Ice Cream Sundays at the Bennett House

If you know me at all, you know I love ice cream. Especially homemade ice cream. I also love opening my home to friends and family.

But with three little ones, lots of laundry, an-always dirty floor, 5 o’clock meltdowns, etc, etc, I found myself, late last year, sort of in a rut with inviting people over. I was discouraged by people being busy when I invited them and I also wasn’t feeling as motivated to open our home up as I used to.

One evening after the bigger kids were in bed, I took to strolling around around the bookstore with a sleeping baby. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who has inspiration strike amidst the stacks of creative publications and glossy pages full of stories and photos.

But there I was, and the idea hit me. It was a simple solution that would provide some structure (which I find helps me) to my hospitality desires, and motivation to regularly work on my ice-cream-making skills.

What is Ice Cream Sunday?

On the first Sunday night of the month, we host an open house of sorts, called Ice Cream Sunday where we enjoy a couple of hours of conversation and sundaes. I feature a homemade flavor or two and friends and family join us, bringing toppings, cones, snacks or more ice cream.

We indulge in something sweet, (although often made with alternative sweeteners!) and enjoy the fellowship of each other. It has become something we all look forward to!

It doesn’t have to be ice cream for you, but if you’re looking for a way to open your home more I encourage you to figure out a way to find something you love, and make a plan to regularly share it with your loved ones, and those you long to get to know better.

Why it’s a Simple Tradition

There are a few things I really love about Ice Cream Sunday, even more than other events. It’s the kind of gathering that doesn’t require a lot of planning or preparation (unless you’re making ice cream, but I like to do that anyway).

  • It doesn’t include dinner, which is much simpler, especially among families with young kids. And, the food is basically the same each month, so guests know what to expect and what to bring. Flavors can vary based on season, which is fun.
  • It’s a monthly event, so we just plan on it happening. I send an evite out but our regular attendees are starting to expect its occurrence.
  • It’s easy to entertain more and more people since the food is simple, which makes it a great way to get to know new friends or neighbors. Adding more people doesn’t really change the menu since you can always keep an extra half-gallon in the freezer just in case.

A few helpful hints

If you’re looking for a regular way to get to know your friends and neighbors and develop more of a sense of community in your home, a regular gathering is a great start.

  • A monthly event isn’t a huge commitment, and it can be flexible as well. Last month our Ice Cream Sunday transitioned to a Super Bowl party and in January, we postponed it a week due to New Year’s.
  • If you want motivation to work on some home-cookin’ skills, this is your chance. You could host a monthly BBQ, or a monthly cupcake night or a full-on dinner if that suits your fancy.
  • An evite is an easy way to announce your monthly flavors and get an idea of how much ice cream you’ll need. I always plan on having extra since I allow the evite to be forwarded on, so guests can pass it on and bring friends.
  • Cones allow for small servings for kids (and more fun in their eyes) and also lighten the cleanup load. Small bowls are helpful if you have multiple flavors so guests can go back for seconds (and thirds?!).
  • Label your ice creams and also provide water, coffee, etc, or ask a guest to bring the drinks!
  • We schedule ours early, 5:30-7:30pm, so that families can get kids home to bed and not start the new week out with a late night. Anyone’s welcome to stay and hang out longer, but the earlier time is more inviting for young families.

Some Recipes to Get you Started

A few months ago, I reviewed the eBook Just Making Ice Cream, and since then I’ve made a variety of flavors for our Ice Cream Sundays which have all gotten rave reviews. The book is affordable, supports a good cause, and includes everything you need to get started on homemade ice cream, including recipes full of nourishing ingredients and alternative sweeteners.

I also have a variety of homemade ice cream recipes on my other blog Gidget Goes Home. I hope to share more here in the future. I’m collecting ideas on my Ice Cream Love Pinterest board as well.

This month, our guests enjoyed a honey-lemon sorbet (adapted from this recipe) and I tried my hand at my first David Lebovitz recipe– mint chip. No artificial green coloring in this recipe, but mint just seemed appropriate for March!

One more note on hospitality… remember that having people step into the realm of your home is a wonderful opportunity for them to see the more natural, homemade way that you do things. Friends and family see how simple it really is to use cloth napkins, for example, when you mention that you don’t have paper ones. This subtlety is much more well-received than a lecture on the state of our landfills. ;)

Do you already open your home regularly? Let me know if you decide to try your hand at a regular open house, or your own Ice Cream Sunday! I’d be happy to share a monthly update on ours and the flavors we’re enjoying, on Facebook or here on the blog, if you’d be interested.

About Nicole

Nicole can be found blogging at her lifestyle blog GidgetGoesHome.com, and is the editor of Simple Homemade. She loves to read, sew, make ice cream, take pictures, watch baseball and go for walks by the beach with her hubby and three little kiddos. She loves anything handmade and is affectionately known as a bit of a hippie among family and friends.

Comments

  1. I applaud you! I would love to have people over to my house regularly, but we just don’t do it. More often than not I will make plans, and then *something* comes up, like the kids decide to strike on sleeping at night, and I will be stressed out over having people come over. I would like to try and have some sort of regular gathering built into our monthly rhythm, and this ice cream party sounds like a relatively easy going idea.
    Heather´s latest post: the power of baking soda – going no ‘poo

    • With kids, “something” always seems to come up, huh?! Having the monthly rhythm has definitely helped us to work around it rather than stressing out about it.
      I hope you find something fun that works for you!

  2. The lemon ice cream was listed as Honey Lemon, yet there was no honey in it. I’d love to make ice cream with honey instead of processed white sugar or sugar substitute. Is it possible?
    Donna´s latest post: Grateful For Another Day!

  3. Maridyth says:

    My husband works close to home, so for a while we were hosting lunches each week that we called Wednesday at the Wiles’. My husband would come home for lunch, bringing some of his co-workers, and friends I had in the neighborhood would join us too. I would provide sandwich stuff and people who came would bring chips or cookies or whatever. It started to grow as people began to count on it as their mid-week lunch break.

    When people came over they were introduced to lettuce from our garden, eggs from our backyard chickens, and I think there were several folks who were inspired to try some of those things themselves. At the very least, we became some of the people they would use as a resource for all things sustainable.

    We kept it up until I had my last baby. Thanks for your post, it’s a reminder that it’s time to get it in gear again!

    • I LOVE that idea, Maridyth! Such a fun way to get coworkers in on it too.

      I hope you’re able to get back into it. It’s hard to get back into some things after having a new baby in the mix, huh?! I know it has been for me, too. ;)

  4. Kara E. says:

    I love this idea and want to incorporate it into our food/board game afternoons we used to have (and then stopped for some reason – probably the winter). It would be so much easier to have ice cream than do a full cookout like we did previously. Great post!

  5. Nice idea! Renee at Fimby also has a standing menu when they have guests. I like how this simplifies the whole process.

    And I like that just being YOU opens the door for influence about other aspects of life (ex. the cloth napkins). I’ve found just by carrying my African shopping basket (fair trade) or wearing a piece of jewlery (ex. from Ten Thousand Villages), people will sometimes comment or ask questions and this opens the door for me to say a few words about Fair Trade and why I shop where I do.
    Kika@embracingimperfection´s latest post: Do You "Hold Your Pee" Because You Are Too Busy :: and other thoughts on self-care

  6. I love this idea so much!! So simple and fun! We also love having friends over but in this season of life with 2 littles it’s hard but something like this would be easy to do. Thanks for sharing this fun tradition!!
    Rachel´s latest post: Grocery Budget: Week One

  7. This is such a fun idea! I’ve been wanting to have people over more. This is something I could handle even with a baby.

  8. I love everything about this idea!

  9. I love the idea someone mentioned above of a game night. I wanted a “reason” to invite a bunch of people over and this is a great idea. Who know, we might even pull out the ice cream maker!
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom´s latest post: Weekend links

  10. Making having people over simpler is always inspiring. Thanks for the idea.
    Steph´s latest post: Mindset for Moms: Chapters 11-15

  11. I don’t regularly open my home but I would love to. Thanks for the wonderful ideas of how to do it.
    Becky @ Sowing Little Seeds´s latest post: Does it offend you that I homeschool?

  12. Thanks for the nudge:) My family was drooling over the ice cream that the Pioneer Woman made for her show last Saturday–I already had ice cream on my mind when I read your post. I look forward to using our hens’ beautiful eggs, our own maple syrup, and local dairy to make our first batch.
    Amy´s latest post: in the mail ~ seed+art

    • ooh, I bet yours is going to be delicious with all those local ingredients!! Happy ice-cream-making!

  13. Rebecca says:

    My problem: friends who will not attend anything AFTER 6pm, as they have little babies on strict schedules for dinner/bath/bed. Then friends who will not attend anything that STARTS before 8pm, as they are still in the restaurants/bars/late-night season of life. We are not part of either scene (no kids yet, but also past the late night clubbing stuff) These people are all friends with one another, and get along, but I can’t figure out how to plan a game night or movie night and work it out. I am probably WAY overthinking this, but does anyone have any advice for me? This must be a common thing once your “group” starts having babies, right? What do people do to mix the old and the new?

    • I found that when planning something, there are always going to be the people that can’t come because of issues. I just plan something at a time where I know at least a couple people can come and we have fun….hopefully so much fun that everyone who missed out, wants to come next time!

      I would try for a 3 or 4 pm on a Sunday Afternoon or Saturday, and see who can come. If you want to do something with moms and kids, I like afternoons, after nap time, before dinner time!

  14. what a great idea! i am not much of an ice cream person, but i am sure i could find a homemade dessert that could have toppings, etc to do regularly. we do dinner with another family as often as we can, but you are right that it is a lot of work and takes up a lot of the time we could be visiting and getting to know each other better. great idea!
    Charis´s latest post: starting to feel better

  15. Melissa says:

    Do you (or anyone reading this) have any suggestions for an ice cream maker? This sounds like fun but we don’t have the proper machinery :).

    • Hi Melissa,
      I have the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer. I absolutely love it. Rather than a whole other appliance I just have the ice cream bowl that I keep in the freezer and then a special paddle attachment.

      If you don’t have a Kitchen Aid, I’ve heard good things about Cuisenart (sp?) makers.

  16. Nicole,

    I applaud you for stepping past the discouragement of the people that are “too busy,” find something better to do or whatever else might be thrown our way. I know I find myself there so often and it’s hard not to get dejected and start second guessing yourself.

    I recently had an open house for the new little house I bought and couldn’t help but get discouraged when the people I thought would support me were “too busy” or had something else to do but I stepped past that and basked in the friendships of the ones who cared enough to come.

    Can’t wait to try some of your ice cream recipes as that is one of my biggest downfalls…..and you make them healthier…:-)

    Mary

  17. Oh, this looks GREAT…and who doesn’t love ice cream? What a great way to gather people together and enjoy something tasty, all at the same time :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)
    Heather :) :) :)´s latest post: IT MAKES "CENTS" TO ME SUNDAY FOR MARCH 4th.

  18. I LOVE the idea of a monthly themed event to host family and friends. I’ve done something similar in the past but it was always for my birthday. I’ve done: Make Your Own Pizza party, Make Your Own Taco party, and now I’m thinking of Make Your Own Burger party. Hmm, just writing all that out makes me think that I’m putting my guests to work haha! People seem to really enjoy it, though.
    Sleeping Mom´s latest post: Yo Gabba Who? My toddler lives under a rock

  19. That’s a really nice idea. We hardly ever have people over but I’d like to. It really breathes life into a home!
    Michelle @ Find Your Balance´s latest post: It’s ok to only eat broccoli and bananas. Really. Here’s why.

  20. Stephanie Pease says:

    We’ve done something similar for years. We called it “Soup Night” – inspired by an article from a christian women’s magazine about how to get to know your neighbors. I wrote the writer about how she structured her Soup Night, and we copied it. For about 5 years, we invited everyone on our street to come by and enjoy a big pot of soup. Soup can be made cheaply, and that made the cost minimal to none. We did this in the winter – January till March, weekly, so people wouldn’t forget about it and the older neighbors wouldn’t be bothered with internet invites. Some years we did it for three months, some years for only 6 weeks. We made enough so that we almost never ran out, and as we got to know people and their individual needs, during the last few years I usually made two soups – one regular, and one that was gluten-free or dairy-free or vegetarian. We loved it – any cost to us financially or in terms of inconvenience was more than repaid in the benefits of getting to know our ACTUAL NEIGHBORS! Now, if we are in an emergency, we have a network of people who live ON OUR STREET that we can call for help. We’ve been given gifts from people moving, and we are no longer annoyed when the neighbor’s dog barks, because we know his name, and we just call over the fence to him and tell him to be quiet. :)

    Sadly, we’ve entered a season where we’ve had to change things. Our house is only 1300 square feet, our two boys are aged 3 and 5, and several of our neighborhood friends also have small children. Our house has wood floors, and when everyone gets together, its loud enough that even I feel a little overwhelmed, and the older neighbors began to stay away because it bothered them so much. We decided to switch to a summer Grill Night, and keep it to 4 weeks, since summers are so packed with fun and travel. We’ve done that for two years, and its worked pretty well, but not been nearly as fun. It was so nice in the winter to get everyone out of their homes when the dismal weather usually kept us inside. School has also made things a little more difficult. I’m trying to remember that life is made of seasons, and my husband and I need to readjust how we do our hospitality accordingly. Thanks for the inspiration, and we’ll definitely keep ice cream night in mind as we figure out how to make our sweet little house work with our desires to bless others.

  21. This is a wonderful idea! Entertaining doesn’t just “happen,” and hosting a dinner can be overwhelming. What a great idea for sharing the work and the costs, and creating a tradition people love and look forward to.

  22. Despite my sour expression in that picture, I can assure you that I was really enjoying the ice cream – pumpkin spice I think?! – and the company =) You have such a warm and inviting home, Nicole and you and David made us feel so welcome. Can’t wait for the next one!

    • haha, I know it’s not the most flattering photo, but I thought like it looked like you were deep into a good conversation. ;)

      Thanks for your kind words, friend.

  23. Costco had the most wonderful simple ice cream maker on sale years ago and it has been busy in our home ever since. We have fresh goats milk which makes ice cream velvety smooth! I’m glad you found a way to keep up with family and friends once a month! I have an open house each Thursday for ladies and their stay at home kids and puppies. It gets very busy but is a heart warming welcoming time where everyone comes with something to share, either food or story or craft. We pray God’s blessing on the time and are… indeed blessed!
    thefisherlady´s latest post: my favourite things/ this fine snow hanging

    • I’ve yet to try ice cream with goat’s milk- I need to! :)

      Your open house sounds lovely! I might have to try something like that with my friends.

  24. Thanks for this inspiration. I have been pondering how we can get to know our new neighborhood and I think an Ice Cream Sunday might be just the trick! I also like one of the comments about doing a Soup Night, which might make more sense in the midst of this long lasting winter, but Ice Cream Sunday could be an optimistic look toward summer!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Have a casual ice cream social, complete with homemade ice cream! I recommend the KitchenAid ice cream maker bowl attachment if you have a stand mixer. I also love to give homemade ice cream as gifts. [...]

  2. [...] discovered the fun of the classic Magic Shell ice cream topping. A friend brought it to one of our Ice Cream Sundays and I have been enjoying it ever [...]

  3. [...] members have experienced homemade ice cream now because of my experimenting, whether by way of Ice Cream Sundays, as a gift, or just dessert after dinner, and it’s a simple pleasure I’m happy to [...]

  4. […] recipe produced rave reviews as well. I made this for March”s Ice Cream Sundays get-together, and when a friend heard about it but couldn”t come, she requested I make it […]

  5. […] Parts of this post where originally posted on Simple Homemade in 2012– you can head there to read the original post and all the […]

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