How to Throw an Ice Cream Social Party

Don't eat ice cream from the carton: Set up a sundae bar inspired by old-fashioned parlors and invite friends over for an ice cream social.

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Photo By: Melanie Grizzel ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: © She-N-He ©She-N-He

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Melanie Grizzel, Camille Styles ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Party in Five

Transform a typical summer treat — frosty, sweet ice cream — into the focus of a fun ice cream social gathering with these five essential ingredients: an ice cream scoop, delicate glasses filled with toppings, waffle cones, striped straws and colorful bunting

Set the Scene

Turn your home into an old-school ice cream shop by setting up this buffet composed of vintage glassware, metallic trays and textiles with punchy patterns. An on-display menu evokes that stepping-up-to-a-counter feel. All that's missing? An aproned server.

Get the Word Out

While this party is a nod to yesteryear, modern touches keep it feeling fresh. Set the tone for the rest of the fête with invitations designed in a cool white-and-gray palette with dashes of pastel hues.

All Hung Up

A colorful garland strung above the sundae bar adds whimsy and a festive feel. Simply snip gingham and striped ribbons to assorted lengths, and use a hot glue gun to attach them in random order to a narrow white ribbon.

Toppings Du Jour

A handwritten chalkboard menu set in an ornate white frame announces flavors and toppings in a casual way and acts as a fun focal point for the sundae bar. To make this one, I spray-painted a vintage picture frame white, then sprayed a piece of foam board with chalkboard spray paint. After allowing the board to completely dry, I mounted it to the back of the frame.

What's the Dish?

Use a combination of vintage and modern glassware and serving pieces (example: Grandma's crystal glasses mixed with sundae dishes purchased at a restaurant supply store), and add visual interest to the bar by using an assortment of spoons. Don't forget waffle cones for those who prefer to lick their ice cream, one scoop at a time. Insider tip: Prevent ice cream from melting too fast by storing glassware and spoons in the freezer until guests arrive.

Ice, Ice Baby

This party's main event is the ice cream, so don't hold back when stocking up on flavors! Classics like vanilla, chocolate and strawberry are a must, while more interesting flavors like salty caramel and birthday cake are a welcome treat. Throw in a couple of refreshing sorbets for guests looking for a lighter option. Fill a galvanized bucket with layers of ice and cold water for maximum cooling, then nestle all the flavors inside with an ice cream scoop at the ready.

Pile Them High

When it comes to toppings, we say, the more, the better. Nuts, sprinkles, crushed cookies, shredded coconut, fresh berries, crushed candy bars, hot fudge and caramel sauce are all classic additions, but virtually anything goes. Display them in simple glass bowls with plenty of spoons for scooping. A silver or metal tray adds a touch of glamour while working as a catchall for spilled toppings.

Float On

Reinforce that nostalgic vibe by serving some classic soda pop — dark cola and a ruby red cherry — for a fizzy drink or to make an ice cream float. Fill a large galvanized bucket with ice, water and soda-filled glass bottles with stoppers. (After the party, they'll be great for chilling and then serving water.)

Dig In

Invite guests to queue up at the sundae bar and make their own sundae, cone or float creations.

Easy as Pie

Showcase seasonal fruits and add both color and substance to your buffet by putting out a tray of warm individually sized pies. The miniature lattice tops add vintage appeal and allow the bright colors to peek through. Top with a scoop of ice cream for that classic a-la-mode treat.

Sealed With a Bow

Don't send guests home empty-handed! We used the leftover bunting material to make fun, kitschy bow ties with a needle and thread, and we set them out on a tray alongside the bar. Guests can tie them around their neck, to channel that nostalgic vibe, or take them home in vellum bags printed with the same logo as the invitation. (Bags can also be used to take home leftover pies.)

An Inviting Start

To send your own ice cream social invitations, click here to download the pdf and print onto 8.5" x 11" white cardstock. Fill in the details like date, time and location and send to party guests.

Next Up

Party in Five: Ice Cream Social

Throw an easy ice cream social summer party with a few essential ingredients, recipes and party decoration ideas from Cooking Channel.