Ice Cream Social Ideas for a Crowd-Pleasing Party for All Ages

picnic table with ice cream social ingredients
Photo: Carson Downing

Host an epic ice cream social complete with homemade sundaes and bubbly summer beverages. Whip up a batch of homemade no-churn ice cream and let your guests add their own toppers. We even have tips for preventing melty messes!

01 of 08

Serve Homemade Ice Cream

no-churn ice cream varieties and scoop
Carson Downing

Making homemade ice cream can be just as fun as eating the finished product. But don't stick to just vanilla or chocolate—making unique flavors is easier than ever! Whip up a batch of no-churn ice cream, then customize it with one of our 19 flavors. You can try banana or give rocky road a go. Or get creative and come up with your own flavors!

02 of 08

Add Baked Goods

sundae bar with baked goods and toppings
Carson Downing

The best ice cream social ideas always include toppings like baked goods (brownie points if they're homemade like these Gooey Butter Bars) for layering and crumbling, sprinkles nuts, and fruit. And don't forget the sauces: Store-bought is A-OK, but we like to make a batch of classic hot fudge.

03 of 08

Set (and Show!) the Menu

ice cream menu
Quentin Bacon

Welcome guests with a fun chalkboard sign listing all the options at your social. The drink of choice to include on your menu? Rosé champagne, a perfect palate cleanser and complement for ice cream.

04 of 08

Build a Sundae Bar

ice cream bar party toppings scoops spoons
Marty Baldwin

To make things easy, a great ice cream social idea is to set up a full sundae bar for your guests! Lay out all the essentials, like toppings, spoons, and of course the ice cream. Add pretty dish towels, fun serving spoons, and an ice cream scoop ($25, Williams Sonoma), and let guests help themselves.

05 of 08

Get Creative with Purchased Toppings

muffin tin with ice cream toppings

Get creative with your ice cream toppers! You don't need to set out a bunch of bowls for small purchased toppings like sprinkles or candies—small jars or muffin tins are the perfect containers, and they'll make your display cute as ever. Don't forget small spoons for serving.

06 of 08

Make Stamped Napkins

hand stamped ice cream napkins towels sprinkles in bowl
  • Add a touch of whimsy to your ice cream social with hand-stamped ice cream cone napkins. Create your own stamps using wood blocks and foam sheets ($8, Walmart) then customize your napkins (or tea towels!) with your favorite colors.
07 of 08

Pre-Scoop Ice Cream

serving ice cream scoops on cold tray

This ice cream social idea will keep your ice cream from melting too fast. Don't let tubs of ice cream sit out while your party guests scoops their sundae. Instead, prep the dessert before the party starts. Scoop several ice cream flavors onto a lined baking sheet and keep it in the freezer until party time. When you're ready to serve, just transfer the individual scoops to each guest's bowl with a spatula.

08 of 08

Create Ice Cream Favors

ice cream favors
Quentin Bacon

Let your guests take the party home with them. Give them the recipe for your favorite vanilla ice cream, a wooden spoon, and a pint-size container with a pretty holder. Include a recipe card with fun topping ideas like dark chocolate hot fudge, salted caramel sauce, and sprinkles.

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