Combine your love of vintage with everyone’s favorite dessert by hosting a classic ice cream social in your yard.
Judy Cloud, co-owner of Leola’s Vintage Home & Garden in Ozark, Missouri, sets the scene for her event on the front lawn and porch of her Pleasant Hope home. Judy decorated with a blend of garden florals, gingham, and vintage flags. You could try a patriotic theme of red, white, and blue if your party coincides with the Fourth of July. Or opt for a pretty pastel theme for early summer.
To recall a bygone era, dot the lawn, patio, or porch with nostalgic collectibles like this old bench and salvage birdhouse. Add festive flair to your gathering with draped and hanging flags, pennants, or garlands. Fill buckets, vases, pitchers, and jars with fresh-picked flowers and greenery. Place billowing ferns in large tubs and potted plants near seating areas.
A vintage ice cream freezer takes pride of place in an old wagon by the steps to the front porch. An ironstone pitcher filled with frothy hydrangea blooms provides a dainty touch.
To ensure mingling, set up a table of treats on the lawn where guests can gather around all four sides. Place other food and beverage stations around the porch and yard.
Cookies and cones fill covered glass canisters. Chalkboard labels identify the contents. Serve up hand-dipped cones on a ceramic or silverplate tray.
A three-tier stand of crunchy cookies, pretty dessert dishes filled with delectable toppings, and jars of long spoons and straws offer a buffet of treats. Set cookies out in the open only at the last minute, especially on humid days when they will lose crispness quickly.
An old wooden crate elevates a serving of baked sweets (to eat on their own or submerged beneath scoops of ice cream). A red-checked cloth and a jar of sunflowers complete the delicious display.
Balance all those sugary treats with an offering of fresh fruits (but they also provide tart toppings for sundaes and bases for banana splits). The presentation makes a pretty centerpiece, too.
Summer heat guarantees thirst so keep lots of cold beverages on hand. Stock up on spring water and root beer (both non- and alcoholic, maybe for a root beer float?) or try this fresh spritzer:
49 oz. bottle chilled cranberry juice cocktail
1 liter bottle chilled sparkling water
Mix juice and water in large jars or beverage dispenser. Add lemon slices and ice. For an alcoholic version, substitute chilled white wine for the juice.
A grouping of vintage Americana, such as this toy truck, baseballs, and street sign recall simple pleasures. Lined baskets of disposable plates and cups are placed near all the food and beverage tables.
Served in vintage parfait glasses, ice cream sundaes are sweet treats to beat the heat. The metal table and chairs are reminiscent of old ice cream parlor furnishings.
A vintage kitchen scale supports an old metal pitcher filled with napkins. A jaunty red bow around the neck coordinates with the red paisley placemats as well as the American flags dotted around the porch and lawn.
Kids, teenagers, friends, and family—who doesn’t love an afternoon of games, chat, and ice cream? A shady lawn and deep front porch offer a lovely landscape for a languid afternoon of play and conversation. Lacy cushions and bird-theme pillows add elegance to metal garden chairs. Roll in a croquet set and you’re ready for a genteel competition on the lawn.
Wicker easy chairs on the porch are an excellent vantage point for watching the croquet matches below.
Follow these suggestions to make your ice cream social the event of the summer.
If you’re freezing your own ice cream, make it the day before the party. If purchasing, stick to a few basics like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry plus perhaps one special seasonal flavor. Purchase fresh waffle and sugar cones from a specialty retailer. On the day, set out all your toppings and desserts, then bring out the ice cream as guest arrive.
How much ice cream do you need? A quart usually yields about eight scoops, so for every 15 people, at two scoops apiece, you would need a gallon of ice cream. Plan on about four pints of sauces and toppings for the same number of guests.
Keep ice cream cold in a cooler lined with dry ice (usually available at supermarkets) and wrapped with a pretty cloth. For best use of the cooler space, present the ice cream in cylindrical metal icing buckets.
Stash a pail of soapy water and a sponge nearby for spills and melting ice cream. Wipe immediately to discourage bees and other inquisitive bugs from swarming your party. Dispose of trash regularly in tightly sealed garbage bags but place trash bins well away from the main event.
Produced by Judy Cloud and Ginny Randall
Photographed by Chris Hennessey
© Caruth Studio