A “Sweet Sailing” theme is just the thing at a beach-side wedding reception for a couple in love with the sea. Taking center stage is a charming candy table set up like a fun day at the beach—jaunty straw hat and all! Awash in the varied blues and sandy tones of the seaside it overflows with sweet treats presented in seashell trays, glass vases, even playful pails. What a clever, appealing, and scrumptious way to engage one’s guests, while saving on the expense of elaborate floral decorations or a grand wedding or bridal shower cake. And believe it or not, the entire display is as fun—and easy—to make as it looks.
Materials to Create Your Nautical Sweets Table
Start the project by finding materials for the main display:
1. Styrofoam cylinders, round boxes, or canisters (in graduated sizes)
2. 1″ thick Styrofoam board
3. Sinamay or other natural-fiber cloth
4. Handmade or construction paper (depends on color scheme)
5. Glass cylinders in varying sizes (or vases or jars in different styles and shapes)
6. Small beach pails
7. Table that will be large enough for the whole setting
8. Aqua-colored table cloth
For the decorations:
Look for palm leaves, bamboo or reed sticks, chocolate brown acrylic paint, candy scoops, or toy beach shovels, heart-shaped sinamay favor boxes – approx. 10-12, aqua-colored organza wraps – approx. 10-12, seashell trays – approx. 6, straw hat, assortment of seashells and starfishes, pebbles, green raffia, and ring pillow (optional).
For the treats:
Obtain an assortment of candies, chocolates, and cookies that suit the color and mood of the beach theme.
Additional materials needed:
Use scissors, glue, aqua-colored card stock, gold marker pen, tealight-size glass bowl, sand, assortment of small twigs, brown craft paper, and satin ribbon (aqua and olive green).
Here are the steps to follow:
Step 1: Prepare a nautical banner – To welcome party guests “aboard,” cut the aqua-colored card stock in the form of a windblown banner—a la Love Boat. Write out the party’s theme with a gold marker, and then trace a gold border around the sign. Attach this mini banner with glue to two twigs, and stand these upright in the tealight-size glass bowl filled with sand. Use a pretty seashell to make sure it stays in place.
Step 2: Assemble the tiered stand – Now for some construction skills. Take the styrofoam cylinders, round boxes, or canisters and cover them with sinamay or any natural-fiber cloth. Cut a circular “platform” from 1″ thick Styrofoam board, and cover the sides with sinamay and the top with handmade paper. Stack the cylinders with the largest as the base. Glue the tiers together, place the platform at the very top, and position the finished centerpiece stand on the display table.
Creative hint: In place of sinamay cloth, natural twine can be glued around each tier to mimic the coils of rope aboard ship!
Step 3: Dress up the cylindrical glass vases – Ready to start decorating? Wrap the glass vases in brown craft paper and attach bands of aqua-colored satin ribbon around each one, securing the ribbon with glue. Position the decorated vases on either side of the tiered display stand, with palm leaves and bamboo or reed sticks in the taller ones. Top the smaller ones with a layer of colorfully-wrapped taffy candies—just waiting to be eaten.
An alternative: Although cylindrical vases are easiest to work with, any shape or size of vase or jar will do. Just be creative in applying the aqua-and-sand color scheme to them.
Step 4: Decorate the beach pails – Remember collecting shells in plastic beach pails as a child? Well, this time the pails will hold sweets! Paint the plastic pails (inside and out) with chocolate brown acrylic paint, and wrap their handles in olive green satin ribbon. Set these to one side of the display stand, and fill them to overflowing with candies and chocolates in gold foil and other colorful wrappers for a playful, yummy look. Have the candy scoops on hand for guests to help themselves to the goodies.
Step 5: Prepare favors wrapped in organza – Fill the heart-shaped favor boxes with an assortment of tempting treats. Wrap each one in a 17″ aqua organza circle, then position them surrounding the base of the tiered display stand. Their lovely aqua color adds to the table decor—almost like waves gently lapping at a dock—before the favors are taken home by guests.
Step 6: Set out lovely candy trays – Mmmmm, more treats! Fill the seashell trays with candies of one’s choice. White Jordan almonds are ideal as their neutral colors blend in elegantly with the entire display. If these will be given as guest favors, add a small favor tag to each tray with a saying like “Sweet sailing days ahead.”
Thoughtful touch: If unwrapped candies are chosen, make the thoughtful gesture of lining the trays with a circle of wax paper or placing each sweet in a fluted paper liner.
Step 7: Add “a day at the beach” details – Now, just let go and have fun creating the look of a beach outing. Position the straw hat, starfish, and seashells playfully amidst the table display. Scatter loose candies at random, and finish off with some sand, pebbles, and green raffia “seaweed.”
Step 8: Provide a wedding-related finishing touch – Oh yes, this is a wedding reception after all! Remind guests with an item from the ceremony, like a seaside ring pillow in the shape of a seashell trimmed with lace and tiny pearls. This artful presentation brings together the entire theme beautifully.
The finished candy table is irresistibly appealing—playfully presenting a tempting array of treats amidst the colors and details of a fun day at the beach. Here’s wishing the couple “Sweet Sailing”!