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Cake, Cupcakes, Candy Calculators for a Dessert Buffet

Thinking of doing cupcake and/or cookie dessert bar?   What  size cake you should order?   Wondering how much candy is needed to fill your buffet containers?   How many M&M’s are there in a pound?     Here is a collection of charts, tips, templates, and calculators to help you with your dessert bar or edible favors.
~ Happy Planning ~

Do you want to buy a cake stand and are not sure how big your cake will be?  Check with your baker, but this should give you a good estimate on the size tiers needed to feed the guest list.  Remember:  An option to save money is to have a smaller decorated cake and then a kitchen cake (a sheet cake made by the same baker in the same flavor as the displayed cake.)  No one will know if their piece of cake came from the displayed cake or the sheet cake once it is all cut up.


How Much Candy Needed for a Candy Buffet????
# of Guests x 3(oz) then divide the answer by 16(oz) = Total lbs you should buy.
example 155 guests:
155 x 3= 465, then 465/16 = 29lbs of candy (for kilos divide by 2.2 = 13kg)

Some say 1/4 LB per guest, others say 1/2 LB per guest. But it’s all about the way your candy looks. Plan by how you want the display to look, not how many guests are coming.

Take your candy buffet bags/containers that the guests will be taking home with them to your local candy store and fill them the types of candy you will have for your event. Then weigh them. Multiply by how many guests, then you will get an idea of the pounds.  Or check out some of the calculators below for how much candy a container can hold.

Don’t forget to check out your local dollar store, garage sales, and thrift stores for deals on containers!

This is a Great Link for Candy Buffet – Pictures, Tips, Ideas, Links, How to….

Candy Calculator

How much candy can these buffet jars, bowls, and cylinders hold?  Check out this calculator!  Pick the size and shape of your container.  Then fill it with Candy: hard candy, wrapped candy, chocolate balls, chocolate covered goodies, gum balls, chocolate hearts, kisses, licorice bites, pretzels, rock candy, taffy, jordan almonds, m&m’s, jelly bellies, espresso beans, nonpareils, etc.

Example of a 2×2 box filled with common candies.


Use this calculator by favorideas to estimate the amount of candy needed to fill your 2×2 favor boxes.  It defaults to the maximum number of candies the box can fit.  Remember, you don’t need to fill them to the top!  You can add some filler in the box to reduce the amount of candy needed.

Did you know there is about 530 M&M’s to a pound?
Check out this cheat chart for more estimates.

Thinking of doing a Dessert Bar?


CUPCAKE Calculator:

COOKIE Calculator:


Candy (AKA Sugar Coma) Sources:
This site has a giant list of places to buy candy.

This site has over 1,000 images of candy buffets for inspiration.

Bags and Containers for your candy buffet

DIY container template – check out the trapezoid box, take-out box, scallop box and others.

Planning Food & Drinks – Alcohol Calculator

Stock your own Bar – Alcohol Calculator – shopping list

Servings per container type:

  • Wine 750 Bottle: 5 standard glasses (5 oz)
  • Wine 1.5 Bottle: 10 standard glasses
  • Sparkling for a toast: 8 toast portions (3 oz)
  • Liquor 750 Bottle: 17 standard drinks or cocktails (1.5 oz liquor)
  • Liquor 1.75 Bottle: 41 standard drinks or cocktails
  • Beer: 1 Bottle or can is one serving
  • Beer ½ keg: This is 7.5 gallons which is 80, 12 oz servings
  • Beer keg: This is 15.5 gallons or 165, 12 oz servings

On the average, expect guests to drink 2 drinks the first hour and 1 each hour thereafter. And, people drink more when the weather is warm.  Don’t forget to buy ice, water, and non-alcoholic beverages.

The general rule of thumb is that:

  • 50% will prefer WINE
  • 30% will prefer BEER
  • 20% will prefer MIXED DRINKS

If you do not anticipate serving mixed drinks at your event, then you should plan on 60% of your guests consuming wine and 40% beer.  *If your crowd is 20-somethings, lean more towards beer.   Note: if it is hot then no one/almost no one will drink red wine, and beer consumption will rise. Try to plan accordingly.  This site has an interesting calculator to play with the percentages, but when they give you the results, they also promote their product to encourage you to buy from them.

Check out this site.  There are many interesting calculators all in one spot! ex:

Evite Drink Calculator

Evite Drink Calculator
This calculator gives an estimate for how much beer/wine/liquor  you will need.  Enter how long the party is, the estimated drinking patterns of your guests, and what you will be serving.  *Be sure to click the alcohol name if the check boxes are not appearing.
This calculator lets you put in a guest range, what you are serving, and the time of day for the party.
This calculator lets you select a guest range, the type of drinkers, the number of drinks, AND the price of the alcohol so that you get an estimated Total Bar Cost.
This one has soft drinks in the calculation.

This one has water and soft drinks in the calculation.

“Assume 1 glass of wine per hour per guest. Each 750ml bottle has ~5 glasses
So for 100 guests and a 4 hour wedding reception, the calculation would be:

100 guests x 4 hours x 1 glass/hour = 400 glasses
400 glasses / 5 glasses per bottle = 80 bottles of wine
80/2 = 40 bottles of white and 40 bottles of red”
If you think only half of your guests will drink wine maybe do 18 red and 22 white.


Are you thinking of doing a sparkling wine toast?
100 guests / 6 glasses per 750mL bottle = ~ 17 bottles

Don’t forget, it is
12 bottles = 1 case

Tips from Martha Stewart.

Do you feel all these calculators estimate too much?  Have more questions about a limited bar on a budget?  Check out this blog for More great tips!


Has a sample Stock the Bar shopping list for 100 people


How Many Drinks??? – Stock the bar list figured for a 3 to 3 1/2-hour party – adjust as needed

Planning to make your own food?
**** Be Very careful with temperatures if you do go this route ****

How much food??? – calculator for quantities needed – Food planning charts

CUPCAKE Calculator:

COOKIE Calculator:

PLEASE READ this food safety link – FAQ to avoid food poisioning

Recipe ideas to feel all those people….