This post is courtesy of our contributor Chantelle…Who doesn’t love a good ice cream sundae? An ice cream social is not a new or unique idea, but there is a reason for that. It is fun, interactive, and, most importantly, tasty!
With summer quickly fleeting, I decided to take advantage of one of the last few nice evenings in August and hosted an Ice Cream Social for the neighbors. It was an easy party to pull together and would make a great idea for any gathering such as a birthday party, playdate or barbeque! Plan your own with these easy steps and my handy planning checklist available at the end.
Pick a Location, Date and Time
I decided to hold our Ice Cream Social on a weekday evening right on our front driveway. Both our front and backyard still had bare dirt at the time, so this made the most sense. Hosting outside also meant I didn’t need to worry about melted ice cream or sticky hands inside my house!
Don’t limit yourself to summer, though. Most people I know would still be more than happy to enjoy ice cream inside during the cold winter months!
Invite Your Guests
The design inspiration for my invitations came from these great GOODTIMES brand sundae cups and paper straws I found at Walmart. I had picked up a package each in red and blue and used that as a starting point for my red, blue, pink and chocolate brown color scheme.
The invite was designed as a 6”x4” image so I could print them off as a standard photo. At a cost of around $0.19 per print, this is one of my preferred ways to get a nice looking invite without spending much money.
Pick Your Toppings
I had a tough time narrowing down the topping options, but our final menu included sprinkles, gummy bears, Skor (or Heath Bar) Bits, mini M&M’s, crushed Oreo cookies, maraschino cherries, fresh strawberries, brownie bits, whipped cream, and three types of syrup:chocolate, strawberry and caramel.
Most of the toppings and syrups were store bought, but I added on a few home baked treats as well. I baked the brownie pieces using a boxed mix because this seemed more cost effective then buying pre-made. The mini chocolate chip cookies were homemade and the cupcakes in a cone came from a confetti cake mix I baked up and decorated with cotton candy flavored icing on the day of the party.
One other cute personal touch were the PC Brand Mini Waffle Bowls I Dolled Up with a quick coating of melted chocolate chips and a dunk into the sprinkles. They didn’t hold much, but that meant the parents could allow their kids to refill their bowls without feeling too much guilt about the amount of ice cream their kids were consuming.
Nuts are a also great ice cream topping, but try to be wary of allergies. I thought I had done a good job picking out nut free items, but was informed that M&M’s are not a good peanut free choice. Luckily my one peanut-free guest just avoided the M&M’s and all was okay.
Find Containers for Everything
For the table display I tried my best to use items already in my party supply closet. A lot of the jars and crates were items used for previous candy bar set-ups, and the platters are from my collection of birthday party and shower staples. If you don’t have your own collection of jars and platters, a trip to the Dollar Store is a great place to source out this type of item. Mason jars, plastic bowls, small plastic storage bins, or even paper cups could all be cute serving vessels for your sundae toppings.
I used wooden crates and pedestal stands to add different levels to my table, but something as simple as a cardboard box covered in matching gift wrap could serve the same purpose at little to no cost to you.
For decorations, I made some simple tissue puffs in the party colors and added cardboard bases to create “sundaes”. Lines were drawn on the cardboard with a sharpie marker to make it look more like a waffle bowl. I have quite a few parties under my belt, but this was actually my very first time attempting the tissue puffs. After seeing just how easy they come together, I now realize why they are such a popular party decorating idea.
Simple balloons or a paper banner would also be fun and easy ways to dress up your party area. I adorned my table with a simple banner I made from cutting up Dollar Store bandanas, and used them again as accents on the table.
I like to label my foods at parties to make it easy for guests and because it adds a nice finished touch to the food table. Labels can be as simple as a hand-printed tent card or something slightly fancier like the flags I crafted from striped paper straws to stick into my berry baskets. Chalkboard labels are easy to find and could be added to things like jars and vases to label the items inside. There really is no right or wrong way to do things when it comes to setting up a party table.
I also found framed signs a nice way to dress up the table and carry through any cute details from your invitation. I made both the menu sign and a small sign proclaiming “With a Cherry on Top” and simply printed it off on my home computer and stuck them into frames I already owned.
I chose to decorate the driveway too by breaking out the kids’ chalk and drawing a sundae with the words “Ice Cream” right on the ground.
Make Favors (Optional)
I love having a cute themed take-away at my parties. I decided to make small favors for the kids by repackaging some ice cream cone shaped chalk I picked up and adding a paper topper that matched my party decor. They were a nice touch, but definitely not a necessity if hosting an ice cream social of your own. The kids did have fun drawing on the sidewalk and it kept them busy so us adults could actually enjoy a conversation.
Another fun favor Ice Cream Social favor idea might be the ice cream cone shaped bubbles Dollar Stores tend to carry during the summer months.
Don’t Forget the Essentials
Make sure you have all the tools to have your event run smoothly. Don’t forget the ice cream scoops, spoons for the topping, a garbage can, bug spray and plenty of wet wipes for those messy little hands. I have created a handy Ice Cream Social Checklist available for download here that will give you everything you need to host your own party.
The weather turned out to be fairly nice and it was great to see all the neighbours come out and socialize. The kids were beyond excited as I was bringing the items out to the front driveway, and I know my 4 year old was pretty darn proud to be able to have all his friends over for his ice cream party. Truth be told, there was a whole lot of screaming from the hyped up kids, which only tells me the party was a success!
We’d like to send a huge THANK YOU to Chantelle for sharing this creative party idea with us. Craving ice cream now? Yes, me too! There are a lot more creative ideas where this came from – visit her on Facebook to see the latest ideas for fun crafts, party ideas and more!