How to Plan the Perfect Ice Cream Party

Ice Cream

Ice cream, you scream we all scream for ice cream! If that doesn’t take you back 30+ years hearing your dad make the standard ice cream dad joke, nothing will. It is a dad thing, after all, to make a dad joke out of anything, no matter how tired, played out, or not-quite-amusing it is…it’s what makes dads charming and cool despite their tall white socks with sandals (No? Just my dad?). Dads make the ice cream jokes, but it’s moms who take that joke and turn it into a perfect ice cream party, and this mom has a few tips for helping you plan the perfect ice cream party.

Before you panic, I do realize it’s January and no one wants ice cream in the cold. But I’m a Floridian, and it’s currently 78 degrees and balmy (read: humid as hell and miserable) at 11 am (don’t be jealous…we’d kill for a season other than summer).

So, while you might not want ice cream in Wisconsin, my fellow southerners might have a different point of view. Perhaps you, unlike myself, like to plan ahead so you can host the perfect ice cream party in the spring or summer. I don’t know your story, but I know that ice cream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! My dad is so proud of me right now.

Ice Cream

Why Am I Hosting an Ice Cream Party

Why are you still in your Christmas buffalo plaid Victoria’s Secret pajamas with feather boas sewed around the arms like a boujee B? Oh, no? Just me again? Either way, my point is that it doesn’t matter why you’re hosting an ice cream party. You don’t need a reason to celebrate. Celebrating is something we should be doing on a regular basis. There is no reason too small, too big, or too unimportant to celebrate…especially with ice cream. Let’s celebrate the New Year. A birthday. Valentine’s Day. St. Patrick’s Day. Tuesday. Friday. Ice Cream. Let’s just celebrate.

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What are the Rules for Hosting an Ice Cream Party?

Here is the best part – there are no rules when it comes to hosting an ice cream party. Sure, the internet will tell you that the proper way to do it is to eat it with a spoon in a bowl or to send out invites two weeks in advance. But I’ve found that sometimes you can send an invitation out an hour beforehand, and it’s the best party.

There are no rules. Want ice cream in a bowl? Eat it that way. Want to serve it on a hot dog bun with a fork and three toppings? Do you, boo. When it comes to ice cream, there are no rules. But you should ask yourself what you envision when you think of your ice cream party. Is it a birthday or a Sunday Funday? Do you have a specific theme in mind? Whilst there are no rules pertaining to ice cream parties, there are some considerations.

  • Potential themes
  • Number of guests/guest lists
  • Location (home on the pool deck or at your favorite local ice cream shop?)
  • Type of ice cream
  • Serving concepts (bowls, cones, etc.)
  • Supplies
  • Toppings
  • Clean up

Ice Cream

Step One: Coming Up With a Party Concept

The first step to hosting a lovely ice cream party is a theme and/or a concept. Is this for a birthday party or a celebration? Start there, and then decide if you want to stick with a plain ice cream theme, or you can go a step further and make it a themed ice cream party. For example, a 90s theme ice cream party might be interesting.

Next, choose your location. Do you want to have the party at home, or do you want to speak with a local ice cream shop about hosting on premise? If you plan on hosting the party at a shop, you’ll need to speak with the owner or the manager to discuss dates, times, costs associated with the party, and size.

For example, a small shop may not be able to accommodate dozens of guests. Do you want a large ice cream party, or are you fine with just a few friends gathered in a small space? A small ice cream shop may not be able to close their doors to host a private party without taking a financial hit, either, so your party may incur rental costs, employee pay, and more.

At the end of the day, you may need to speak with several different ice cream shops, or you might need to move your party to your home. Either way, you’re going to find that there are a few steps involved in hosting a home party that differ from an ice cream shop party, so we’ll break it all down for you later.

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Step Two: Invite Your Guests

Now that you know where your party is being held, it’s time to invite your guests. Listen, no one needs to do this formally. Just send a text message. Make a Facebook event invite. Call everyone. No, don’t do this. Don’t call. No one likes speaking on the phone. No one wants to see your name appear on the screen while the phone rings and panic sets in. We all see you calling, but we are all waiting for it to stop. Make it stop. Send a text.

Mail a formal invitation if you have time. Hand-deliver an invitation. You do whatever works for you and the formality of your event. There are not rules as long as you remember to invite your guests. I speak from very personal experience when I tell you that sometimes you overlook the simplest things. Hypothetically speaking, it’s like me hosting an annual Christmas pajama party for the kids and all of our own friends. We buy matching pajamas, I schedule Santa and Mrs. Claus to visit our home.

They sit in the Christmas tree room and read stories, visit with each of the 30+ kids individually, take photos, hand out gifts, and they are remarkable. It’s a beautiful evening of food, friends, family, and fun…and hypothetically, I invited Santa and the Mrs. back in August because I was planning ahead and forgot to actually invite guests until a week before the December 22 party. Hypothetically.

The moral of this hypothetical story? Don’t forget to invite your guests whether by carrier pigeon or singing telegrams. Just invite some people. But, also, don’t call people. It is suspicious and awkward. Additionally, do ask your guests to kindly RSVP by a specific time so you know how many guests you need to provide for.

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Step Three: Make a List of Everything You Need and Buy It All

Here’s where we break things down a bit, and I’m going to start with a house party. If you’re hosting the party at home, you’re going to need a place to serve the ice cream. Do you have a large island with plenty of seating? Do you have a large table with plenty of seating? Perhaps you’ll need to borrow tables and chairs and/or rent them for the party. Additionally, you will need the following:

  • Ice cream – the basics are necessary, but you also want to add a few fun flavors, too. Give the people options.
  • Sprinkles
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Chocolate hard shell syrup
  • Caramel topping
  • Whipped cream
  • M&Ms
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cookie dough
  • Crushed candy bars (several types helps)
  • Nuts
  • Table covers
  • Napkins
  • Bowls
  • Cones
  • Spoons
  • Serving utensils
  • Bowls for your toppings
  • Baby wipes for messes
  • Decorations

If you’re party is being held at an ice cream shop, you may not need to purchase these items. The shop is likely going to provide all of the above for you, with the exception of any personal decorations, of course. Speak to the shop owner to find out what is provided, what is necessary for you to bring, and what’s checked off the list in advance for you. Now, you buy what you need that the shop is not providing.

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Step Four: Making It a Personal Party

Your ice cream party can be personalized whether you’re hosting at home or at a shop. You can buy a photo booth backdrop, for example, and hang it on a blank wall and add props. Try personalizing napkins – I highly recommend and even Etsy for finding personalized items like this. You can order personalized banners and signs, and so much more. It’s really up to you how personal you want to go, but do remember to speak to the ice cream shop owner if you are hosting the party there. They may have restrictions you should adhere to pertaining to decorations and other items in their shop.

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Step Five: Do Consider Dietary Restrictions

When I was a kid – a few years ago – considering dietary restrictions for a party was unheard of. Every so often you might hear rumblings of a kid allergic to peanuts or something like that, but it wasn’t often, and that kid’s mom was all over it. Now that it is 2023, everyone and their mother has a dietary restriction. You have your gluten-free crowd, the nut allergy crowd, the non-dairy crowd, your KETO friends, and then there is the no-fat crowd, the no red dye people, and the no artificial ingredients people, the pescatarians, vegetarians, the vegans, the no eggs crowd, and I’m almost positive I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

The point is that you should consider any guests with dietary restrictions. If they are attending your perfect ice cream party, be sure to include a few options for them. It is the nice thing to do. It’s also not uncommon for those who have dietary concerns to bring their own items to eat just to be kind, and that’s all right, too.

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Step Six: Focusing on the Party Details

Now that you are in full-blown ice cream party mode, it’s time to focus on the little details. How will you serve your ice cream? One of the most common ways to host an ice cream party is to set up an ice cream bar. This is done by putting all the ice cream flavors on a table with scoops, bowls, and cones. Next, set up a table for toppings. Finally, set up a table for napkins, utensils, and more.

You can even go a step further and create your own ice cream stand. Hire someone to serve. Designate an adult to handle each flavor of ice cream so kids aren’t digging into things or making a mess. There are many ways to do this. Another great idea is to think ahead. Grab several trays, small bowls, and start scooping. Put the ice cream in bowls, set them on trays, and put the trays in the freezer. When it’s time for the guests to dig into the ice cream bar, all the ice cream is already scooped and ready. Guests need only find their preferred flavor from the bowls you froze, and then they can get to work adding toppings.

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Step Seven: Do Add Additional Food Options

Yes, it is an ice cream party. However, some people might not care for ice cream. Others might be hungry for something real to eat. If you’re hosting around dinner or lunch time, be courteous and serve real food choices, too. You don’t have to go crazy. A vegetable station and a fruit station is all you need. Of course, you are free to serve a full meal if that’s what you want. It’s up to you.

If you really want to do this the simple way, you don’t need an ice cream shop or an ice cream bar in your kitchen. Hire an ice cream truck. Prepay for the ice cream, and bring the truck by the driveway. Let your guests head outside, get whatever they want, eat it in the yard, and move on. It’s cleaner, less hassle, and it’s super cool to have the ice cream truck come by for your kids and their friends. This is your perfect ice cream party – and you do it your way.

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