How To Set Up A “DIY” Birthday Party Ice-Cream Station

Setting up a “Do-It-Yourself” ice-cream station at your kids party is really easy, cheap and fun. Having a DIY ice-cream corner is different than just serving the kids ice-cream or popsicles. Although it’s the same ice-cream and the same toppings, it actually becomes an activity and a yummy treat all in one. The key to a successful DIY ice-cream station is all in the set up and organizing.

Things You Need:

  • Ice-Cream
  • Ice -Cream Scooper
  • Plastic Bowls
  • Plastic Spoons
  • Toppers (at least 4-6). Some examples: colored sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, smashed Oreo cookies, M&Ms, chopped peanuts, chopped pecans, chopped walnuts, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, fresh fruits, wafer cookies, cherries, chocolate chunks.
  • Freezer or ice-box (to keep the ice-cream frozen)
  • Clear or colored bowls for the ice-cream toppings
  • Chocolate, Strawberry or Caramel Syrup (optional)

What You Will Need To Do:

(1) Set up a table / area for the DIY ice-cream. Make sure you “party” up the table. Some ideas for decorating your table are to add a colored table cover, balloons, streamers, sign –  this way people know that is a special activity that you set up for the party.

(2) Let the kids come to the table and choose their ice-cream flavor. Have an adult help scoop the ice-cream in the bowl.

(3) Let the kids choose what toppings they want to add. If the kids are old enough let them put on the toppings themselves. If not let the person at the table help out.

(4) Decide on the amount of time your DIY activity will be set-up, it can be as little or as long as you like. If you are hosting a two hour party, 45 minutes to 1 hour is more than enough time.

Note: Since I had the extra man-power and a fridge at Playful Elves, I set up our DIY ice-cream station for the entire duration of the party. The kids were free to get as much ice-cream as they liked. Lots of kids (and adults went back for second helpings). However the majority of the kids got ice-cream once they were finished with dinner and done playing. It all depends on how you party area is set up.

Super DIY Ice-Cream Station Tips:

Cost Saving Tips: Unless you really want to buy organic or something specific for dietary reasons, there is no need to buy “gourmet” ice-cream for your DIY station. Kids are happy with anything. Don’t waste your money on Ben & Jerry’s, Haagan Dazs or fancy gelato. Keep it simple. Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are usually the flavors that kids eat the most. The toppings will be the extra flavor – no need to get fancy. If you get “Neapolitan” ice-cream, all the flavors are included in one carton.

Assign A Friend/Family Member To The Table: If possible, pre-assign a friend or family member to help with the DIY station. If the table is set up for a long period of time, assign two or three people to take turns. If you don’t have an extra set of hands to help at the table – don’t fret –  just make a sign saying “D.I.Y. Ice-Cream Station” “Help Yourself & Have Fun”. This way the parents at the party will help out by serving their own kids.

Party Planning Tip For My Singapore Readers:

Here is an itemized list of where I purchased the items for my DIY station in Singapore –

  • Plastic bowls (60 total) – SG$12 (each pack $4) (Phoon Huat)
  • Small Spoons SG$2 (SKP)
  • Toppings  (4 kinds) – SG$10 (Phoon Huat for sprinkles/balls & Oreo Cookies from Giant)
  • Ice-cream (Nestlé) – Neapolitan  – SG$14.55 (3 cartons, $4.85 each on sale) (Cold Storage)
  • Custom Monster Stickers SG$4 (my own design, printed on sticker paper from my local print shop)

TOTAL COST: Less than SG$45 (US$35)

Still Want To Make It Cost Less? You can do the DIY ice-cream station for even less if you don’t have the fancy plastic bowls (although those really did make the whole station look great). You can also reduce the amount of time that the ice-cream is actually served. For example, have the ice-cream station set up at the same time as the cake (right after lunch/dinner), that way the kids will be full and only need a small scoop of ice-cream.

How much ice-cream to buy? Decide how many kids are coming to the party and add a little extra for a handful of adults. Some of the kids will not eat ice-cream (but some adults will have a scoop). When I purchased the ice-cream for our party, I was clueless on how many scoops were in each box since we never have ice-cream at home. Hence I purchased 6 cartons of ice-cream because I didn’t want to run out, but we only used 3 cartons at the party. There was more than enough to go around for the kids and parents. Also, we only had 60 fancy bowls, but I figured if those ran out the kids could just eat the ice-cream in plastic cups – (50 kids total attended the party).

A DIY ice-cream station is sure to be a hit with the kids at any type of party. All it takes is a little bit of extra planning. It is super easy to organize and not that expensive to set-up!

Good luck & Happy Party Planning!


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