers gave big bang for the buck.  Don't hesitate to venture beyond the candy aisle.

Get off your high horse:  I'll admit it - I'm kind of snooty about eating food from the Dollar Store.  I just don't like to do it.  But I will say that I had some of my best finds there.  Pretty green butter mints and marshmallow twists in soft pink and green.  They looked great, tasted good, and didn't break the bank.  Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone a little bit.

Keep an eye out everywhere you go:  So I went to the Dollar Store looking for containers and scoops and ended up finding some of my prettiest and most unexpected candies.  This was  a great lesson for me and thereafter, I made it a point to look for candy at every store I entered.

 It's OK if everyone doesn't get one of everything:  This was hard for me - my inner 2-year-old wanted everything to be fair and so that meant that all 70 guests should get to have a big swirly lollipop if they wanted one.  But guess what?  This is not economically sound.  Buy a handful of the big-ticket items, assemble the buffet, and wash your hands of it.  Only 3 people get a lollipop.  So what.

Don't be snobby about your choices:  I really like chocolate and I really couldn't care less about any other kind of candy.  But this buffet isn't about me and just because I don't like lollipops doesn't mean that they shouldn't make an appearance.  So don't let your preferences hold you back!  I had plenty of chocolate, but  I also had dum-dums, jolly ranchers, and watermelon sours and they were all eaten.  Your pass-up is someone else's favorite, I guarantee it.

 It's OK if another color slips in there:  I was kind of obsessed with only having pink and green, but for certain candies, other colors came as part of the deal.  The pink and green non-pareils also had yellow in the mix.  Did I want to handle them and pull out all the yellow ones - um, I kind of did want to, but I stopped myself because Ewww!  That would be gross and obsessive, so I refrained.  And you know what?  I think  the display was prettier with a little yellow mixed in.  Ditto with the swirly lollipops.  The closest I could get was pink, green, and lavender - and it totally worked.  I DID however sequester all the blue Hershey Kisses.  And I DID eat them all on the sly.  All in the name of color-coordination of course.

It's OK if you can't afford to make it perfect:  I know that there are some amazing, perfect parties out there.  That's not really what I do.  I live in the real world and have a budget, which means that I have finite resources.  This means that I have to make trade-offs.  I tend to err on the side of taste, as in it has to taste good.  So that means that more money goes to the food and there's less left over for containers and table coverings.  To that end, I had to compromise and use things that I all ready had, like glass casserole dishes, or things that were cheap, like plastic tablecloths.  I couldn't afford linens long enough to reach the floor, so I used dollar store plastic tablecloths on the bottom and put a short length of clearance fabric over the top.  Had I covered the whole table in fabric, I would have spent $20.  Using my low-brow method, It cost me $5.  And it did the job.  So don't beat yourself up because your stuff isn't perfect.  I don't think that most people are thinking, "Ugh, is that a plastic tablecloth?"  They are most likely thinking, "CANDY" and are focused on trying to get to the swirly lollipops before they are gone.

It came together really well and was a lot of fun to work on.  I look forward to doing another one some day!

And some bonus pics for you - I can't take credit for this part, but the other girls working on the shower had the idea to decorate the ceiling with individually hand-decorated Chinese paper umbrellas.  It was so pretty and creative.  Kudos, G., A., S., and L.!

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