One word (or is it two?): ice-cream. On a big table, stack up a few tubs of the most delicious ice-cream you can find. Mine was my very own bespoke flavour from Harry's Ice Cream Co, just around the corner in Brunswick: cinnamon doughnut and maple syrup (I know!!). More about that later.
Fill vintage tea-cups with a whole lot of toppings. Anything you like. I used hundreds and thousands, crushed Oreos and crushed Flakes, broken waffle cones, marshmallows, maple syrup, caramel sauce and chocolate sauce. Plonk some cute disposable ice-cream cups and spoons on the table. Invite your friends over, switch on the music, pop a bottle of champagne, and you're at a party!
Did you know that July is the International Ice Cream Month? This started in the US circa 1984, apparently at the behest of President Ronald Reagan, who called on all citizens to observe ice cream events with "appropriate ceremonies and activities." Fast forward 30 years and Harry's Ice Cream Co contacted me a little while ago to see if I'd like a few tubs of my very own flavour, to help celebrate a tradition of eating frozen confectionaries during the coldest month of the year. Darn tootin' I did!
In the name of responsible research I turned to Facebook, asking my friends to help me come up with winter-friendly flavours. A "vegemite toast" joke from my brother-in-law led to thoughts of honey crumpets, then French toast or cinnamon toast which, in discussions with Harry's Ice Cream Co, eventually became cinnamon doughnut. And maple syrup swirl for good (really good) measure. Folks, there were actual chunks of doughnut in this ice-cream. It was SO tasty. Harry's delivered the ice-cream a few weeks ago but in a supreme act of self-control, I held onto it until the Saturday just gone, to use it in a baby shower for my friend Pip.
Like me, Pip has a little girl, and baby number two is a boy. Pip wasn't planning a baby shower, "because I feel a bit silly doing it for the second one, you know?" And I did know, because that's how I felt too. But I regretted it. Harry is worth celebrating every bit as much as Madeleine, and I really felt that in the chaos of life surrounding my own second pregnancy, I didn't get to mark his progress or his arrival with the kind of weight I'd have liked to have given it. I wrote a bit about that here and here. So we decided to at least do something for Pip. She wanted to keep it low-key, so we just invited a few of her friends over to my place to indulge in ice-cream and brainstorm boy's names (what are your favourites?), and generally celebrate that beautiful bump.
So, back to the world's most easy party. To make it just a bit more fancy for Pip and her friends, I added a few little extras. A stack of cinnamon doughnuts, a hot fruit salad to serve with cream, and some simple bowls of snacks like dried apricots and pistachio nuts. The decorations were kept very simple too. Pip wanted "something to do with elephants" so I painted up a circus elephant balancing on an ice-cream cone to use in the invitations I sent out to her friends, then replicated it in little details around the table. My only other decorative task was a big balloon wall to provide a back-drop to the party (positioned higher than I'd have liked it to to put the balloons out of reach of Madeleine).
Pip's friends were lovely, the whole party was incredibly easy, and the clean-up took less than half an hour. Have you ever tried an ice-cream party? I'm absolutely a convert. Last week I linked to this ice-cream crawl which I think is a great idea. I've also bookmarked this giant banana split as a fantastic idea for a kids' summer party. And these ridiculously decadent candy-vanilla milkshakes look much too good to pass up. What are your best ice-cream party ideas?
Thank you so much Harry's Ice Cream Co for giving us this amazing taste experience. They also sent me a gift voucher to cover the cost of some of the toppings. I'm sorry to say my cinnamon doughnut and maple syrup ice-cream was a one-time-only affair, but three of the flavours (pavlova, sticky date pudding and lamington) are available at Woolworths stores across Australia if you'd like to try them. I can attest to the fact that they are GOOD. So good that "I don't like ice-cream" Mr B had two helpings of the sticky-date pudding ice-cream for dessert the other night, and I had a bowl of the pavlova ice-cream (pieces of meringue included!) after dinner on Saturday, despite having spent the better part of the afternoon already consuming ice-cream!
ps. Please to be noticing my very own logo on those tubs of my 'bespoke' flavour in the photo near the top. So special!