The holiday season can be fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful. Preparing meals for family and friends, cleaning the house, and running to the grocery store to get everything you need can create a big to-do list. However, there’s a few holiday hacks that can make party planning a bit easier. This list of party preparation secrets needs only one super affordable ingredient: ice!
17 Holiday Hacks: Using Ice to Make Party Planning Easy
You can use ice for a lot more than just chilling drinks. Let’s take a look at a few inventive ways to use ice and make party preparations easier. These 17 holiday hacks can help you cook meals, prepare creative centerpieces, and even clean up before and after the party.
A couple easy calculations can help you determine how much ice you need for your party, but an extra bag of ice will ensure you have plenty of ice for your party, as well as these holiday hacks.
Skip the ice-making and get the most affordable bagged ice near you
Get the ICE2U app >
1. Fancy Drinks with Fancy Ice
Dressing up your cocktails or creative non-alcoholic drinks is easy with fancy ice. This will not only add to the appearance of your cocktails, but also add a bit of subtle flavor. Add a spiraled orange peel or cucumber slice, mint leaf, or even edible flowers to give your drink menu pizzazz.
You don’t need to freeze hundreds of ice cubes to make special drinks, either; simply freeze a few fancy ice cubes in your freezer and add them to your bagged ice cubes to speed up this process.
2. Chilled Drinks
Chilling drinks is the most obvious use of ice cubes. But, getting the right type of ice for the right drinks can make a big difference when it comes to dressing up your cocktails. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but are generally good guidelines for choosing the right ice with the right drinks:
- Crushed ice: Crushed ice is generally great for drinks in taller glasses with a bit more sweetness, like margaritas, daiquiris, moscow mules, juleps, smashes or hurricane.
- Ice cubes: Regular ice cubes are ideal for go-to cocktails that use relatively simple ingredients, like a gin and tonic, vodka soda, or aperol spritz.
- Ice spheres: Ice spheres have the least exposed surface area, so, all other factors being equal, they melt slowest of any shape. This makes ice spheres great for very pure drinks that shouldn’t be watered down too much, like bourbon or scotch on the rocks, a negroni, or an old-fashioned.
3. Smooth Dips
Sometimes, you can follow the recipe perfectly, but your bean dip or home-made hummus still turns out grainy. Many different professional chefs and home chefs have sworn by a particular strategy that doubles as a great holiday hack; add an ice cube!
As you blend your dip ingredients, the ice cube lends moisture and air, which helps the dip become smooth and fluffy. This is a great party preparation tip for dips that should be smooth and uniform, like hummus, pesto, yogurt dip, bean dip, dill pickle dip, chip dip, and more. However, don’t use this trick if your dip is supposed to have some variation, like guacamole, spinach dip, or crab dip.
4. Uncurdled Sauces
Homemade gravy, cheese sauce, Hollandaise, alfredo, and many more, are popular hits at a wide range of holiday feasts with family and friends. Whether you’re attempting these recipes for the first time, or you’ve made them many times before, they don’t always turn out the way you expected.
Mixing water, oils, and proteins that so many sauces require can be a difficult balance. Often, heating up a sauce too quickly can cause a sauce to curdle or break. If you notice this happening, removing the sauce from the heat and adding ice cubes can bring the temperature down quickly and stop the sauce from further breaking or curdling. This is one holiday hack that can save the sauce and also save you time and energy!
5. Low-Fat Soups
Many different soup broths get part of their flavor from the fats or oils in the soup. However, if there’s more fat in your broth than you’d like and you want to slim down your soup in a hurry, ice can help.
One way to separate the fat from your dish is the refrigerate it; the fat will solidify and form a layer over the dish, which you can remove, if you choose. But, if you’re ready to serve your dish and you don’t have time for it to cool or refrigerate, try this holiday hack instead: fill a ladle with ice, skim it over the surface of the soup, and remove the layer that solidifies on the ladle. Then, repeat the process until your soup or other dish is as clear as you’d like.
6. Removing Dents in Carpet
If you’re getting ready for a holiday party, you may be moving some furniture and making room for more seats. This furniture might not normally get moved around very much, so it may have left dents in the carpet.
You could spend some unpleasant time on your hands and knees trying to scrub these dents out of the carpet, or you could use this holiday hack; put an ice cube on it! The moisture and temperature difference in the ice cube will revive the carpet fibers somewhat. Then, you can simply scrub the carpet a few times with your hand or foot, and the fibers should bounce back.
7. Cleaning Stains Off Tupperware
Holiday celebrations usually mean leftovers, which means some of your Tupperware or other containers will inevitably be stained with tomato sauce, turmeric, wine sauce, or something similar. These yellowish stains will often stick to containers even after they go through the dishwasher, making them look dirty, even when they’re clean! Spending hours scrubbing these containers isn’t an option, but throwing out your favorite containers isn’t great either. This holiday hack can help!
Different stains can call for different solutions. But many stains can be solved by this relatively simple holiday hack; combine a layer of sugar, a layer of ice, and some dish soap into the container. Let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes, or until the ice melts. Then, when you dump the contents into the sink and wipe the inside of the container, the stain should wipe off as well.
8. Easy Coffee Pot Cleaning
Stains on your coffee pot can be tough to scrub off. Clean your coffee pot using a combination of ice and salt, and make it like-new again. Make sure your coffee pot is at room temperature before you try this hack.
9. Chilling Salads
Egg salad or other appetizers that use mayonnaise or eggs can quickly go bad if they’re left out. Put these appetizers on ice to keep them chilled throughout your party.
10. Cool Baking Sheets
If you’re making batches of cookies, pies, or pastries, place an ice pack or ice-filled bags on a baking sheet to cool it down quickly between batches.
11. Holiday Smoothies
When it comes to holiday parties, hot drinks are usually a go-to. But holiday smoothies with a bit of ice, yogurt, fruit, and other ingredients can be a festive and healthy drink to enjoy.
12. Homemade Ice Cream
You can make your own ice cream at home using just cream, sugar, flavoring, and ice. Create your own holiday-themed ice cream flavors with ingredients like pumpkin, cranberries, or peppermint. This personal touch can be a delicious treat for your guests.
13. Decorative Ice Buckets
Use ice to fill a decorative bucket to keep bottled beverages like wine, champagne, or sparkling water chilled. You can use almost any container, and simply put a plastic bag inside to keep the water and ice from escaping.
14. Ice Coffee or Cocoa
For winter holidays, create iced coffee or cocoa cubes that can be added to hot beverages to cool them down without diluting them.
15. Flavored Ice Cubes
Create flavored ice cubes by fruit juices, or herbs in ice cube trays. These can add a burst of flavor to your beverages.
16. Festive Ice Ring
Make a decorative ice ring by freezing cranberries, citrus slices, and fresh herbs in a bundt pan. Float this ring in a punch bowl or large pitcher for a festive touch.
17. Ice-Cooled Appetizers
When serving cold appetizers like shrimp cocktail, arrange them on a bed of crushed ice to keep them fresh and chilled, while also creating a pleasant centerpiece on your table.
These holiday hacks can help you create a memorable and enjoyable holiday experience, and also help you save time and energy. Take advantage of these party preparation secrets with ice, and simplify your serving and clean-up. Find your closest ice vending machine using the ICE2U app, and get the ice your need fast, while paying less.