Things You'll Need
Ice cream display
Ice cream scoops
Ice cream signs
Nothing soothes the soul like a scoop of velvety ice cream. Former first lady Dolly Madison was one of the first hosts to serve ice cream at an event, where she included it as a dessert for the 1812 presidential inaugural ball. Take a cue from Dolly Madison and share the joy of America's favorite cold treat with an ice cream social. Ice cream is well suited for a gathering of around 100 guests, as hosts gain the ability to provide a wide range of flavors with little time needed for preparation.
Design invitations that reflect an ice cream theme, for example, cards in the shape of an ice cream cone. Indicate the date, time, place, directions and anything the guests need to bring. If desired, ask half of the guest list to bring ice cream and half of the guests to bring toppings. Send out invitations no later than 3 weeks before the social. E-vites are another possibility and provide guests with a quick and easy way to RSVP.
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Contact a variety of local ice cream producers. Inquire about bulk prices and find out what flavors are available, as well as any details about what makes their ice cream special. Indicate that their business will receive word-of-mouth advertising through the event and ask for promotional materials, such as business cards and fliers, to provide at the social.
Order the ice cream weeks in advance. For hosts supplying the ice cream, buy at least 9 gallons of ice cream. One gallon of ice cream serves approximately 12 people. For at least 1/3 of the total amount of ice cream, order flavors known to be popular among a broad spectrum of people, such as vanilla, chocolate, chocolate chip cookie dough, rocky road, mint chocolate chip, butter pecan or strawberry. For the rest of the ice cream, order more exotic flavors that will surprise and delight guests, such as eggnog, blueberry cheesecake, lemon custard, cherry bonbon and green tea. If asking guests to supply ice cream, purchase enough ice cream for at least 25 percent of the guests to make up for anyone who comes without. Consider including some frozen yogurt for those with dietary restrictions.
Purchase an assortment of toppings, including standards, such as berries, nuts, chocolate sauce and butterscotch sauce, as well as unique additions, such as hot cinnamon candies, licorice toffee, thickened Mexican hot chocolate or cherry ganache. To add a touch of elegance, provide plates of chocolate-dipped fruits and rolled waffle dippers to garnish bowls of ice cream.
Contact a party supply company and rent an ice cream display, like those seen in ice cream parlors. Ice cream displays have ice cream containers that lock into racks and a glass cover to protect ice cream. They also plug in to keep ice cream chilled.
Set up the ice cream in the display at least two hours in advance. Scoop individual types of ice cream into the display containers. Group ice creams in order of the ice cream maker and include small signs indicating where it was made and a little about the ice cream maker's philosophies. Include business cards and other promotional materials on a nearby table. Place signs above the ice creams on the glass window indicating the flavors. Include a small graphic, sticker or drawing that illustrates the flavor, such as a vanilla bean for vanilla or a mint leaf for chocolate chip mint.
Place the assortment of toppings on a table near the ice cream display. Place morsel toppings, like crumbled cookies, in bowls with spoons. Place powdered toppings, like cinnamon, in shakers. Use syrup pitchers for liquid toppings, like chocolate sauce.
Supply bowls, cones, spoons and napkins in various locations so that 100 people are not crowding in one spot to retrieve these items. Include more than is needed for 100 people, especially napkins, as ice cream tends to drip and smear.
Provide drinks, notably bottles of water or a water dispenser with cups, as guests will eventually start looking for something to wash down their creamy desserts. Coffee also complements ice cream. Store coffee in commercial percolators to prevent having to repeatedly make new batches. Providing root beer will give guests a way to make root beer floats.
For hosts planning to serve ice cream themselves, consider expediting the process with a heated ice cream scoop and an ice cream cone rack for making several ice cream cones in advance.