My Best Advice for an Awesome Ice Cream Sundae Party

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)

Ice cream is great, but an ice cream social is even better. And because I love throwing build-your-own parties, my ideal is an ice cream sundae bar.

I hosted a Sundae Sunday bridal shower a couple of years ago and it was a huge hit. The best part is that you can make it as easy or as complicated as you want. The only requirement is lots of bowls and spoons. Here’s a step-by-step plan to hosting your own customized sundae bar.

(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)

Ice Cream: Stick to the basics.

Stick to the basics here. Because you’re providing all kinds of toppings, you want to avoid ice creams that have too many competing flavors or mix-ins. Vanilla and chocolate are standards, but you can also do other single flavors — ginger, strawberry, mint, or even green tea ice cream would add some variety.

(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)

Toppings: Mix up the four essential food groups.

There are four categories of toppings in my book: healthy, sweet, crunchy, and saucy. They can of course overlap, but you’ll want to make sure you have enough variety and texture to let guests create their own sundae. Here are a few ideas.

(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)


  • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, cherries, raspberries)
  • Muesli
  • Toasted coconut flakes
  • Dried banana slices
  • Pineapple
  • Mango


  • M&M’s
  • Gummy bears
  • Mini Reese’s
  • Sprinkles
  • Chopped-up Snickers bars
  • Chocolate chips
(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)


  • Peanuts
  • Granola
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Toffee bits
  • Cereal


  • Chocolate syrup or hot fudge
  • Caramel sauce
  • Berry compote
  • Espresso
(Image credit: Kristin Appenbrink)

Make It Collaborative: People love to share.

Get your guests involved in the party planning process by asking them to bring along something to share. Get a little bit creative with what you’re asking people to bring. Here are a few ideas.

  • BYOT: That’s bring your own topping. Ask each guest to bring their favorite out-of-the-ordinary ice cream topping to add to the sundae bar. You can ask guests to share what they’ll be bringing to avoid overlap, or just wing it and enjoy the extra dose of sprinkles and brandied cherries.
  • BYOB: That’s bring your own bowl. Because there have been more than a few roommates through my apartment, we happen to have a lot of bowls and spoons, but if you don’t have that many, get guests to bring their own bowl. You can give out awards for the largest bowl, the most colorful bowl, and the best ice cream-themed bowl. (These cone-shaped dishes would be a winner in our book.)
  • BYOS: That’s bring your own scoop. You can of course interpret this in one of two ways: You could get people to bring their own ice cream scoop, but my preferred “scoop” is a story. Add a line to your invite asking your guests to bring a really great story — preferably one no one has heard before. And for added interest, you can make it into a fact or fiction contest!