What better way to commemorate start of summer than with an ice cream social? Ice cream is the perennial summertime favorite for kids of all ages (including grown-up kids), and an ice cream party is fun and easy. Gather up your kids’ closest friends, and enjoy an afternoon or evening gorging on ice cream. Here are a few ideas to make it fun for everyone and easy on you, the hostess:
- Buy large tubs of three or four favorite flavors. Be sure to have plain chocolate and plain vanilla on hand; some kids will only eat these tried-and-true favorites. Feel free to kick it up a notch for the grown-ups; try a tart raspberry sherbet, pistachio, or one of my personal favorites, mint chocolate chip or rocky road.
- Food Allergies. Find out if anyone can’t have dairy products, and be sure to include an option or two for dairy-sensitive guests. Some possibilities include soy ice cream, coconut milk ice cream or dairy-free sorbets.
- Set up a table with toppings. These can range from the typical (sprinkles, teeny chocolate chips, m&ms) to the imaginative: gummy bears, gummy worms, chopped up rice krispie treats, cocoa puffs, fruity pebbles cereal, frozen blueberries… the possibilities are endless! Try for a good mix between chocolatey and fruity. Don’t be shy about asking others to bring along a topping; give them some ideas and tell them to be creative!
- Toppings. Don’t forget about hot fudge, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce, marshmallow fluff, whipped cream, butterscotch syrup… choose a few favorites. Keep these on the opposite side of the table from the dry toppings to help avoid backups in the line.
- How to serve it. You can buy styrofoam or disposable plastic bowls, but if you want to cut down on waste, just bring out your collection of bowls and mugs. Or tell each invitee that it’s BYOD (bring your own dish)!
- Where. Try to use your outdoor space for this type of party, particularly if young children are involved. No one wants a gaggle of kindergarteners running around the house with bowls of melting ice cream! If the celebration is taking place at night, think about ways to provide some outdoor lighting; if you have a porch or deck, consider stringing up white Christmas lights to add extra light to the area.
- Idea. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could have the kids make their own individual servings of ice cream: Fill a gallon-size ziplock bag halfway with ice and add half a cup of rock salt. In a small (pint-size) ziplock bag, mix together 1/2 cup of whole milk, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Seal well. Place the small bag inside of the big bag, seal the big bag, and shake until the ice cream is set. This should only take 5 minutes or so. Wipe the salty mixture off of the small bag before letting the kids open, add toppings and eat!
Say hello to summer with an ice cream party; your kids will want to make it a tradition!
What are your favorite non-conventional ice cream toppings?