PARTY IDEA: Ice Cream Theme

Today, I went out to get the mail with my baby on my hip. I pulled out a catalog from Birthday Express (not sure how I landed on their mailing address...) and, as I flipped through the pages, I noted that I wouldn't want my girls' parties to be like that. Hannah Montana, Disney Princesses, Littlest Pet Shop, Pokeman, SpongeBob, Elmo...blah.

For starters, we're not really into "characters" around here. Second, it's pretty expensive to have everything all matchy-matchy like that. Thirdly, the favors and decor and accessories were all "cheap" and likely to end in the trash bin, unappreciated. Finally, I prefer simpler...more handmade...parties.

I should stop right here and say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with big birthday bashes or even character-themed parties (If we get invited to those, we enjoy them thoroughly...even if my 2-year-old doesn't know who the character is on the invitation). It's just not US. Maybe one day my girls will ask for a character-themed party and I'll probably say "yes," but - for now - I prefer "non-branded" parties.

Here's a party idea that is more up my alley: AN ICE CREAM PARTY.

And here's how to plan a perfect one -

A. Send out Invitations.

pop-up ice cream notecard ice cream notecards etsy handmade ice cream notecards

  1. I Scream for Ice Cream Pop-Up Card, $4.50 for 1 {etsy shop: CookieBits}
  2. Custom Embossed Ice Cream Cone Cards, $5.00 for 4 {etsy shop: scrapbookpatty}
  3. Cool Treats Ice Cream Note Cards, $14 for 8 {etsy shop: ordersupdesigns}

B. Set up a Make-Your-Own-Sundae Bar with vanilla ice cream and plenty of toppings:

  • m&m's
  • chocolate chips
  • peanuts
  • crushed oreos
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • bananas
  • cubed pineapple
  • crumbled Reeses
  • whipped cream
  • hot fudge
  • maraschino cheeries

ice cream carousel sur la table

Pictured Above: Ice Cream Topping Carousel ($39.95) by Sur La Table

* Comes with six 3-oz. topping dishes, a 7" ladle, six 5" spoons, and an 8-oz. hot fudge bowl with lid.

C. Plan an activity or two (or don't...sometimes parties without an "agenda" are best).

The activities don't have to be "themed," but if you want them to be...

D. Give out favors (if you want - don't feel obligated).

handmade soapsicle soaps etsy ice cream themed party favors ice cream barrettes ice cream themed party favors

  1. Handmade Soapsicle Soaps, Choose Your Own Scent, $4.00 for 1 {etsy shop: BunnyBubbles}
  2. Pink Ice Cream Hair Clips, $3.00 for set of 2 {etsy shop: sweetsoutherndesign}

Come to think of it, this would be a pretty cool party for grown-ups too.

YOUR TURN: Do you host "themed" parties for your kids' birthdays? If so, what themes have you done in the past?

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24 comments on “PARTY IDEA: Ice Cream Theme”

  1. We've only had one birthday party so far... but the second one is right around the corner! I don't go for the popular-cartoon(or other) character theme things though. If the kids ever asked I'd be likely to try to oblige by mostly we stay away from that stuff. I do like the ice cream theme and some of the other themes mentioned in the comments here - breakfast party, art theme, the pirate theme and the Little House on the Prairie theme - those are the kind of things I could get into. Most of our parties are just family parties - we invite Nana and Papa and the one Aunt and Uncle with their kids who live close and do that. I'm sure that occasionally we'll invite friends over for a party as the kids get older but it certainly won't be every year - that just seems to be a bit much to me.

    Now I'm craving ice cream... wonder how a "just because it's August" ice cream party would go over!

  2. Oops. I lied. It doesn't include the spoons and bowls. It includes spoons used for the toppings which aren't the same as the cute little ice cream spoons in the picture.

  3. That ice cream serving set is adorable! Note that if you buy it on Amazon it's $40 just for the carousel. If you buy it from Sur La Table, it's $40 for the carousel, dishes and spoons! Plus if you go through Mr. Rebates, you'll get 7% back! I love cute little serving sets. I save money with couponing on my groceries just so I can buy cute little extras like this!

  4. We've done theme parties (Disney princess, Diego, Dora...) and un-themed parties. I think one of my favorites was my sons 3rd birthday. We did an art theme and told everyone to dress in clothes they could throw out when it was over! It was outside and we set up a bunch of tables. We had finger painting, spray bottle painting (dilute tempera paints until really runny and put in dollar store squirt bottles), regular painting and a shady place with crayons. Kids were spraying each other with the paint bottles and having a blast the whole time. It was tons of fun!

  5. we're very low key when it comes to birthday parties. we managed to make it almost 4 years with out doing anything big for our kids' birthdays. My son however requested a party this year so we obliged. we ended up incorporating all types of characters he liked into the party (A homemade "Incredibles" cake, invitations on "Cars" paper from the dollar store, a forget who was on the napkins...)
    i find a little more tricky for girls. but i still have a couple more years until we deal with that

  6. We're not into characters around here either. I prefer more intimate, handmade parties. I'm thinking about doing a bug theme for Levi's 2nd B-day. Although, we might have to incorporate some ice cream...with buggy toppings of course!

  7. Well! I let my little ones pick what theme they want! I usually make their cake and decorate it just with whatever I have. I let them pick out 8 plates (one package) of the theme then I go to the $ tree and get a table cover and matching crape paper and more plates. It is just being resourceful and looking around your house for things to decorate. I have had...
    Elmo, Little Mermaid, Dancing Princesses, I love you.. Heart Birthday ( one of my favorite) We made hearts and put them everywhere in the house, Dora, Princesses, Little cute baby animals, Butterfly, cars, basketball, spider-man, I can't even remember them all. My favorite thing is the cake. I go online and get ideas. I have a lot of fun! The kids know that it is their day and It really doesn't cost too much. I also keep any left overs and use again. The Happy Birthday sign I use for every party! I think the cupcake party is way cool. I have done a party with just ice cream and all the fix-ens. It is so much fun!! Thanks for the chance to win this cool stuff!

  8. I have never had a themed party. But I'm sure there will be a lot in my future. I think I should start planning my daughter's first birthday soon. It's only 5 months away(OMG how did that happen?)

  9. What cool ideas you found! I hate to admit it, but after the first birthday, we really haven't done birthday parties for our kids. Thus far we have opted for dinners out at favorite restaurants with parents and maybe one friend. But maybe it's time to revive the birthday party...you make it sound pretty easy and simple!

  10. Like you, we don't do the licensed character parties (or clothes or shoes or...). Can't say we've done much theming either - mainly because I'm just not that creative when it comes to decor!

    The closest we get is matching cup/plate color to the cake (which I *do* get creative about!) For example, Isa's Monkey Cake was paired with yellow plates; Ina's Hello Kitty Cake got pink cups. (Shoot, I just realized Hello Kitty is a licensed character! Oh well, I make exception for anything Sanrio - that stuff is too cute!)

  11. ~hugs~ I love ya!

    I too dislike "character" anything, clothes, parties, etc. I refuse to do it.

    However there are so many ways to make it special without it.

    One year I made Jell-0 in a bowl and had the kids have a jello eating contest without using their hands. This year I am doing a themed "Tres Chic" France themed 18th birthday for my daughter... pinks, blacks... etc.

    Great ideas on the ice cream! Kids love to make their own sundaes... and even more.. their own ice cream!

  12. I had a pirate themed party for one of my sons.
    The invitations looked like a map for buried treasure and we even burned the bottom of the scroll for effect. Every child got a pirate hat and favors. Thanks, Cindi

  13. I LOVE that ice cream carousel! We had an "owl" birthday party for my daughter's first. She has big wide eyes so she has always reminded us of a little owl. I had my friend make "Look wooo's turning one" invites and we did owl cupcakes. I made owl fabric crayon roll up holders for favors for the kids. It was a big hit, pretty easy, and not "over themed". I think everyone had fun and we have some great pictures and memories. We also did a no gifts please party as she doesn't need anything, the economy is difficult for so many right now, and she is too young to understand anyway.

  14. That looks like a fantastic idea for a party. I may even have one "just because" - if it ever stops raining long enough... Elizabeth isn't old enough to have had a birthday party yet but growing up I had a teaparty birthday that was quite memorable. My cake was a mini teaparty - folded icing for a tablecloth and licorish allsorts cut into triangles for sandwiches. Mostly my mom didn't do theme parties for us older kids though. My baby sister was the one into themes. I remember a Narnia party, "going to the circus" (my mom paid me to dress up as a clown and entertain twenty-five 4 year olds - it was vaguely traumatic). The best was the time they did a Clue! party - every room in the house became one of the rooms and they played a giant game of Clue.

  15. No birthday parties yet! But I totally agree with you. My favorite birthday party growing up was one where we rolled construction paper into coneshaped hats and I drew Rainbow Bright on them. That was about as "themed" as we got.
    That said, birthdays are a big deal for me. I love baking a cake, and once Bambino is old enough, I can't wait to be creative with party ideas for him!

  16. We do the theme for the older one, since she loves that stuff. We kind of mix and match, though; maybe the princess napkins and plates for cake, but a plain color for the snack plates and cups. It saves some money but gives that extra splash of what she wanted. The younger one doesn't care much yet, so we haven't gone there with her. I do find it interesting that you mentioned cost, however, when all the things you pictured (although adorable and desirable) cost way more than those Disney Princess invitations or plates, or the goodie bags I put together...

  17. Now I want to do an ice cream party - just so I have an excuse for that ice cream topping holder! My daughter is only 2 so we've just done family parties so far but I definitely like the idea of different themes rather than characters.

  18. We had a couple of unique parties for my daughter. She had a Little House on the Prairie party which was a little extravagant in that I made her an outfit like Laura Ingalls. We were also studying a unit on Little House so we had read the books and I had maps and music and a poster with all the houses.

    We also had a "Wish my birthday was in summer" party for her because her birthday is in Dec. so we borrowed a tent in July and the girls all slept outside and brought gifts and we did a campout.

    One year for my son's birthday, which is in Feb, my husband gave rides to each boy in our backyard on a saucer/inner tube. He put a long rope on the tube and ran around in circles. He worked up a sweat, but the boys had a blast.

  19. We always do themed parties. My daughter had a Rock Star party this year. In Kindergarten she wanted a sleepover (I thought she was too young), so we did a breakfast party where the girls came in the morning in their pj's. We have also done Mermaid and Dinosaur parties (the last for my son). I get alot of ideas from birthdaypartyideas.com.

  20. I just had an ice cream party for my 8 year old last week. Everyone loved it. It was just family and close friends. Lots of fun!

  21. aww this post was commentless :(
    I've only done one party for my little monkey and I don't plan on doing themed until she asked for themed and then I'll go more with the color scheme of the theme because that is usually easier to find on clearance ahead of time.

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