At the end of each school year, there's usually a lot of hoopla surrounding the start of summer. Schools hold carnivals. Families throw picnics and pool parties. It's one big celebration.
With a little planning, the end of summer and start of the school year can be just as much fun. Here are some ideas for throwing a back to school party that will help the kids look forward to the year. You might even turn one of these suggestions into a family tradition that gets repeated year after year.
1. Host a Back to School Party for a Cause
School supply shopping can put a strain on family’s budget. If your family and friends are in a position to help others, how about throwing a backpack-stuffing party with your kids?
Ask each guest to bring a particular item—glue sticks, paper, pens, etc. Provide backpacks (either new or gently used) and set up an assembly line for the kids to fill the bags with supplies.
After the work is done, let the kids play and eat.
At the end of the party, deliver the backpacks to your local YWCA, school district office or other program that helps kids in need.
Tip: Call those organizations ahead of time to find out their needs. School supply lists can vary, and they might even be able to tell you how many girls and how many boys they'll be serving.
2. Throw a Back to School Bash
Put an end to summer vacation with a school-themed party.
Serve food in brown paper lunch sacks. Menu items could include sandwiches, cartons of milk and red apples.
Play school-themed music, such as “Wonderful World” by Sam Cookie.
Decorate with chalkboards, globes, stacks of textbooks and flashcards.
Play traditional schoolyard games such as tag, foursquare, dodgeball, tetherball and kickball.
For dessert, serve caramel apples, an apple-shaped cake or a cake shaped like an old-fashioned schoolhouse and painted red.
If you’re looking for more school-themed party ideas, check out this vintage schoolhouse bridal shower and this story about how to throw a school-themed birthday. Many of the ideas could be applied to a party for kids.
3. Host a Backyard Campout
Soon enough, the weather will turn cold and the schedule will be filled with soccer lessons, field trips and homework assignments. Better squeeze in a night of backyard camping before it’s too late.
You’ll need tents, air mattresses, sleeping bags and coolers with ice. Serve hot dogs, hamburgers, cut fruit and vegetables, chips and s’mores.
Set up an outdoor movie theater and play a film with a school setting such as Grease or High School Musical.
4. Hold a Back to School Fashion Show
Once all the back-to-school clothes shopping is done, have your child invite friends over for a fashion show.
Set up a catwalk, turn down the lights, play some techno music and hand everyone a flashlight so they can illuminate whoever is strutting their stuff.
Serve bottled water, cut fruits and vegetables, tea sandwiches and cut-out cookies shaped like dresses or high-heel shoes.
An alternative to this is to have all the kids bring gently worn clothes they no longer want. They could exchange the secondhand clothes with each other to freshen up their wardrobes or could pool all the clothes together and donate the outfits to kids in need.
5. Go Team!
In late August and early September, most high school football teams are playing scrimmages on their schools' practice fields. Elementary and middle school-age kids might enjoy watching the teens play.
Find out the scrimmage schedule, then arrange for your children and their friends to attend a game together. Pack sub sandwiches, easy-to-eat fruit (such as grapes), popcorn and crispy rice cereal treats shaped like footballs (use licorice or fruit leather for the football laces).
Before the get together, tell the kids to wear the school’s colors. Bring along a football for the kids to toss around after the game is over.
6. Plan Your Own Family Tradition
Back-to-school season is a chance for fresh starts. Why not launch your own ritual that celebrates new beginnings?
- Make a scrapbook together for the upcoming school year. Create the first pages, but leave most of the book blank so it can be filled throughout the year.
- Serve a special breakfast on the first day of school or pick a restaurant where you’ll eat on the first day every year.
- Spend a day filling the freezer with make-ahead dinners and lunch snacks, such as homemade granola bars and healthy cookies. Give each child a new apron, a tradition that could be repeated every year.
- Plant a tree in the yard. Do so every year and by the time your kids head off to college you’ll have a small forest that will remind you of their time in school.