Who doesn’t love ice cream sundae nights? Kids can’t hide their excitement when you offer ice cream for dessert and a buffet of toppings, too!
To keep things interesting, elevate your ice cream sundae parties to rockstar status by planning themes, incorporating unusual ingredients, and making some fun homemade components along the way. Here’s everything you need to know for an epic ice cream sundae season at your house.
Try Different Ice Creams
While traditional vanilla has its place in ice cream sundaes, branch out and try new flavors and ingredients periodically. Dairy-free ice creams that use coconut or nut milk can be delicious alternatives to regular brands. Instead of using ice cream, try a gelato sundae and use fruits and nuts as featured toppings. Homemade ice cream is surprisingly easy to make with a little advance notice, and picking your own flavor combinations is one of the perks! Try using whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand from your own garden to make it special—strawberry basil and chocolate lavender are two fun ones to try.
Provide Measuring Tools
During an ice cream sundae party, make sure that everyone has a chance to enjoy the festivities, pile on the toppings, and end the night feeling energized rather than sick. Set out measuring tools with each ingredient to make it easier for kids to make their own appropriately portioned dishes. A metal ice cream scoop will give a portion guide as well as make digging the ice cream from the tub a bit easier; teaspoons are great for toppings lined up in a muffin tin, and putting syrups in a small cup for pouring makes it easier to see how much is left for others. The best measuring tool? The bowls you provide for the sundae; choose something small so that kids can feel like they’ve made an overflowing creation!
Focus on a Theme
Even if you’re just gathering after dinner with your family for ice cream, everything’s better with a theme! Elevate your usual dessert to epic status by choosing a different theme every month for an ice cream sundae party. Themes can be destinations (Paris), colors (rainbow), feelings (lazy summer days), or events (graduation), so don’t be afraid to get creative. Choose bowls and spoons to match your theme and try to color-coordinate the toppings, too. If you’re planning a destination theme, pick a unique ingredient from that country to use as a featured topping!
Incorporate Unusual Toppings
Traditional ice cream toppings like sprinkles and chocolate syrup are great—they’re classics for a reason. But adding some unusual toppings to the menu can not only make ice cream sundae night an adventure, but your picky kids might also find a reason to try something new! Salty and crunchy toppings work well with ice cream and are often overlooked, so focus on finding items that fit these categories. This list of unusual options includes things like crackers, pickles, and barbeque chips (and beer for the adult crowd). Make it a competition each time to see who can suggest the craziest, but ultimately delicious, topping!
Get Creative with Surprising Twists
If you don’t want to worry about making all the elements unique and new for your ice cream sundae night, focus instead on creating one special treat each time. You can make these in secret, or have your kids help with the fun of preparation! Chocolate bowls are a fun way to eat a sundae. The kids will love the process of making them. Homemade cones are also a treat. You can make them out of whatever flavors you’d like—chocolate chip, fruit, candy cane (if you’re planning to make cones regularly, investing in a waffle cone maker is a great option). If your kids like food science, make a homemade magic shell topping that is fun to make and fun to eat. For ultimate ice cream excitement, make cookie spoons ahead of time and see who notices the surprise first!
Whether you make them once a week or once a year, ice cream sundaes are best served with lots of toppings, creativity, and laughter.
Parenting Today is presented by the Minnesota Department of Health.