Having a party and not sure what to do? DIY cupcakes & ice-cream are so last year! This year try setting up your own party “Popcorn Bar”. It’s the latest trend, fun to eat and super easy to set-up.
You want your bar to look like you spent a lot of time & effort setting it up, when in reality it was a piece of cake to organize.
I recently set-up a popcorn bar (nothing fancy) for Zayden’s 7th Birthday Movie Night Bash. I realized that a popcorn bar was definitely a big hit with the kids and something you don’t often see in Singapore at birthday parties. Hence I decided to share some tips to help you get started in creating your own popcorn bar at your next kids, adult, movie-night, wedding, baby shower or whatever other party you fancy eating popcorn at.
Here are 10 helpful tips to help you set-up your own party popcorn bar…
Tip 1: Choose the right type of popcorn for your guests
There is no fixed method on what type of popcorn you need to have in your popcorn bar. You can keep it simple or get super gourmet – it’s up to you. But it is important to (1) Take note of who your party guests are (kids or adults or both), (2) the occassion (casual or formal) and (3) the party theme (movie-night, birthday, wedding, baby shower, etc).
For an adult formal party, creative flavors like zesty salsa and rosemary herb popcorn might be a hit. But for a kids party, strawberry popcorn or candy mixed might be a little more fun. Know your guests, your party theme and what you plan on serving. Do a little internet research to see the different flavors out there (I am sure you will be surprised with how many different popcorn recipes you can find).
Tip 2: Do a mix of homemade, store bought and gourmet Popcorn
Don’t be afraid to mix it up! No one will judge you for buying popcorn from the supermarket or vica versa.
But you will need to decide if you will be making the popcorn at home, or if you will be buying it from outside well in advance of your party. You should have at minimum 3 types of popcorn – Sweet, Salted & Savoury.
Here are some pros & cons for choosing between homemade and store bought popcorn.
Homemade: Making popcorn at home is very simple and cost efficient. This is great for smaller parties. However it can be time consuming to pop and keep fresh, as well as create a variety of flavors
Store-Bought: Buying popcorn from outside is less work and can open up the doors to some awesome flavors. However, be careful because store bought popcorn can get very expensive, especially if you go gourmet (so make sure you budget in advance for what you will need). And unless you have some real foodies at your party, no one will really notice the brand of popcorn you are serving (they will just be in awe of your cool concept and fabulous display – LOL).
Super Note: I spent a few hours searching various websites on different types of popcorn I could make and serve at my son’s movie night birthday party. Finally at the end, I decided to focus my efforts on other aspects of the party (which I am glad I did). And even though we served 5 different flavors, all from different places (homemade, grocery store & gourmet) the kids favorite was my homemade coconut oil infused, salted popcorn (and not the gourmet popcorn from Garrett’s – go figure).
Tip 3: Can’t decide on what popcorn to serve, set-up a DIY Popcorn Station instead!
Now if you just can’t be bothered hunting around for different flavors of popcorn and don’t want to get creative at home, another idea is just having a DIY Popcorn Bar. Chocolate, strawberry, caramel or even cheese, can turn ordinary popcorn into something fabulous.
A DIY Popcorn bar is very similar to your DIY Ice-Cream Bar. All you need is one type of popcorn (usually plain and lightly salted) and then the rest is up to your guests. Set up a variety of flavors and toppings for the guests to experiment with and let their imaginations go wild.
Super Tip: Come up with or print out some creative recipes and have your guest try to copy the recipe. A pinch of salt, a dash of curry, maybe someone coriander and viola you have “Bombay Dreams Popcorn”. You can even have a contest for the most creative popcorn recipe. Now you have a yummy treat and a game all wrapped up in one!
Tip 4: Have a separate table and/or a prime location for your Popcorn Bar
Similar to a candy table, if it is set-up correctly, a popcorn bar should be front and center at a party.
Popcorn has always been a hit with both adults and kids alike, especially at the movie theatre. Recently, a variety of gourmet popcorn shops have been popping up in the market. As such, people are starting to take notice of your everyday movie popcorn and making it a much bigger deal and giving it a more prominent place in their day to day life.
Having a popcorn bar can be as much fun as a candy table, but also serves as both a savoury and sweet item to add to your party menu.
Tip 5: Make sure to coordinate your popcorn bar/station with a uniform theme
Now that you know what popcorn you want your guests to eat, you need to have the right dishes to serve it in! Unless you are going for a funky, mismatched theme – all your bowls should be of similar shape, size or theme, basically they should have some reason for being a part of your party set-up. This is not just something you just toss the popcorn in last minute.
There are many ways that you can display your popcorn (there is not right or wrong way), just make sure you pull it all together with matching ribbons, colors or signage – this will give it more of a popcorn bar feel, rather than something you just threw together. You can either go for the classic popcorn buckets, simple clear bowls or something fancy. Even if you are doing a DIY station, there is no excuse for the table looking sloppy!
Super Tip: Use medium size bowls rather than a super large ones (even if you are having a big party). This will help keep you cut down on costs and also keep the popcorn fresher for a longer period of time. Just keep refilling if you see the supply getting low.
Tip 6: Don’t forget the Scoops!
Now that you decided on what bowls to use, you will need to have some type of apparatus to scoop the popcorn out with. Either popcorn scoops, big spoons, or even a cup will do. Just make sure you use the same utensil for all the different types of popcorn. Similar to the popcorn bowls, this gives the whole popcorn bar a sense of uniformity. Make sure you plan in advance of your party so that you are not frantically searching your kitchen as your guests arrive.
Each type of popcorn does not need an individual scoop (unless you have a bunch), just strategically place a few at the popcorn bar and your guests will know what to do.
Super Tip: Decorate your scoops with a ribbon or tag – it will take very little effort on your part, but will make a world of difference on your party table.
Tip 7: Make sure to label your popcorn!
Signage is super important for your popcorn bar/station – this will bring the whole concept together. You can either create your own to match your theme, search online for something you like. Alternatively you can go rustic and use chalkboard signs (also the latest trend) to label all your different flavors or get creative in your own party theme. Whatever you decide make sure you have some labels for all the different flavors so that your party guests know what they are eating.
Tip 8: Get creative with your guest’s popcorn container!
You have your popcorn, your toppings and your fancy table set up – now don’t forget the most important thing…the popcorn container for your guests!! What will your guests be eating their popcorn in? You can go with your traditional popcorn bag or box (sold in bulk on Amazon and great for a party), you can use a colored paper cup, a brown paper bag or something custom that you create.
Whatever you decide, just make sure there is enough to go around for all of your party guests and that you plan in advance on how to serve the popcorn.
Tip 9: Choose a smaller container for your party guests.
A small popcorn container will allow your guests to try a variety of flavors without a lot of wastage.
Super Tip: For an adult party (especially if you are going super gourmet with your popcorn), use plastic champagne flutes as popcorn containers. People can keep going back to refill with the flavors they like.
Tip 10: Custom popcorn containers can also be used as a “goodie bag” gift
If you have just a few guests in attendance, custom popcorn containers might be just what you need to really give your popcorn bar the attention it deserves. You can create your own or purchase them online – just get creative and the possibilities are endless. This can also be a cool party goodie bag gift at the end.
There you have it, 10 Super Tips to get you started for your own party adventure! A popcorn bar is not complicated to set-up, with just a little bit of planning and coordination you too can have an awesome addition to your party that will be sure to impress your friends.
Good Luck & Happy Party Planning!