A party with all the toppings!

Hosting a Cheap Summer Ice Cream Buffet

by Lauren Romano

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While we can eat ice cream any time throughout the year, there's nothing like a cool treat on a hot day. One of the best ways to spend a warm day with your family and friends is by creating an ice cream buffet where everyone can have their choice of ice creams and toppings. Before you get concerned about the cost, the following are some tips that can help you do the buffet on a budget.

Collect Coupons

You'd be surprised how beneficial coupons can be; they can really add up. When you consider some stores double or even triple coupons up to $.99, it can result in some big savings. For example, let's say you have four $.99 off ice cream coupons that double, and a half-gallon of that ice cream is on sale for $2.50. Pay full sale price and four half-gallons will cost you $10. However, when you use the aforementioned four coupons, you're paying $2.08 for all four half-gallons. That's not too bad for handing over four little pieces of paper, and you could easily find coupons for most (if not all) of the items you're going to have at your ice cream buffet.

Buy in Advance

Chances are that you're going to want to load up on all the goodies. This means stocking up on toppings like sprinkles, nuts, hot fudge, caramel sauce, whipped cream, chocolate candies, chocolate chips, crushed cookies, and more. When you buy these items in advance, not only could you get them on sale and even use coupons, but also you'll be prepared with everything without having to rush around at the last minute.

Check the Bakery for Sprinkles

Did you know that the bakery sections in some grocery stores sell sprinkles? Typically, they're also cheaper than brand names. For example, you might pay $3.99 for a large container of store brand sprinkles in the bakery section but pay more for a smaller container that's brand name. If you don't see them out in the bakery section, ask an employee if they have any available.

Head to a Dollar Store

You're probably going to want to use disposable bowls and spoons, but rather than pay around $4.50 total for a package of each, you could cut that price down by more than half at a dollar store. It's also where you can find cheap table covers and decor as well as platters on which you could put all your toppings. You can even buy soda in case guests want to make ice cream floats.

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Write Signs on Spoons

Rather than have all your guests ask what that topping is, it can be useful to identify each. However, you don't have to go all out with fancy signs. Buy plastic spoons and put one in each topping container and then write on the handle in black permanent marker what each is.

Make Party Favor Bowls

You don't necessarily have to give out party favors when you're hosting a summer ice cream buffet, but if you want to give them out, consider making the bowls the party favors. You can get some small cheap white bowls (consider buying in bulk to save some money), use paint marker to write a guest's name on it, and decorate the outside of each one. Then "bake" it, so it sets. There are many different instructions floating around online, but keep in mind you'll want to use "baking" instructions that work with the type of bowls you want to use. Also make sure that the bowls are oven safe. These bowls don't only make great favors, but also it will help for identifying whose bowl is whose at the gathering.

Hosting a summer ice cream buffet isn't about how much it costs. Instead, it's about what you do with what you have. Start by making a list of everything you need ranging from beverages and ice cream to toppings and decor. Once you have it all down in front of you, you can start planning for how to make it budget-friendly. The further in advance you start, the more likely you are to make it as cheap of a gathering as possible.

Take the Next Step:

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