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DIY Ice Cream Social

Strawberries and Ice Cream with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

During my first year in England, I noticed that the slightest hint of sunshine sent my neighbors searching for ice cream. There were lines (well, queues) at shops, cafés and kiosks because, let’s be honest, there’s no better way to celebrate summer than with ice cream.

It’s fun to make this sweet treat the center of a celebration. Hosting an ice cream social is a low-stress way to entertain; just set out a colorful variety of ice creams and toppings and let guests make their own creations. Start an annual event or incorporate one into a family reunion, birthday party or your child’s slumber party. You can offer options to meet everyone’s tastes and dietary needs. Plus, if you shop 365 Everyday Value® and our bulk bins (buy only the amounts you need), it doesn’t have to cost much either!

The Goods

Whether you’re making ice cream sundaes or sandwiches, no amount of sprinkles can mask the taste of bad ice cream, so start with the good stuff. Here’s the scoop on our ice creams: there’s no hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Look for these delicious options:

  • 365 Everyday Value® Organic Ice Creams. Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Chip or Mint Chocolate Chip
  • Whole Foods MarketTM 6 Ingredient Ice Creams. Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry or Coffee
  • 365 Everyday Value® Ice Creams. Chocolate, Cookies & Cream, Rocky Road, Mint Chocolate Chip, Vanilla or French Vanilla

Top This

What’s an ice cream party without the usual suspects? Set out bowls of candies (lots of options in bulk bins!), assorted chopped nuts (like 365 Everyday Value® sliced almonds, pecans or organic walnuts), sprinkles, chocolate chips, sliced fruit and whipped cream (look for 365 Everyday Value® – no hydrogenated fats!).
Surprise your guests with a few out-of-the-carton (hehe!) sauces and topping ideas. Here are my favorites:

Homemade Chocolate Shell



  • Crystallized (candied) ginger
  • Candied Lemon PeelsCookies like 365 Everyday Value® Gingersnaps or Vanilla Wafer Cookies
  • Crushed potato chips or pretzels
  • Candied lemon peels
  • Salted smoked almonds
  • Candied pecans
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Brownie bites or cubed pound cake
  • Caramel popcorn
  • Graham cracker crumbs
  • Granola, trail mixes or cereals
  • Fresh, grilled or stir-fried fruit

Cool Combinations

For people who need a little guidance, post suggestions on a small chalkboard. Think of traditional crowd-pleasing combos likes s’mores (ice cream + graham cracker crumbs + marshmallows + chocolate pieces) or tiramisu (ice cream + angel food cake + freshly brewed coffee + shaved chocolate). Don’t be afraid to get wild with why-didn’t-I-think-of-that blends such as:

  • Vanilla ice cream + olive oil + lemon zest or flakes of sea salt
  • Strawberry ice cream + balsamic reduction + fresh or dried strawberries + graham cracker crumbs
  • Coffee ice cream + salted caramel + whipped cream
  • Super sandwich = 365 Everyday Value® Vanilla Wafer Cookies + 365 Everyday Value® Rocky Road Ice Cream

Décor Ideas

Now that you’ve got the right goods, make them look good too. Here are a couple items for a picture perfect presentation.

  • Use muffin tins, ice cube trays, margarita glasses, small mason jars or ramekins to hold toppings.
  • Prevent confusion between chocolate syrup and balsamic reduction by labeling sauces and toppings with popsicle sticks.

Chill out with more sweet summer favorites by making your own sorbet, granita, ice cream, frozen yogurt or gelato or DIY popsicles.

Maple candied bacon? Honeycomb? A sprinkle of cinnamon? What are your favorite sundae toppings or ice cream sandwich ingredients? I’d love to hear them. 

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Aana says …

I always put wheat germ on any ice cream. It adds a nice crunch and some serious health.

Vicki Veh says …

I am searching for a prepared chocolate sauce that contains NO corn syrup to replace the Hershey's I was brought up on, have always kept in the fridge, and no longer use because it's really just chocolate corn syrup. Does WF carry one?

Joan says …

I just had a ice cream social for my daughter who graduated from college. It was fantastic. I put all the toppings in cute white glass ice cream cones. I used Oreo cookie crumbs,white and dark choc chips,mini kit Kat bars,mini rolo candies, walnuts, colored sprinkles, hot fudge, carmel sauce, choc syrup, beyers fruit toppings, fresh berries, cherries, and homemade whipped cream. I also bought waffle bowls , cones and made mini waffle cookies to use as sandwiches. It was a HUGE hit!!!!

Vanessa says …

We are an ice cream family...love it almost any way! Last summer we hosted an ice cream social in our front yard and invited the block to come partake. People brought all sorts of toppings to add. I think it's time to do one again!