The Ultimate Guide to Lolly Buffets and Candy Carts

Right, straight out of the gate we’re going to say that the terms ‘lolly’ and ‘candy’ are used interchangeably through this guide. Basically, here in Australia we call pretty much any type of candy “lollies”, whereas we know overseas it’s generally called candy…unless you’re in Britain of course, where they call them “sweets”. Confused yet?

With that out of the way, lets get going.

What is a Lolly Buffet?

Lolly buffets are a really popular, low maintenance way of allowing guests at an event to help themselves to lollies throughout the duration of the event.

Much like food at a buffet restaurant, all of the lollies are set out in various containers and really the sky is the limit in terms of how much imagination you add to make the lolly buffet really stand out. Here’s an example of a table-top one produced for a wedding that we particularly like for its elegance and teaming with the floating candles at the back:

 Image Credit: Elizabeth Anne Designs (www.elizabethannedesigns.com)

Image Credit: Elizabeth Anne Designs (www.elizabethannedesigns.com)

What is a Candy Cart?

First made popular in the United Kingdom around 7 or 8 years ago, candy carts are a really attractive way to display a lolly buffet and make a real feature at an event…but then we would say that as we are probably a bit biased!

But the fact that there are entire businesses devoted to making and selling lolly carts for 300GBP ($550AUD) just goes to show you how big they’ve become!

A candy cart will generally be styled to be fairly vintage looking and they hark back to olden-day marketplace carts that were traditionally used to sell goods from.

 A first birthday Little Lolly Cart set up in Manning Park, Perth

A first birthday Little Lolly Cart set up in Manning Park, Perth

Are All Candy Carts the Same?

Not all candy carts are created equal and the sort you need really depends on the type of event you are holding and whether you intend to use it lots of times.

At the Little Lolly Cart, the candy carts we hire are custom-made, hand-crafted from high quality pine timber and are capable of collapsing into a 120cm X 70cm X 15cm space and can be fully rebuilt in less than 15 minutes, but that’s because we never know what constraints we might face in terms of access to venues when we arrive to set them up.

However, its completely possible to obtain a decent-sized MDF cart from the internet for less than the equivalent of $250. These will work great if you need them for just a couple of events, but eventually due to being manufactured from MDF they will begin to show signs of wear and tear. And don’t forget you have to find somewhere to store it after!

Again, we’re biased so take this with a pinch of salt, but we think that if you’re having an event like a wedding where you are looking to make a statement or work into an elegant setting, a real-wood candy cart looks better.

And just so you know, at Little Lolly Cart we offer the option of hiring just the cart, so that you can do all of the creative work yourself, without the expense of buying your own cart.

 We also have an option to hire glassware with the cart - you just do the lollies yourself.

We also have an option to hire glassware with the cart - you just do the lollies yourself.

Picking The Right Lollies

We don’t want to be the party-poopers here, but you need to hold your horses! Before you even start thinking about what types of lollies or candy to pick, there’s a really important step that you need to take care of first…

…Work out how much you need!

The amount of lollies or candy you need will really determine how many different types of lollies you can select for your lolly buffet. For example, if you’ve got hundreds of guests you’ll need a lot of candy and therefore you can probably go crazy with lots of different varieties to fill the jars.

But for smaller events, just imagine how silly spreading a dozen different varieties of lollies across twelve jars would look if there’s just a tiny amount of each.

A general rule of thumb is to allow anywhere between 100 and 200grams per guest. At Little Lolly Cart, we guarantee that you get at least 100 grams of lollies per guest, but generally we go for impact and making an impression over counting every last gram; this often means our customers get way more than the 100grams per guest.

For example, here’s a basic setup we did for a corporate event that was to cover 50 guests. In the end we had over 8kgs of lollies in the jars because the client had selected heavier lollies (e.g giant snakes, sherbet lemons and rock candy). Using 5kgs would have meant the overall effect would’ve been lots of half-full jars…not a good look!

candy-cart-corporate-lollies-value.JPG

Ok, now you have permission to get to the bit you’ve been waiting for: actually choosing the lollies!!!

We obviously can’t tell you what to pick (where’s the fun in that?!) but if we can only offer you two pieces of advice it’s this:

  1. Think about your guests.

    If you’ve got kids attending, don’t go for flavours that might be unusual or “too adult” like coffee, aniseed etc. At least make sure there are a few options to appeal to most people.

    Side note: also consider making up a special bag of lollies for anyone who has specific dietary requirements such as gluten-free.

  2. Make sure you consider the environment that your candy buffet will be held in.

    For example, if you’re going to be outdoors in the middle of summer (especially here in Perth, Western Australia!), those chocolate covered Violet Crumble pieces might not be the best idea!

Picking Your Lolly Display Containers

Here at Little Lolly Cart, we use glassware of all shapes and sizes when putting together our lolly cart packages and that’s because everyone can see what is in the jars which makes it very high impact on a visual level. They are also practical because they can be washed, reused and are very sanitary - something we take very seriously.

In fact, we love our glassware so much that we’ve made sure we’ve got dozens and dozens and dozens of jars to suit all possible needs and candy buffet configurations. Don’t believe us, take a look at this:

little-lolly-cart-candy-buffet-jars.png

That said, we’re pretty sure that you could let your imagination run wild and use anything from hand-crafted wooden boxes with images of the contents on each box, through to decorated plant pots. Or how about this one from Candy Crazy Homestead where they’ve used wicker baskets which would be ideal for an easter-themed party:

 Image credit: http://candy-crazy.homestead.com/index.html

Image credit: http://candy-crazy.homestead.com/index.html

Decorating Your Candy Buffet

Much like selecting your containers, the sky really is the limit as to how you can decorate your lolly buffet, although we recommend tying it in to an overall theme that your event has just to make sure it fits in and doesn't look odd.

It might be as simple as tying in to a colour theme for a wedding or as elaborate as pulling it all around a children’s birthday theme like pirates or princesses. Here’s an example of a halloween themed lolly cart that we put together:

 Our Halloween-themed candy cart

Our Halloween-themed candy cart

We made sure to switch up the canopy to fit the theme and we even offer the option of creating a custom-made canopy to our customers as changing this can completely alter the appearance of the cart.

We also got hold of some simple yet effective props such as spiders and bones which begin to make it pop. We even went one further this time and did away with the glassware!

Remember what we were saying above about coming up with alternatives? Well for this one we found some amazing plastic cauldrons and halloween themed bowls that really finished the whole thing off nicely.

So the trick is to take a step back and think about the overall impression you are trying to make, whether that is an understated splash of colour or a complete all out assault on the senses like the one above…both approaches can be equally effective as this simple, yet eye-catching multi-colour driven birthday cart that we prepared illustrates:

Our gallery is full of examples of different ways we’ve styled our carts.

What Else Do I Need for a Lolly Buffet?

There’s a few extra bits and pieces you’ll need to get hold of if you aren’t hiring a cart from a professional company. These include:

  • Tongs

  • Scoops

  • Lolly Bags (noodle boxes are also a good alternative!)

And depending on exactly what sort of event you’re holding, you may also need to consider things like an information sign containing information about allergens in the lollies (e.g nuts, gluten, milk etc), food handling certifications and public liability insurance in case anything should happen to your guests whilst using the buffet or candy cart.

Needless to say, if you choose to hire your candy cart either as a stand-alone or part of a package, any reputable company should provide these at no extra cost.

In summary…

To have a great lolly buffet or candy cart, planning is the main thing:

  1. Know how many people you are catering for

  2. Think about the environment your buffet will be in when selecting lollies

  3. Get a good variety of lollies to ensure everyone finds something they like

  4. If using a candy cart for a one-off event, consider hiring as it is likely to be more cost-effective

  5. Try to tie the lolly buffet to the theme of your event, either with colours, props or both

  6. Don’t forget ancillary items like bags and scoops

  7. If engaging a company to take care of your lolly buffet, ensure they have adequate food handling and labelling measures and insurance in place.

We hope the information above is useful and if you happen to be in Perth, Western Australia and want to know more about our Lolly Carts, please take a look at our birthday, wedding, corporate and cart-only hire packages or contact us to discuss your requirements.