Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with an ice cream social

Jul 25, 2014 at 2:04 p.m. ET

Although ice cream is the classic sweet treat all summer long, July is National Ice Cream Month, which means it is the ideal time to invite your friends over for an ice cream social. Whether you have a few days to plan, or are pulling together your party last minute, an ice cream social is an easy and fun way to beat the summer heat.

All you need is to set up a buffet with your favorite ice cream flavors, plenty of delicious toppings, and a few other yummy desserts. Add some colorful decorative touches (and lots of napkins), and you're ready to celebrate.

Photo Credit: Squirrelly Minds

First, gather your favorite serving pieces, from simple bowls and Mason jars to decorative serving trays and a variety of spoons. Add some height to your table with footed bowls and cake stands. Don't forget an extra bowl of warm water for rinsing sticky ice cream scoops.

Photo Credit: Four Generations One Roof

Before guests arrive, ditch the flimsy store-bought cartons by scooping ice cream into serving bowls or extra-large jars. To keep ice cream cold, fill a large bucket or beverage tub with ice and place the bowls on top. Add labels to each bowl so guests can easily identify their favorite flavors!

Photo Credit: Squirrelly Minds

Create an appealing display on your serving table with ice cream bowls, cones, cookies and any other treats you choose to serve. A variety of pastel dishes, bowls and linens will look festive on your table, but don't be shy about bringing in brighter colors like turquoise, orange and yellow. Make your tablescape fun and lighthearted. Don’t be picky about color; more is better.

Photo Credit: Squirrelly Minds

After laying out your table, fill small bowls with toppings such as chocolate chips, candies, rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows so guests can pick and choose. Clear jars, like small vases or Mason jars, showcase the variety of the toppings and add more color to your serving table. Don’t have clear jars handy? Filling an assortment of teacups, espresso mugs, ramekins and even measuring cups with toppings is another cute option.

Photo Credit: Four Generations One Roof - Squirrelly Minds

Add handwritten or printed labels next to the ice cream sundae toppings so guests can easily distinguish what is what. Create a fun DIY menu sign ahead of time by spray painting the glass of an old frame with chalkboard paint. Once it dries, use chalk to list all the topping you’ll be offering at the sundae bar. Or, for a fun party activity, jot down a few sundae recipe ideas for your guests to test out. Once everyone has taste-tested the concoctions, take a vote to see which was the favorite.

Photo Credit: This Heart of Mine Blog - Six Sisters Stuff

For an unexpected twist, create homemade pizzelles ahead of time using a pizzelle iron. Pizzelles can be rolled up like cones or lie flat to replicate ice cream sandwiches. Simply stack your freshly-made pizzelles on a cake dish and your guests won't be able to resist. They will love adding ice cream and their favorite toppings to create custom treats.

Photo Credit: Squirrelly Minds - The Nap Time Chef

Are you ready to host your own ice cream social? Here are a few must-haves from Wayfair.com to get the party started:

Nostalgia Electrics Ice Cream Maker $33

Certified International Mood Indigo Ice Cream Bowl Set $51

DKB Household Ice Cream Scoop $18

Chef's Choice International Ice Cream Holder $25