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There’s no better way to treat your kids and their friends than with a surprise Back to School Ice Cream Float Party to celebrate the first day of school!
Treat your kids (and yourself!) by recharging after a long day with ice cream floats and friends!
When I remember back to my first days of school I recall how nerve wrecking it was, how hard it was to step foot on the bus, to get back into the swing of school after summer break. .
I like to do a few special things on my kid’s first day to let them know I understand how important this day is. We start the day with a special breakfast and a first day of school picture and end it with a surprise when they get home. These traditions give kids something to look forward to and shows them I understand that the first day is a big deal.
We have had a record breaking streak of sunshine in the Pacific Northwest this year making it even harder for the kids to get back into the swing of the pending school year, so I made the most of our high temperatures with one last warm weather hurrah.
This First Days, Floats and Friends party puts the ultimate warm weather treat – ice cream – on center stage with a DIY ice cream float bar. It was a mix of nostalgic ice cream parlor and classic back to school. Keep reading for all the party details AND free printables!!
A DIY bar simply loaded with delicious ice cream, homemade sodas and fresh toppings makes for an extra special way for family and friends to get together, cool off and recharge after a long day. This ice cream float party would be so sweet for a baby shower, or how cute would it be for a first birthday? Whatever the occasion, any day is a good day for floats and friends!
With all my events – no matter how big or small – I start searching for ideas on Pinterest. Creating a mood board with images found there and all around the web brings my vision to life and helps make the event cohesive. For this First Days, Floats and Friends party I wanted a laid back and cool feeling with a nod to classic soda parlors and the nostalgia of back to school. A color palette of muted pastels accented by classic black, white, red and yellow fits this laid back, classic theme perfectly.
This simple image can be used to make printed or electronic invitations. Either download the full page to print on your choice of paper and cut out or, like me, download the single image and text it to invitees. Click the links below to download your own free version!
To let the ice cream float bar take center stage I kept décor simple. Classic red striped straws and milkshake glasses are both functional and pretty, but you can use any combination of glassware you have – parfait cups, short old fashion glasses, canning jars or even champagne saucers all look festive when filled with ice cream and soda.
To add more color to the décor we sprinkled the float glass rims. It’s so easy simply lightly dip the rim in either honey or corn syrup, then in sprinkles… you can even delegate this task to your youngest of helpers!
A large ‘you scream, I scream, we all scream’ sign makes for a great dessert table backdrop and mimics the look of the invitations. Using butcher paper and a huge marker, this backdrop was done in minutes. Large rolls of kraft and white paper are great to have on hand because they have so many uses! Use the paper to line tables or make custom place mats, as a simple wrapping paper or let the kids make homemade wrapping paper. Or, like I did, easily make large signs on the cheap!
Loads of chalkboards and a vintage wooden school bus toy instruct guests and hold supplies but also play up the back to school theme.
By customizing dollar store decorations you can quickly create unique party décor. Great quality, simple, affordable party supplies can be found everywhere now. I’m always picking up tissue paper tassel garlands to mix them for custom party banners. For this event I took the blue tissue paper off one banner and tied them to another.. easy customized banner in the color palette! To further customize and frame the backdrop, I cut the garland in half to run down the sides instead of hanging across the top then taped cute ice cream float cut outs randomly around it. Tip- paper tassles come out of the package flat and straight – for a more expensive look, crinkle each of the tassles before hanging.
Download the free ice cream float printable to make your own super cute retro ice cream float banner! Simply download, print, and cut.
Food and Drink
The star of this party is ice cream floats – ice cream, soda and toppings – so get creative and offer lots of unique flavor and topping options!
Fletcher and I stopped by Walmart the other day and picked up a variety of ice cream flavors. Walmart stores nationwide carry our favorite Blue Bunny® Ice Cream in the freezer section and they recently came out with a new 2017 lineup of ice cream flavors and treats that give classic flavors a fun, unique twist.
One of these flavors is the Blue Bunny® Rockin Rocky Road™ that I used to make Rocky Road Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches. Another that makes for a fun float is Blue Bunny® Monster Cookie Mash™ with peanut butter ice cream, fudge ribbon, and monster cookie dough pieces. Blue Bunny® Cherrific Cheesecake™ is delish and pairs perfectly with homemade cherry or cream soda. Cherrific Cheesecake™ used to only be available seasonally but can now be found year round!
In addition to the fun Blue Bunny® ice cream flavors, I also had vanilla, creamy coconut gelato and mango sorbet. You can use as many different flavors as you like!
For sodas, I included root beer and vanilla cream soda but also made my own flavors of soda from fresh, seasonal fruit. By simmering fruit in a sugar water mixture, then adding club soda to the strained fruit syrup you can create any soda you can dream up!
I used the same three fruits as topping options in addition to whipped cream, sprinkles, and cotton candy.
This year Blue Bunny® also introduced a totally new treat, Bunny Snacks™. Bunny Snacks™ are the perfect bite-size treat available in four must-have flavors: Salted Caramel Pretzel, Chocolate Vanilla Twist, Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cookies ‘N Cream and they make great float toppers!
In addition to the sweets, I also had a big ole veggie tray, crackers and herb dip for them to snack on.
The kids had such a fun time coming up with different flavor combinations.. they even created their own float-off by mixing up their own masterpieces to have them judged.
Blueberry Coconut Cream was my personal favorite, but I may be a bit biased because it was my creation 😉
I love throwing parties with DIY food stations not only because guests can pick and choose things that fit their unique tastes but also because they double as activities. Kids and adults both have a great time!
I started out scooping ice cream but quickly handed it over to the kids. They loved the freedom and had a great time, especially with the whipped cream! Mixing wild creations, taste testing and making their own soda float competition kept them busy much longer than I anticipated.
I always have at least one game up my sleeve in case boredom sets in – or guests need a good way to work off their sugar before heading home.
For this First Days, Floats and Friends Back to School Ice Cream Float Party I picked up a package of party hats and large round balloons and created a ‘don’t drop the scoop’ Ice Cream Cone race.
With all racers starting at one end, place the balloon on the ‘cone’ and race down and back without dropping or touching the balloon. The first person back wins, but if they drop or touch the balloon they have to go back to the start.
After a quick run down of the rules, the kids set off and had a great time trying to keep the scoop on the cone! Just watching and listening to kid giggles will make anyone happy!
After the race, they had a great time playing catch with the cones and balloons and the balloon ice cream cones kept younger siblings busy for the entire party… who doesn’t love a supersize balloon ice cream cone?
Tips for success:
- Cater to both adults and kids in attendance by balancing stylish with kid friendly
- Upgrade dollar store decorations with easy customizations
- Use electronic invitations but include an image to build excitement and tie into the party decor
- Offer a range of ice cream and soda flavors to appeal to all guests
- Keep topping options limited but include enough to make it fun
- Use fresh fruit to make your own soda and as toppings
- Plan one simple game to give guests a fun way to burn off their sugar
How do you reward yourself, and your kiddos during this busy time of year? Do you have any back to school traditions? Leave a comment and share your ideas!