Trashcan Milkshakes

The list of things in this world I like better than a good milkshake is rather short. Among a few others, that short list includes: meeting new teens and blowing people’s minds. Which is why I love trashcan milkshakes – it combines milkshakes, new teens and blown minds.

What Were You Thinking?

The mission was simple: meet new teens.

Nothing draws in teens like food and things that are messy. So we thought: “Let’s take the most delicious thing we can think of, and make it super messy.”

Ok, not really, but we did brainstorm about what kind of food would make a person we’ve never met walk across a parking lot and talk with us. It had to be delicious (obviously) and it had to be intriguing enough that people wanted to know more about it – and it had to be cheap.

A trashcan full of milkshake met all three requirements.

Where Do You Serve It?

We’ve used trashcan milkshakes in a variety of venues/situations:

  • Standing on the sidewalk after Mass – an hour of “sit, stand, kneel” works up quite a thirst.
  • On the sidelines of a football game – it doesn’t matter how bad your team is losing when you’re drinking a chocolate milkshake.
  • In a school parking lot after school – 3pm is the perfect time for a milkshake!
  • At a summer kick off event – nothing says school’s out like a cup of melted chocolate deliciousness.

It doesn’t matter where – if there’s teens and it’s above freezing outside, milkshakes are always a hit.

How Do You Make It?

It’s super simple. The recipe is easy, and the equipment is cheap.

  1. Start off with a large, aluminum trashcan (go and ahead and crack open your wallet and spring for a brand new one). Grab some dish soap and bleach and scrub it out really well.
  2. You’ll also need a boat paddle. Or you can up your game and buy a cement mixing attachment for an electric drill. Either way, make sure you thoroughly scrub and bleach your tool of choice.
  3. Scoop out 16 gallons of chocolate ice cream into the bottom of the dry trash can. Your life will be way easier if you move the ice cream from the freezer to the fridge several hours ahead of time.
  4. Pour in 10-12 gallons of milk.
  5. Crank up the cement mixer or start stirring. (If you didn’t pre-melt your ice cream in the fridge, you might want to alternate adding and mixing the ice cream and milk a few gallons at a time.)
  6. Use a plastic water pitcher to scoop out and pour milkshake into plastic or styrofoam cups.

Crank It Up a Notch

Looking to take your trashcan milkshakes to the next level? Here’s a few tips/ideas:

  • Print your ministry’s logo and a promo for an upcoming event on the styrofoam cups your serving the shakes in. Or even better: put a keyword for students to text in to join your text list.
  • Top your shakes with whipped cream and a cherry for a classy touch.
  • Go super-chocolatey by adding a bottle or two of chocolate syrup to the trashcan.
  • Blend 30-40 bananas in a few gallons of milk and add it to the mix.
  • Everyone loves sprinkles.
  • Get a larger, Rubbermaid trashcan (large enough to fit the aluminum can inside) on wheels and fill the bottom with a mixture of ice, water and rock salt. Put your aluminum trashcan in the ice (and add additional ice down the sides) – it’ll keep you milkshakes from melting and make it easier to move if you need to.
  • If you’re doing it after school or at a football game, order “It’s trashcan milkshake day.” shirts and have students where them to school that day.

There you go, the secret recipe to one of my favorite outreach tools ever! What about you: what do you do to meet new teens?

Michael Marchand

Michael is a Catholic evangelist, author and speaker.

After spending 11 years as a parish youth minister, Michael left parish ministry to work full-time with ProjectYM (a ministry he cofounded a few years earlier).

Michael's resume also includes preaching gigs at events and conferences around the world, a Catholic theology degree, authoring a book on Catholic evangelization, years of training and consulting with parish/diocesan leaders on technology and social media, countless online projects, and the founding of 2 ProjectYM mission bases: one in Uganda and one in Chattanooga, TN.

Michael is blessed to be part of an amazing missionary family. Michael, his beautiful wife (Crystal) and four kids serve the local Church in Chattanooga, TN.


Michael Marchand


Michael is a Catholic evangelist, author and speaker.

After spending 11 years as a parish youth minister, Michael left parish ministry to work full-time with ProjectYM (a ministry he cofounded a few years earlier).

Michael's resume also includes preaching gigs at events and conferences around the world, a Catholic theology degree, authoring a book on Catholic evangelization, years of training and consulting with parish/diocesan leaders on technology and social media, countless online projects, and the founding of 2 ProjectYM mission bases: one in Uganda and one in Chattanooga, TN.

Michael is blessed to be part of an amazing missionary family. Michael, his beautiful wife (Crystal) and four kids serve the local Church in Chattanooga, TN.



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