Cold drinks are basically a must for any party and one of the easiest and best ways to keep drinks cold at a party is in a cooler or bucket filled with ice.
If you’re concerned your cold drinks won’t stay cold for long enough, not to worry because there are easy and inexpensive methods that are guaranteed to help your cold items stay cold for a lot longer.
Even without any extra measures, some ice chests often keep cold items cold all day long, but to be on the safe side, below are some great suggestions that help keep cold drinks and other items colder for much longer.
Use a Cooler
The best and easiest way to keep ice for longer at a party is to use a cooler, ideally a high-quality cooler.
If you just put your drinks in ice in some thing like a stainless steel bucket this isn't going to keep the ice frozen for very long as the outside heat can easily and quickly melt the ice.
A cooler adds insulation between the ice and the outside air helping the ice stay cold and frozen for longer.
The higher quality your cooler the better and thicker the insulation will be and the longer your ice will last at your party.
A basic Styrofoam cooler or cheap ice chest from your local hardware store might keep ice for 0.5-1 day where is a high-end cooler like a Yeti will keep ice for 3 to 5 days.
It is worth it for you to research the many different types of coolers that are now available to find the one that’s right for you. For starters check out my article on the coolers that hold ice the longest.
Keep the Lid of Your Cooler Closed
As much as possible, keep the lid of your cooler closed.
This is difficult if you have a lot of people at your party, but it’s a great way to keep the items in your cooler at a low temperature for much longer.
If you want a little added assurance, line the inside of the cooler with an insulating material made specifically to keep everything inside of it cold. A piece of foam or even a sheet of plastic or cardboard can do the trick.
Keep Your Ice in the Shade
Once you get your cooler filled with nice cold ice, do your best to keep it in the shade as much as possible.
Even if it’s a sunny day, you can still keep everything inside of the cooler nice and cold for quite some time by keeping it out of the direct sun.
Use Larger Blocks of Ice
The larger the ice blocks are, the longer they’ll take to melt, which means your ice will stay frozen at your party for longer and the food and drinks inside the cooler will stay cold longer.
Try freezing water in large items such as empty ice cream containers or even large resealable bags. Old water bottles and milk jugs are also a great way to create large blocks of ice.
These are much bigger than standard ice cubes and will take longer to start melting.
There are even ice cube trays that make extra-large ice cubes that you can use as well.
Freeze Balloons Filled with Water to Make Big Round Ice Cubes
There are other ways to make larger ice blocks, and one is to freeze balloons that are filled with water and use those as your ice blocks.
These make your cooler look colorful, which is great for parties but also the balloon plastic stops your cooler from filling up with water as the ice starts to melt.
The round shape of the balloons is also optimal for minimizing the surface area the ice is exposed to and thus making the ice last longer.
It's a great way to make a lot of large ice cubes cheaply and it works great for parties. Add in some loose ice around the balloon ice if you need to.
Pre-Chill All Your Food and Drinks
Once of the quickest way to melt the ice at your party is to place room temperature drinks in it.
Sure ice is great at quickly cooling down drinks at a party but room temperature drinks add A LOT of heat energy into a cooler or ice bucket and melt your ice much quicker than it would otherwise.
If possible pre-chill your drinks in the fridge before placing them in your cooler. This will mean the ice won't need to cool down your drinks nearly as much as thus your ice will last much much longer.
Use Dry Ice at the Bottom of Your Cooler
Dry ice is EXTREMELY cold (-109ºF or -78ºC) and it can be a great way to supplement regular ice at a party.
Get a couple of blocks of dry ice and place them on the bottom of your cooler and then place your regular ice on top of it and lastly put your drinks and food on top of the regular ice.
DO NOT place drinks directly onto dry ice as they will freeze. You also don't want to use a huge amount of dry ice as it'll make your cooler too cold and all your drinks will freeze. Just use a small amount.
Also, be careful as dry ice can burn your skin. This shouldn't be used at a party with kids.
Use a High-End Cooler to Keep Ice Longer
Different coolers perform differently, and spending a little more money on your next cooler is never a decision you’ll regret.
The higher-end coolers are simply made better from the inside out and are built to last and to work exceptionally well.
You'll have to spend a bit more but you won’t regret it, especially once you see how long your food stays cold.
Pre-Chill Your Cooler
Just like pre-chilling your food, you can pre-chill your cooler as well.
There are two main ways to do this.
The first is put the cooler in the freezer until the next morning. If you have a walk-in freezer, this method works great.
The second method is to put blocks of ice inside the cooler the night before your party. This will cool down the insulation so it doesn't melt your ice quickly at your party.
Use a Yeti Tank Cooler Bucket
The Yeti tank cooler bucket comes in several different sizes, and the biggest one holds up to 60 longnecks, 50 blue crabs, or 98 slices of watermelon.
These buckets are also made out of the same high-quality materials as all of the Yeti coolers, so you can count on them to work great every time you use yours.
With features such as non-slip feet and commercial-grade polyurethane walls, this is one cooler that will never disappoint.