Throw a super sweet ice cream social party with a build-your-own sundae bar. It's perfect for any kind of celebration—birthdays, graduations, or just a regular Saturday with friends! We've rounded up our best serving and decorating tips, plus a clever party hack to keep your ice cream cold longer.

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Celebrate summer with a sweet and savory ice cream bar! This DIY sundae bar is surprisingly simple. Skip the mess at this party with our helpful tips to serve toppings and keep ice cream cool for your guests, and use our expert party planning tips to make sure your party goes off without a hitch. Don't forget the ice cream scoop!

people making topped cones at an ice cream party

Build Your Own Sundae Bar

The first step of a DIY sundae bar is creating a fun space to serve the ice cream and toppings. We used a serving tray to hold spoons, and set out empty jars for guests to fill with their sundae creations. Various bowls and dishes hold the toppings. Fill in with colorful dish towels, serving spoons, and ice-cream-related decor to add a fun touch this ice cream social. We recommend serving a few flavors of ice cream to make sure everyone gets something they love; you can even try making one of our irresistible homemade ice cream recipes at home.

bowls of ice cream and tray of toppings

Use Fun Servingware

Have fun with the utensils! We love the idea of using patterned spoons or brightly colored bowls to bring a pop of color to your display. Keep the servingware as bright and fun as the topping bar. We added neutral toppings (like marshmallows and white chocolate chips) to colorful or patterned bowls and let bright toppings (like fruit or sprinkles) add color to white bowls.

napkin with chip chip hooray printed

Pick Unique Ice Cream Sundae Toppings

The best part of a sundae bar is the toppings! When you’re shopping for toppings, get all the basics—sprinkles, cherries, nuts—and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with them. Adding savory toppings like flavored almonds or salted caramel can help balance all the sweetness. We topped off our sundae bar with bright candies, fruit, marshmallows, and chocolate chips.

muffin tin with ice cream toppings

Creative Dessert Display

If you end up with more toppings than bowls, get creative with what you have in your kitchen. Look for unconventional containers that will hold small amounts of sprinkles, candies, fruits or nuts—plain jars or muffin tins will turn into festive serving dishes once you fill them with bright and colorful treats. Let the toppings and dishes bring color to your sundae bar, then fill in with DIY party decorations. We love these fun honeycomb ice cream cones! Use glue to attach paper cones to a set of colorful honeycomb balls, then scatter them around the sundae bar or string them on a piece of ribbon to make a fun garland for the wall.

serving ice cream scoops on cold tray

Pre-Scooped Ice Cream

Keep the ice cream cold longer! Instead of letting ice cream tubs sit out while each of your party guests serves themselves, prep the ice cream before the party starts. Scoop a variety of flavors onto a lined baking sheet and pop it in the freezer until party time. When guests are ready for a sweet treat, take the tray out of the freezer; guests can transfer the individual scoops with a large spoon or spatula.

Coffee Cone Affogato

Fun Coffee Floats

This fun float station combines two of our favorite things: coffee and ice cream. Make a tray of delicious coffee cone affogato treats (complete with chocolate-coated cones!) and provide a mini ice cream scoop and fresh hot coffee so guests can create their own floats. For the ultimate coffee float bar, use a dual coffee maker like the Keurig K-Duo Essentials Coffee Maker, which allows you to brew a full carafe as well as individual servings so guests can choose their own flavors.

fruit and nuts in ice cream

Sundae Recipe Idea: Fruit and Nut

A double-berry sundae hits the spot on a hot day! Start with fruit-based ice cream, like classic strawberry or a fruit sorbet—a great option for dairy-free guests. We topped our ice cream with dried strawberries, chocolate chips, salted almonds, and a cherry. Yum!

blueberries and sprinkles on ice cream
Credit: Marty Baldwin

Sundae Recipe Idea: Sweet and Salty

You can’t go wrong with classic vanilla ice cream topped with fresh berries. This simple sundae packs a big punch of flavor; fresh blueberries and white chocolate chips add a sweetness that contrasts perfectly with salted almonds. Experiment with different fruits and other kinds of chocolate or candies to find your perfect combination!

cherry and sprinkles on chocolate ice cream scoop

Sundae Recipe Idea: Candy Confetti

This take on the classic sundae is almost as fun to make as it is to eat. Start with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and top with every fun topping on the sundae bar. We used sprinkles, chocolate candies, and sour candies for a bright and fun sundae—topped with a cherry, of course!

ice cream scoop and bowl of chocolate ice cream

Sundae Recipe Idea: Berries and Chocolate

Double chocolate and delicious berries—what’s not to love? Start with a generous scoop of chocolate ice cream and top with fruit and chocolate chips. We used white chocolate chips and a combination of fresh and dried fruit to add some texture to this yummy creation.

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