Dessert tables and candy bar stations are one of the most popular requests we receive from our baby shower clients. These sweet treat displays serve as a fabulous decorative focal point and provide an opportunity to highlight the theme and color scheme of the event. Follow along as we walk you through our DIY guideline to styling the perfect dessert table using our recent nautical themed baby shower at The Gem Saloon in NYC!
Step 1: Select Your Sweets
The first (and most important) item on our checklist is deciding on the treats you plan to serve! Consult with the mommy-to-be and ask if there are any special desserts, candy or flavors she would like to incorporate. Our client and mom-to-be, Shana, requested a variety of bite sized pastries and candy including mini cakes, cupcakes, macaroons, custom cookies, jelly beans, M&Ms, Reese’s mini peanut butter cups and, her favorite, Sweedish Fish. Having a selection of different types of desserts is a great concept, not only visually, but it also provides a little something for everyone to enjoy! To create a cohesive aesthetic, we coordinated each item to the event color scheme of navy blue, white, beige, and sky blue. We shared our event design board with our friend and owner Lauren at A Simple Cake who created the amazing mini desserts that matched PERFECTLY with our styled table! When purchasing your desserts and candy, be sure to do so after you have the final guest count for the event to avoid over ordering (and spending!). If you have 30 guests, make sure to order at least that amount of each pastry item so each guest can have one. In regards to candy, typically one 4-5 pound bag of each type will be more than sufficient. We recommend sourcing bulk candy from vendors like Candy Warehouse and Bulk Candy Store because of their wide variety of options and colors.
Step 2: Serveware & Display
Once the dessert and candy orders are placed, the next step is choosing the appropriate display and serve ware items accordingly. Variety is also important in selecting these items so utilize an assortment of glassware, serving platters, bowls and stands in different shapes and sizes to create a visually interesting display. We used separate glass apothecary jars to hold each individual type of candy and white milk glass cake stands and platters for the pastry items. Although we were not serving cake, the cake stands provided an elevated surface which is a nice contrast in height to the platters displayed below. Don’t be afraid to play around with the arrangement by alternating size, height and color. We didn’t have an exact layout for this dessert table before the event so we made adjustments to the display until it looked just right. Sometimes the best designs are unplanned! Don’t forget about candy scoops, spoons or toothpicks for serving as well. We used silver spoons which we tied with beige rope to add a nautical touch.
Helpful Tip: If all of the desserts don’t seem to fit on your platters or the display becomes cluttered, put out what you can and replenish as needed. Store any extras underneath the table or somewhere close by to access for quick and easy refills!
Step 3: Signage
Personalized signage is a great way to keep a theme and color scheme apparent throughout all elements of an event. Draw attention to your dessert table by creating custom signage for this area as well. Print or make a handwritten a sign that reads ‘Dessert Bar’ and frame on the table. Signage is also a great filler for empty space if your display is looking a little bare. Etsy is a great resource for DIY printable and custom options. Sometimes guests are apprehensive and shy away from ‘messing up’ a beautifully decorated dessert table. Encourage guests to indulge with a cute saying like our handwritten sign, ‘Ahoy, please take some sweets and enjoy!’. This custom watercolor and hand calligraphy dessert bar sign, along with all of the custom signage for this event, was made by the fabulous and unbelievably talented Mary Kate Moon! Go even further into detail and label each dessert item display with a small place card, identifying the ingredients or flavor.
Step 4: Decorative Accessories
Dessert tables are often the focal point of an event so it’s always a good idea to add some fun details and decorative accents to highlight the theme and color palette. Weather it’s small detail accents or larger prop items, there are many creative ways to incorporate some pizzazz into the display. For our rustic, nautical inspired table we sourced some awesome large props (life saver, driftwood and lanterns) from one of our local NJ vendors, Shore Chic. Cakes are commonly used for a centerpiece but since we did not have one for this event, we chose a vintage lifesaver instead. This was a perfect nautical prop for our table design, which also served as a backdrop. I love driftwood and found this 5ft long piece that fit perfectly across the table. We recycled an old navy blue and white bunting banner to hang inside-out in front of the table. The reverse side is more muted than the front so it was a better match to our color palette. A navy blue ceramic starfish and white shell served as great accent pieces and we had an extra flower arrangement left over to fill in an empty space.
Helpful Tip: Layout or ‘stage’ your table a day or two before your event so you have an idea where things should be arranged in advance. This allows time to figure out what looks best and determine the supplies and decorative accents needed for efficient day-of setup.
Step 5: Treat Bags & Boxes
We know all about pregnancy cravings, but let’s be honest, the mommy-to-be probably doesn’t want to be tempted by pounds of leftover candy and dessert. Even if your guests have helped themselves to a treat during the event, encourage them to take some home in a treat bag or box for their significant other or children (or maybe a second helping!?). Order take-home bags or boxes according to the size of your desserts and be sure to have a few extra just in case. For Your Party and Paper Mart are great online vendors that offer custom and personalized packaging options. For our nautical baby shower we decorated plain white gable boxes with an anchor stamp and hand written ‘thank you’ on the front of each box.
Dessert Table Essentials: