Are you planning a wedding, a baby shower or a milestone birthday bash and are stuck for ideas for snacks for your guests? A popcorn bar is a perfect choice! But here lies a problem – you’re all out of ideas for what to put on it. Look no further! We have lots of great ideas to make your popcorn bar a real crowd-pleaser!
Popcorn Bar Ideas
Popcorn bars work well for parties and other events because they’re fun and creative. What’s more, your guests can choose their own perfect combinations and leave out things they’re not so keen on. Depending on how far you want to take your popcorn bar ideas, they can be very friendly on your budget too.
Where to Start?
When it comes to a popcorn bar, several things are essential in the first instance:
- Popcorn (of course!)
- A selection of delicious toppings and things to mix in (more on that later)
- A place to set it all up
- Serving dishes and utensils
- Popcorn bags or bowls for your guests to fill up with their popcorn of choice.
Essentially, your popcorn bar should have one or more large bowls of popcorn plus a range of toppings and mix-ins. Your guests will take a container, add in their popcorn, and top it up with whatever they choose from your selection.
Some mixes may be simple – marshmallows mixed in and chocolate sauce on top, but others could be completely bizarre! The idea is that your guests can make whatever takes their fancy!
Check out our article on Popcorn Mix-In Ideas.
Firstly, let’s talk about the popcorn. The popcorn is what’s behind the idea, so your offerings need to be just right. If you get it wrong, the whole thing goes to pot.
You have several options when it comes to popcorn on your popcorn bar. You could keep it simple and offer one type of popcorn where guests can choose toppings and mix-ins, or you could have different kinds of popcorn as a base:
- Salted popcorn
- Sweet popcorn
- Caramel popcorn
- Buttered popcorn
- Gourmet popcorn
If you fancy jazzing up your popcorn options a bit, we’ve found some great ideas for homemade popcorn seasonings, including garlic and parmesan and dill pickle! Check them out on Food to Live!
Most people opt for both a plain and a sweet choice of popcorn as their base. If your party is a small gathering, microwave popcorn is ideal. You can pop it just before your guests arrive and top it up with more microwave bags throughout the event as needed.
If you’re catering for a larger number, hiring, or buying a popcorn maker is the best option. This will make sure that your popcorn is fresh and tasty whenever your guests want to visit the bar.
Topping Ideas for your Popcorn Bar
With your popcorns of choice decided, what topping ideas should you consider for your popcorn bar? When making the decision, it’s important to think about what kind of event you’re hosting and who the guests are. For children, a range of sweet mix-ins and toppings is probably going to be very popular. For adults, some may prefer a range of different tastes and textures and different things to try.
READ NEXT: 80 Popcorn Topping Ideas
Sweet Mix-ins and toppings often make up the majority of choices on a popcorn bar. And why not? After all, they’re so deliciously moreish! Here are a few sweet topping ideas you could add to your popcorn bar:
- Mini marshmallows
- Chocolate chips
- Cookie pieces
- Dried fruits
- Chocolate peanuts or raisins
- Sweet Toppings
To compliment these sweet mix-ins, you could offer a range of sweet toppings too. Of course, there are no rules that say you can’t mix it up with savory options as well! Let’s take a look at some sweet topping ideas:
- Chocolate sauce
- Melted chocolate
- Strawberry sauce
- Caramel sauce
- Cocoa powder
- Sweet jams and jellies
If you’re offering salted, plain, or buttered popcorn, a range of savory toppings works well too:
- Chex mix
- Wasabi peas
- Savory Toppings
Top top-off your amazing savory popcorn options, why not consider having the following on your popcorn bar:
- Flavored salt
- Bacon bits
- Cheese seasoning
- Hot sauce
- Chili flakes
Your guests may stick to what they know when it comes to flavor combinations, or they may mix it up a bit. Whatever they choose to do, having lots of options on a popcorn bar is ideal. Who knows, your guests might create the ultimate combo that they go back to again and again!
What Do You Put in a Popcorn Bar?
We’ve looked at the essentials – the popcorn, the mix-ins, the toppings… but what else do you put in a popcorn bar? Firstly, let’s not forget you need a bar. So, what are your options?
What you need to think about is that your popcorn bar is likely to become a hive of activity. There’ll be people milling around, chatting over popcorn, and coming back to try new things. Space is crucial.
Many people create their own space within their home or venue. A large table is a simple enough choice. However, if you want to go that little bit extra, hiring a cart or creating a bar from scratch is a great idea.
Think about the bowls, the scoops and spoons, and the labels or signs. People want to know what flavors they’re scooping up or dribbling on (this is also important if any of your guests have allergies or dietary restrictions). Make sure your containers each have individual serving tongs, spoons, or scoops and that each option is labeled.
Decorations and Themes
Have you considered a theme? Some themes may be obvious, for example, a baby shower-themed popcorn bar could big it up with pink and blue candies and sprinkles or colored candy melts. If you do choose a theme, adapt your signs and decorations to match! Decoration ideas can include:
- Colored balloons
- Themed labels and signs
- Bunting and flags
- Popcorn banners – check out this gold sparkly one!
- Cocktail straws and umbrellas
- Decorative jars and buckets
- Fairy lights
- Themed decorations – pumpkins for a Halloween popcorn bar, Christmas baubles if at Christmas, a ‘washing line’ of baby clothes if it’s for a baby shower, etc.
You could always be extra creative and make an inspiration board for people who struggle to decide. On it, you could list flavor combinations to try. If you’re doing this, don’t just stick to what’s predictable. Chocolate sauce and chili flakes anyone?
Check out how to plan the perfect wedding popcorn bar.
Bags, Bowls, and Other Containers
If you’re offering popcorn for your guests, you’re going to need something for them to put it in! Whilst bags work well for dry popcorn mixes, they’re not always the best if you’re using sauces and other wet toppings. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for popcorn containers!
Popcorn cups are made from paperboard material, making them a great choice for your popcorn bar.
Not only are they disposable, but they will hold their shape, even with wet sauces! We like these retro ones!
If you have regular popcorn bars or movie nights and want to think of the planet, reusable popcorn containers could find themselves a nice little home on your popcorn bar. Check out these traditional-style ones.
Popcorn bars for kids can get a little messy. They overfill, pour on too much sauce, and overdo the sprinkles. That said, getting some bowls that are designed with kids in mind is a great idea. These colorful bowls are 10 inches wide, so are easier to load up and they’re less likely to spill what’s inside. They’re washable too!
Final Thoughts on Ideas for a Popcorn Bar
You’ve had the idea for a popcorn bar for your party or event and then come to a blank about what to put on it, we hope we’ve now filled you with ideas for every aspect from popcorn choices right through to toppings, decorations and where to put the bar! All you need to do now is get popping that corn! What are you waiting for?
Sue’s favorite pastime? Watching a good movie with a giant tub of popcorn by her side. Her friends and family know that if they want to get her something, popcorn is always a safe bet. Sue has an adventurous spirit and loves to travel exploring new places – she’s been to more than 40 countries!