With the humidity rising and the dog days of summer ambushing us with
stifling air, what’s the best way to cool down? If you have a child’s birthday
party to plan in the next few months, you will definitely be interested in
these “cool” local spots. Whether you go old-fashioned or avant-garde, ice
cream somehow evokes memories of summers past and lazy days by the swimming
hole. Here are some local NJ spots that truly put the scream back in ice cream.

 Ice Cream Party Locations

Ben & Jerry’s at Port Imperial in West New York, NJ, opened just
one year ago. The basic party is $225 for a minimum of 10 kids ($14.99 each
additional). They provide invitations and paper goods and decorate with
balloons—all you have to bring are the drinks! The staff will also keep the
kids busy with arts and crafts, face painting, games and dancing. If you do the
11 am slot you can order lunch with their approved caterers. That’s not all.
Kids can take a store tour, make a waffle bowl and of course, make their own
sundae with all their favorite toppings! Two things that could concern some
parents about this location is the lack of parking and the fact that you would
have to be open to their regular customers in the same area. There is no
separate party room.

Little Scoops in Closter, NJ, is also known for hosting kids
birthday parties. Step inside and you travel back in time to the 1950’s retro
ice cream parlors. Parties here include invitations, paper goods, dancing,
games, pizza, drinks, autographed T-shirt and make-your-own sundaes. You get
four flavors of Edy’s ice cream and up to 12 toppings. They can accommodate
from 15 to 40 guests. The cost is $370 for 15 kids and each additional kid is
$18. Owner Rachel said that parents love them because they do everything—serve
the food, bag gifts, clean up, etc. There are 90 parking spots in a municipal
lot behind the store. This is a good option because you don’t have to share the
store with regular customers but the choices in ice cream flavors are limited.

McCool’s is located in Madison, NJ, and they have a great deal
for parties. They serve 35 flavors of Hershey’s ice cream. There is a 10-child
minimum (20 to 25 max) and it will cost $13/child. This includes any flavor of
ice cream and unlimited toppings, drinks, table settings and two games: ice
cream bingo and pin-the-cherry-on-the-ice-cream sundae. They also decorate with
balloons and tablecloth in a color you can pick. Parties are scheduled at 11
am—before the store opens at 12pm so you have privacy. You can also order pizza
locally or add on a craft, spin art, piñata or clown/singer/magician. There is
ample parking and owner Mary Ellen said she gets lots of new parties from
parents who have attended a previous party.

Applegate Farmhas parties only at its Freehold, NJ, location. What
stands out is that in addition to making your own sundae, they have an ice
cream making demonstration where kids can take turns on the churner to make
vanilla ice cream. They have a separate party room for 10-20 kids that has a
barnyard theme and small dance floor. Kids can play musical chairs, pin the
tail on the donkey and limbo. The basic package (no sundae or pizza) is
$9.95/child. There is also a $12.95 and $16.95 package; the $18.95 package
includes everything. All packages include a 6-inch round ice cream cake and

(note: all of the
above are 1 ½ hour parties)

 Ice Cream at Your

Say you are a big fan
of ice cream but want to host it at your house. Another option is having the
cart come to you!
South Street
in Morristown, NJ, will
bring 4 tubs of ice cream of your choosing, 2 servers and around 10 toppings.
They have over 100 different flavors to choose from and come supplied with
spoons, napkins and tablecloths. They will stay for 1 ½ hours and will travel
to a 30 mile radius around Morristown. There is a 40 person minimum and it
costs $6.50 per person.

There aren’t many options for ice cream party locations in Essex county but there is an ice cream
truck that you can have come to you.
Mike’s Ice Cream
truck of Verona will
come to your house if you live in Essex or Morris County. Somehow the sight of
an ice cream truck makes kids ecstatic…must be the Pavlovian instinct kicking
in when they hear that familiar melody. He charges you what people take from
the truck and a small service fee (which can be waived for large parties). For
20 kids it can come to about $40.

Do It Yourself

If you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Maybe I can do this myself?” Buy your favorite ice cream by
the bulk and serve out of a dressed up cooler filled with dry ice. Rent an
old-fashioned ice cream costume and have daddy serve it. Mini M&M’s and hot
fudge are easy enough to buy. The Internet has great resources from party
planners and every day “Martha-wannabe” moms:

Kids party blogger
Peppers and Pollywogs has wonderful suggestions:
She starts with suggestions for tableware, invitations, favors, crafts/games, etc.
and links to click on so you can buy them. I liked the decoration idea of using
party hats upside down as “cones” and putting different colored balloons inside
to be the “ice cream.”

If you are a bit more
crafty, Dotcomwomen has a great decoration idea for ice cream cones:
also liked their craft idea—using plastic sundae glasses (at dollar stores) and
colored cotton balls to make fake ice cream bowls. For their favor ideas, I
liked the cookies, berry-filled cones, mini scrapbook and Strawberry Shortcake
book ideas the best.

I love this site’s
centerpiece idea:
http://tiny.cc/63GCF: she suggests carnations in sundae
glasses and Ikea has the glasses for cheap (I happen to have them!). This site
has a ton of games you can try and tips on how much ice cream you will need for
the amount of people you expect:

For the real
do-it-yourself advice BirthdayPartyIdeas.com has real moms giving tips and they
will blow you away:
The first honorable mention is Sara from Suffolk, VA, and she put a lot of work
into making it a great birthday party. I love her games—“Cold Cone” and “Ice
Cream Relay” are both easy to recreate. Charlotte, in Rochester, MI had a great
game, too—having the kids catch the ice cream (balloons) with their cones (made
of poster board). I also loved Lynn in Canada (Special Mention)’s idea of a
favor: putting jelly beans in a wafer cone and tying it up  with cellophane.

Whether you go to a local spot or do it at
home, there are wonderful options for throwing a yummy ice cream party for your
child in NJ. You may have some sticky fingers and sugar high reactions but the
smiles and laughter will make it all worth it. 


written for: www.newjerseynewsroom.com

Update: Maggie Moo’s in Ridgewood, NJ also has parties at their location in the basement. They are sort of like Cold Stone Creamery–they mix in toppings into the ice cream. I wasn’t that crazy about the taste, though.