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Here's how much ice you really need for your summer party

And everything else you need to know about party ice

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This might seem like a simple question, but how much ice should you get for your party? The answer changes depending on what you’re serving, where you’re serving it, and how many guests you’re having. We’re here to help take the guesswork out of your party planning, so you can get back to grilling and entertaining.

How much ice should go in a punch bowl?

When you think about summer parties, the punch bowl is a staple. It comes down to a matter of physics and flavor. The more surface area the ice has, the faster it melts, allowing water to dilute the flavor. We have solutions to each problem.

If you’re going to use a punch bowl, use larger chunks of ice. Try freezing water in a Tupperware container to create a large ice block. The lower surface area of an ice block means it’ll melt slower and dilute less.

Flavored Ice
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

If you freeze some of your punch, you can chill the beverage without diluting it.

In terms of flavor, flavored ice cubes can keep your drink cold without watering down the taste when they melt. We’re especially fond of putting tomato juice ice cubes into a Bloody Mary. Spiked cubes probably won’t freeze, but you can freeze some of the base ingredients. (This also works great for iced coffee and tea!)

How many bags of ice should I get?

If your guests like full cups of ice, then plan on getting about four pounds of ice per guest.

A perusal of various “party calculators” average out to about two pounds of ice per guest. But there’s no information about how they came to that conclusion, so we did an informal survey of my office about how much ice they’d want in a drink on an 80°F day. The responses ranged from no ice to a full glass. In general, more was better than less. Taking that into account, we figured seven ounces to be the ideal, which is about 80% of a Solo cup. If someone drinks three drinks an hour over the course of a three-hour party, that works out to four pounds of ice per guest. That means to serve 20 guests, you’ll need eight 10-pound bags.

What ice works best with summer cocktails?

Nugget Ice
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Nugget ice does well at a small gathering.

If you’re having a smaller, low-key party that allows for crafted cocktails, there are a lot of options for ice.

Nugget ice is a fan favorite. It’s a chewable form of ice that won’t hurt your teeth. Reviewed has actually experimented making cocktails with nugget ice, and we can say that whether it’s a mint julep or a mojito, they can be way more drinkable when you can just chomp on the ice.

Clear ice can be made by freezing water inside a plastic cooler.

When you’re talking about brown liquor, perfectly clear ice is a nice element since it accents the bright colors of the drink. You can make clear ice at home by simply filling a small cooler with water and freezing it without the top. Cloudiness in ice is largely caused by trapped air and the cooler causes the air to be forced out.

Related content

How much ice should you put in coolers?

You should put in twice as much ice compared to what you're trying to chill.

The general rule of thumb is to pack twice as much as you have contents. That means if the drinks or steaks take up about a quarter of the available space, then the ice should take up about half the cooler.

The cooler manufacturer Yeti suggests using a mixture of blocks of ice and chips to help cool items down quickly and for a prolonged period of time.

Drippy ice forms when it 32°F and is fine for cooling drinks, but nearing the danger zone for food preservation.

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