Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Simple Dollar Store Dessert Buffet

Candy and dessert buffets seem to be everywhere right now. But you don't have to pay big bucks and have custom designed cookies and fancy chocolates to pull off the effect. Here's the breakdown of a great dessert buffet that you can make from dollar store items in a fraction of the time.

1. TABLE Pick a long or rectangular table as your base. Cover with a plastic table cloth to fit theme color. Pick a back drop for the table. A complimentary colored tablecloth or bed sheet, a line of helium balloons, paper accents, a string of flags and frames work well.

2. CENTERPIECE Choose a large centerpiece as a focal point. If you have a cake, place it on a cake stand in the middle. A cupcake tree will work as well. A party tree is an easy idea that can be catered to any theme. Just spray paint dried branches to match the theme color. Place in a container and decorated with small items or glitter. A large floral bouquet works well too.

3. DISH WARE What makes a dessert buffet elegant is in the manner in which everything is displayed. Symmetry is key. Try to balance each side of the table with the same heights and shapes of containers. Also, placing anything on a pedestal makes it seem more elegant. You can make your own hurricane glasses, cake plates and tiered serving dishes with glass and silver tray and plates and glass candlesticks and upside down ice cream glasses super glued together. (See examples below). You'll want to grab a few plain plates and trays too. I saw white rectangular sushi plates at the Dollar Tree that would be excellent. Keep the dishes in the same scheme, all black, all white, clear and silver etc. Levels are important. If the display is too flat, use boxes wrapped in gift wrap to give it height and add to your visual theme.

4. DESSERTS Once you have the table set up, you just need to fill it. here's some quick ideas that can be catered to any theme using dollar store foods. You don't need a lot of each. Variety is the idea. Think 6-8 of each item for an average sized party:

*PUDDING CUPS- Simply open cups of pre-packaged chocolate or tapioca pudding. Pop in a plastic spoon, top with whip cream (if desired) and an unwrapped chocolate accent (such as chocolate bunnies or hearts). Display 6 cups on a tray or directly on the table with small napkins under each cup.

*GELATIN CUPS- Same idea as the pudding cups but top with themed gummies. If your dollar store doesn't have these, make your own in clear glasses with a pkg of Jell-O.

*SUCKERS- Suckers can be really neatly displayed. One idea is to fill a lipped tray with floral foam. Cover foam in cling wrap. Neatly line up suckers by poking them in the foam. Cover exposed foam with loose candy like M&Ms or jelly beans. Pots for plants work too. Another idea is a sucker tree. Grab a floral cone this time and cover with suckers. Than wrap from top to bottom in ribbon, going between the sucker sticks and covering the exposed foam.

*MARSHMALLOW POPS- Very simple to make. Place a large marshmallow on a length of bamboo skewer. Dip the top in melted chocolate or a dab of frosting. Accent with a single M&M n your theme color or candy sprinkles. Display in the same manner as the suckers.

*LOOSE CANDY- Loose candy works well in wide mouthed containers like the ones you find in the candle section. Fish bowls work great too. If the candy is not individually wrapped, make sure to stick small scoops or soup spoons in each container. Twizlers and long twisted suckers look great in tall hurricane glasses.

*COOKIES- Any cookie looks good lined up on trays.

* FUDGE- check out this recipe for 2 ingredient fudge!

*CUPCAKES- you can make your own using dollar store liners, cake mix and frosting, but to save time, just get some plain ones from the grocery store. Top with themed favors, rings or candy rings from the dollar store.

*CANDY BARS- Regular or miniature candy bars are a great addition. Get ones with paper sleeves like Hershey bars and remove wrapper leaving the silver paper. Recover with custom printed candy bar wrappers or scrapbook or wrapping paper that fits your theme.

5. TABLE ACCENTS- Great table displays will have a color or pattern theme. Use scrapbook paper, ribbon and wrapping paper to pull in the theme. Cover box risers in wrapping paper. place scapbook paper under dishes or cut to fit as tray liners. Use ribbon to add color themed bows to the pedestals of the dishes and to wrap lipped trays. Many people like to label items too. Cut small shapes from white tag board or index cards. Or use pre-made place setting cards from the wedding isle. You can place them on the table in front of each dish or loop them around tall containers with ribbon (securing them with a dab of glue or tape in the back so they don't slide down.

That's it! You now have a very professional looking dessert buffet. Try it for other displays too like party foods and snacks, cheese with crackers and fruit, chocolate only, cookies, wedding favors, or even non food decor like a collection of small gourds and pumpkins for Halloween or a collection of baby items for a baby shower. Get creative!

Break Down of Costs (save money by using things you have on hand already):

Table cloths, backdrop and accets $5
Centerpiece 5
Dishes and serving trays, scoops 20
Tags, ribbon, paper 5
6 geletin cups with gummies 3
6 pudding cups with chocolates 3
marshmallow pops display 5
suckers display 4
candy bars with wrappers 2
1 kind of cookie 1
3 kinds of loose candy 3
cupcakes with toppers 4