Whether you’re hosting a casual movie night with friends or a lavish wedding, we know you’re always looking for ways to make your events special. What’s one way to bring a unique atmosphere to life? Building your own popcorn bar!
Let’s face it — popcorn is a fan favorite for guests of all ages. So, grab your party planning hat and read on for ideas that will make your next event POP!
First things first, you’ll want to set the mood with your popcorn bar presentation. From themed and detailed to kicked back and casual, this is your chance to dress up a classic snack in a fun way.
For the layout, you can simply line a folding table with a nice cloth that goes with your theme. If your event takes place outside, you may want to take this up a notch by using old barrels, a trolley cart, or something else robust and festive.
Once the table is covered, start with the basics. What will you put your popcorn in? You may choose country-themed snack bags, large glass jars and containers with ribbons, beautifully woven baskets, or (for the more casual event) just your nearest large serving bowls. Whatever you choose, make sure you have 2-3 good “starting” bowls that are large enough to fill with popcorn for your guests. And if you can score an old popcorn machine to hold it all? Even better! You’ll also want to find several medium-sized bowls or jars to hold your “extras”, which we’ll touch on later.
Next, you’ll want to provide your guests with their personal carrier. Whether you choose paper bags, small bowls, glass jars, or something else, make sure you find a size that’s small enough to carry in one hand yet not too small that guests will have to refill often. You can even take your guests’ personal popcorn holder to the next level by adding a fun saying with a sticker, marker, or personalized vinyl adhesive. For instance, “Life is salty, but love is sweet” for a wedding, “All because he popped the question” for a bridal shower, or “Let’s get this party poppin’” for an everyday get together or special occasion!
Once you’ve got the table lined and the containers ready, make sure your guests have clear directions on what to do. You can use a chalkboard sign to write it out or simply line up the table in a way that guides them, for instance, their individual containers at the far left of the table, then the large popcorn bowls, then add ins, etc.
Now all that’s left is to put your own personal flair on the setting! Grab a few LED letter lights to spell out “BAR” or use twine and flowers to decorate with a country style in mind. If it’s a fun movie night for the kids, you can line the table with blinking bulbs and play up the red, white, and black theme of a classic movie popcorn bar. This is your chance to add your unique touch, so go crazy!
Your table is set, so now it’s time to choose the ingredients your guests will use to make their tasty treats come to life. Up first? Well, popcorn, of course!
We recommend having at least two or three “starter” popcorns for your guests. For instance, you may choose salted, unsalted, and buttered popcorn for your large bowls. Or, if you’d rather give them flavor options, you could do butter, white cheddar, and caramel to start.
The important thing to remember is that this is your guests’ chance to make their own magical creation, so don’t go too crazy giving them a ton of popcorn choices. The simpler the better, as it’s the seasonings and add-ins that will amplify the flavor later.
You can always start with our famous Deli Popcorn. Easy peasy!
Now that your guests are armed and ready with their containers of popcorn, it’s time to let them jazz it up.
The idea here is to offer fun flavors they can shake over top. You might want to start them off with a light coating of melted, salted butter so that whatever seasoning they add sticks to their popcorn.
Next, simply fill regular salt and pepper shakers with custom seasonings and salts. Don’t forget to label them so your guests know what they’re getting. You’ll find a lot of these already pre-made at your local Publix, but you can also mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to make unique flavors of your own. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- White Cheddar
- Truffle Parmesan
- Butter (powder or liquid form)
- Kettle Corn
- Smoked Paprika, Saffron & Garlic
- Cinnamon Sugar
- Italian Herb
- Spicy Jalapeno Cheddar
Now that the popcorn is dusted, time to kick up the flavor with some special add-ins.
Remember those medium-sized containers we laid out on the table earlier? Here’s where you’ll put them to use. Give your guest the option to add more than just seasoning to their popcorn. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few ideas:
- Chocolate (think M&Ms, Milk Duds, Reese’s Pieces, etc.)
- Dried fruit
- Nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc.)
Again, this is your chance to really add pizazz. Have fun with your add-ins!
Wow, you did it! Your popcorn bar is an absolute masterpiece. But now, your guests have a salty-sweet snack that’s sure to leave them thirsty. So, for your finishing touch, offer the perfect complementary drink.
There are so many options for drinks to pair with popcorn. You can go simple with water (after all, they’ll be wanting that quench!) but you can also add in some extra flavor.
For instance, what about a soda bar? Line another table with regular cola as well as flavored syrups. Let guests fill their personalized jars/cups with cola and flavor to their liking, then finish with a themed straw and voilà! Ice cream is an added bonus for floats!
For the adult entertainment, you can pick the perfect wines and beers to pair with their snack creation. Our Aprons Meals Tech Specialist, Patrick Walley, says there are many pairing options. For instance, Pinot Grigio would pair well with the Truffle Parmesan while a nice India Pale Ale will complement the Sriracha-Tandoori.
Whether you choose simple or decadent for this last touch, your guests will appreciate the thirst-quenchers.
There you have it! Everything you need to know to put your popcorn bar together. For an added bonus, let your guests “vote” on the movie (if it’s a movie night) or have them enter a competition for the best name of YOUR love story movie (for a wedding).
With so many ways to add your own unique touch, we know your next special event will have the whole town poppin’.
Have more ideas for a unique popcorn bar? Drop them in the comments below!