Are you looking for unique ice cream party ideas to surprise your friends and give them something memorable? We’re ice cream lovers here so you’ve definitely come to the right place.
The world of ice cream is such a wild and exciting place. Who knew this frozen dessert from the 7th century would end up becoming a multi-billion dollar industry we all enjoy eating? With so many different types of ice cream to choose from, in different shapes and with different toppings, deciding how to party with it can leave you feeling frustrated.
So before we dive into our ice cream party ideas, there’s one thing you should know about ice cream that can help you decide what to choose.
What Qualifies As Ice Cream?
If you’ve wandered over to the frozen food section of any supermarket, the freezers are always packed to the gills with types of ice cream. But what makes ice cream actual ice cream?
Well, to qualify as ice cream, the frozen mixture needs to contain a minimum of 10% dairy milkfat. Ice cream must also have no more than 100% overrun and weigh less than 4.5 pounds per gallon.
What’s “overrun”? Well, overrun is the amount of air that is whipped into the ice cream base during freezing and is represented by a percentage. This basically means, the more air churned into the ice cream, the lighter and fluffy will be its texture.
This means, anything less than 10% milkfat and with more than 100% overrun cannot use the term “ice cream”. That’s why some things you might see are called “frozen dairy dessert”.
Frozen dairy desserts are also okay to use in your ice cream party ideas. I just wanted to give you the heads-up, to help you with your ice cream buying decisions.
Now let’s dig into our party ideas.
The Which Ice Cream? Party
Now we’ve covered what makes ice cream “ice cream”, we come to the first of our ice cream party ideas.
While you can certainly theme your party around plain ol’ vanilla ice cream, there are many ice cream desserts to consider, including sorbet, frozen yoghurt, gelato… Any one of these could be your central dessert – a frozen yoghurt party, anyone? Here’s a quick rundown of the differences.
Gelato – Originally from Italy, Gelato is made with whole milk and doesn’t use added cream, which makes the milkfat percentage lower than regular ice cream. Gelato is often made without eggs and stabilisers, and the lack of air churned into it gives it a thick texture.
Sorbet – Sorbets contain little to no dairy, mainly because they’re made by using frozen berries and sweetened water. This gives sorbets a light texture and flavour.
This absence of dairy doesn’t mean sorbets are a pure vegan alternative to ice cream. Egg whites are added to some sorberts to help firm up their mixture a bit better.
Frozen Yoghurt – This popular type of ice cream is made with the same ingredients as ice cream, but with a much lower percentage of fat. Yoghurt is also mixed into the ice cream, giving it a sour flavour.
Sherbet – Like sorbet, sherbet is a fruit-based frozen dessert, but unlike sorbet it contains dairy. Sherbet ice cream is one of those frozen dairy desserts I mentioned earlier because it contains less than 1-3% milkfat.
Ice cream, gelato, sorbet and more are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ice cream. Due to different ingredients, there are also other variations of ice cream such as French ice cream (made with custard). There are of course variations for the lactose-intolerant, the gluten-intolerant and those conscious of their diet.
Any number of these options can already form the central theme of your ice cream party ideas. But here’s yet another idea to complicate things.
The How To Eat Your Ice Cream Party
When it comes to eating ice cream, we’re all familiar with the ice cream cone. Invented back in 1904, the cone has become the absolute favourite of all edible formats.
But there are other ice cream shapes to think about, which can inform your party choices. You can decide to focus only on one type or mix in several variations.
Ice cream bars – Like cones, bars are also very popular around the world. A bar is made by freezing chocolate-coated ice cream into a rectangular shape, which is eaten either like a lollipop (if it’s been frozen with a stick) or unwrapped from foil.
Ice cream pie – The ice cream in these cakes usually fills out the whole cake. If you want to know how to make your own, check out this ice cream cake tutorial.
Buckets – The ice cream here is poured directly into a plastic bucket which can vary in size – from very small to family-sized.
Ice cream sundae – One of the more popular ice cream desserts, a sundae consists of a tall glass filled with a few scoops of ice cream. It’s then finished with sweet syrups and fruity or nutty toppings.
Ice cream float – This is a chilled soda drink (like a Coke or a Fanta) with a scoop of ice cream added on top, hence the name “float”.
Ice cream sandwich – An ice cream sandwich is a block of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate-flavoured cookie wafers.
Any number of these formats could also be the centre of your ice cream party ideas. If you’ve never had an ice cream sundae party before, now you have the perfect excuse.
The Luxury Ice Cream Party
When we think of ice cream, we often think of it as this convenient treat you can buy from almost any grocery store. And while you could easily buy up a few buckets and enjoy ice cream that way, you could also treat ice cream like an expensive dessert.
Eating ice cream with a liquor like Bailey’s along with candles and some relaxing music can make this a luxurious experience for your friends. In order to bring out the flavour of a liquor, try and choose an ice cream with limited flavours, such as a deep chocolate or soft vanilla. Ice creams are creamy so when using any liquor, do so sparingly, don’t turn your dessert into a slobbering mess. Out of the brands, I tend to use Häagen-Dazs ice cream for this party idea. Häagen-Dazs make their ice cream silky smooth, in my opinion, and their chocolate and coffee flavours feel perfectly deep.
The Homemade Ice Cream Party
If you’re used to ice cream from companies like Baskin-Robbins, then homemade ice cream will surprise you in flavour. Unlike store-bought ice cream, you won’t experience any of the artificial ingredients, thickeners or stabilizers companies use to keep their products “fresh” for months. What you will end up making will be healthy, and you also get to experiment with flavourings.
Because ice cream requires air in the mixture in order to make it light and fluffy, you will need an ice cream maker. Ice cream makers are designed to speed up the process of freezing the ice cream and will churn the ice cream for you, saving you time. You can get your friends involved in the process, by having a homemade ice cream creation party.
The Wacky Ice Cream Party
Earlier we mentioned the different ways of eating ice cream like a sundae. But for truly memorable ice cream party ideas, why not treat your friends to very unusual ice cream food?
Fried ice cream is one such example. You can learn how to make fried ice cream (using cornflakes as the coating), as well as ice cream hot dogs, ice cream truffles and an ice cream bomb.
The Dessert Pie Party
So far we’ve seen ice cream experienced on its own, as its own special thing. But sometimes, enjoying cold ice cream with a nice warm fruit pie in itself can be a treat.
You can make the pie, cobbler or crumble yourself or go for store-bought. Fruit variations include peach, plum, apple, blueberry, raspberry, rhubarb and more. Opt for a vanilla ice cream or something with plain simple flavours so as to complement the fruit.
The Toppings Party
In most cases, we tend to eat ice cream plain or with just a simple syrup. But this party is all about the toppings, it’s like a buffet of toppings in fact.
If you love caramel sauce on your ice cream, you can add hot fudge, chocolate sauce, strawberry sauce and butterscotch to your list. Whipped cream, brownie bits, broken cookies, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces and jelly beans make for exciting topping ideas.
You have a world of choice if you’re using fruit. You’ve got strawberries, raspberries, cherries and bananas, as well as pineapple and shredded coconut.
Go nuts (pun intended) with peanuts, cashews (plain and salted), almonds, pecans and walnuts.
The Ice Cream Tasting Party
This ice cream party idea’s all about brands and is perfect for fans of particular companies such as Ben & Jerry’s or Breyer’s. Similar to a wine tasting party, an ice cream tasting is all about savouring the taste of the ice cream and asking your friends to guess the flavours. Unlike a wine tasting, however, you get to swallow the ice cream you’re tasting instead of spitting it out like you would with wine.
Luxury ice cream can get expensive, so when you’re planning this party, think about the number of guests versus number of pots. If you really want to excite your friends with a specific brand of ice cream, you can ask them to chip in some cash to help spread the cost. When you’re serving the ice cream, do so in pots without the brand’s labels. Try and freeze the ice cream before the tasting, to at least slow down its melt during your event.
The Ice Cream Cone Party
We couldn’t give you a list of ideas without touching on the cone. And like anything in the world of ice cream, there are many types of cones to think about.
Cake cones are the ones you get from the ice cream van, they tend to be flavourless, but cheaper to buy. They also focus your attention on the ice cream. Pretzel cones, however, are salty and crunchy and go well with richer ice cream flavours.
Sugar cones look like cake cones but are more sturdy and also crunchy, thanks to using molasses or brown sugar in their mix. Waffle cones and waffle bowls taste cake-like and reduce dripping, thanks to their strong construction. You’ve also got chocolate-dipped cones, where the rims are dunked in a creamy milk chocolate dip.
Any number of these cones can bring some crunchy variety to your ice cream party.
The Savoury Ice Cream Party
To wind up this list of party ideas, we couldn’t resist treating you to a list of savoury ice cream. Believe me, eating savoury foods with the sweetness of ice cream is an experience you have to try at least once. Your mouth will be so mesmerised by the contrast of flavours, that eventually you won’t find it strange at all eating bacon with ice cream or scoops of garlic ice cream. If you’re curious, you can learn more here about savoury ice cream ideas.
If you’ve read to the bottom of this list, you’re no doubt so inspired by ice cream you want to start eating some now. Ice cream is a versatile way to party and these ice cream party ideas help showcase this fascinating dessert. I hope you enjoy just one of these ideas. Happy scooping!