Ideas for an Ice Cream Buffet Party

by Kristina Seleshanko ; Updated September 28, 2017

Ice cream parties allow guests young and old to get creative while feasting.

ice-cream image by Leonid Nyshko from Fotolia.com

The ice cream social is an American tradition going back to at least the 18th century. But while it may be old-fashioned, ice cream parties never go out of style. Try a self-serve buffet style ice cream event, which may be the ultimate in easy-to-put-together parties. All it takes is a little planning, some scene setting and lots of yummy food.

Ice Cream

Fill a metal tub, such as you’d find in a gardening or party store, with ice, then place ice cream containers inside it. This will keep the ice cream cool and keeps drips inside the tub instead of on the buffet table. Have at least two or three flavors of ice cream in the tub. It’s not a bad idea to also make some ice cream at the party; kids especially enjoy old fashioned ice cream makers they have to hand crank.


An old fashioned ice cream parlor feel is easily established by using red and white or pink and white striped tablecloths and napkins. If you can’t find striped accessories, consider purchasing white items and striping them yourself with fabric paint. If you’re feeling really creative, create a striped “awning” from fabric; hang it from the ceiling with fishing line and push pins. Or use a striped patio umbrella.

Ice Cream Wares

Old fashioned glass ice cream sundae cups make the buffet a bit classier. If there will be young children present, choose paper ice cream cups instead. If you can’t find them, buy plain white paper cups and decorate them with fancy paper, shelf liner paper or hand drawings. Ice cream cones--both plain and sugar--are also a must. Consider long stainless steel spoons, if you can find them. Or purchase inexpensive plastic ice cream spoons in many colors.


Use large popsicle sticks (available at crafts stores) and attach round or rectangular paper labels, preferably printed on your computer. Stick the popsicle sticks directly into toppings like coconut or chocolate sprinkles, or place them inside sundae dishes or paper ice cream cups placed directly behind the food item you’re labeling.

Whipped Cream

Place a stainless steel bowl in the freezer overnight. Then, just before the party, make some fresh whipped cream. Place it in the bowl on the buffet table.


Strawberries are an excellent ice cream topping, but make them sweeter by slicing them, mixing in a few tablespoons of sugar and allowing them to sit for about three hours in the refrigerator. This releases their juices.

Other Toppings

Other good choices for fruit toppings include sliced peaches (fresh is best, but canned in light juice is fine, too), slice bananas, chopped pineapple, cherries and blueberries. And fudge sauce, strawberry sauce, chopped nuts, chopped candy bars, coconut, chocolate sprinkles and chopped and whole cookies are all great additions to the buffet table.