Ice cream socials remind me of the last day of school. On more than one occasion, my elementary school class would celebrate the end of the year with scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream topped with a pillow of whipped cream and dotted with rainbow sprinkles. It was always such a special treat. The bad news? Not many people throw ice cream socials now that we’re all grown up. The good news? You can change that with these fun, adult ideas for throwing your very own ice cream social at home. So grab a spoon and get ready for a carefree summer celebration!
Invitations: An ice cream social is a great excuse to find fun, whimsical invitations to send to your friends. I love this one from Paperless Post and this one from Punchbowl. Make sure to send your invites at least two weeks in advance (even earlier is better). Summer schedules fill up quickly and you want to give your guests plenty of advance notice.
Create a Menu: This is the fun part. Decide on what kind of ice cream you will serve and the toppings to make available. Keeping the ice cream flavors basic helps create a nice base for fun toppings, so stick with flavors like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Then, ask your guests to bring toppings like salted caramel, strawberries with balsamic syrup, praline pecans, crushed chocolate covered pretzels, Bailey’s Irish Cream, chocolate-covered espresso beans, popcorn…the list of possibilities is endless. And of course, you’ll need sprinkles, chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream. Another nice treat is to have freshly brewed strong coffee or espresso so guests can create their own version of affogato.
Create a Station: Set up a station where you can keep pints of ice cream, bowls of toppings, and napkins, spoons, straws and cups for serving. Make sure the place you choose is easily accessible and won’t create too much of a traffic jam as your guests stand in line to make their ice cream creations. Decorate the station with a pretty garland, some balloons, or a chalkboard with the ice cream and toppings written artfully for display.
Make It a Game: Provide guests with note cards where they can write down their ice cream creations. Then, post them on a cork board and have guests vote for their favorite quirky combination. Another idea is to write down some combinations before the party, place the cards in a bowl, and have guests pick a card at random to dictate what combination to try.
Music: Make the atmosphere fun and carefree by playing fun, bubbly music. I like using Spotify to create radio stations using artists like Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, and Blossom Dearie to provide nice background music that won’t drown out the conversation.
Ice cream socials should be fun, even if they are for adults. The point is to relax, have fun, and think outside the box. If you encourage your guests to experiment with new flavor combinations and make the atmosphere fun and carefree, you’re sure to host the perfect summer celebration.
Rachael White is the author of the blogs Set the Table and Tokyo Terrace. After four years of living, eating, and entertaining in Tokyo, Japan, she and her family have relocated to Denver, Colorado. Rachael is constantly searching for new ways to make entertaining easier and more interesting for guests in a variety of environments and situations. In addition to food blogging, her recipes have been published in cookbooks including Foodista Best of Food Blogs and Peko Peko: A Charity Cookbook for Japan and in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri newspaper. Originally from Minnesota, Rachael strives to recreate recipes and settings that reflect Midwestern comfort with a modern twist.