Besides Christmas, the start of school every fall may be the most wonderful time of the year— at least for parents! But for kiddos, going back to school after the freedom of summer vacation can be a sad and dreary time. They may not exactly be looking forward to getting back into the routine of early mornings, homework, and long school days. To help make the transition more fun and exciting, turn it into a celebratory event! Back to school parties are an ongoing trend that many kids and parents enjoy as a way to close out the summer and open a new chapter in the year. To throw your own back to school bash, try out one of these special party themes that kids will love!
PARTY IDEA 1#: Throw a “School’s in Session Party”!
This is a great party idea to help acclimate kids who are reluctant to go back to school or little ones who are about to go to school for the first time.
First, send invitations to fellow classmates. Fill your child’s party with their favorite classmates, both the friends they’ve been hanging with all summer and students they may not have been able to see since the school year ended. If you know the roster for the school year, you could even invite guests your children haven’t met yet as a way to start new friendships early. E-vites are a simple, fast way to get the word out about your back to school party. If you opt for paper invitations, Punchbowl.com offers cute academia-themed cards decorated with crayons, school buses, apples, and more. For an added touch, include a printed “lunch menu” (more on that below) just like they’d bring home from school!
Then get your “classroom” ready with some education-related decorations! Back to school décor is easy to create. There are a number of standard school themes you can use to turn a room in your home into a do-it-yourself classroom for little party guests; maps, pencils, apples, books, chalkboards, and the alphabet are all gold-star options, and simple to set up. To set up your classroom theme, try these quick ideas:
- Put “bouquets” of pencils or crayons on tables, either in vases or tied together with string;
- Hang a large map on one wall, and alphabet banners across doorways and windows;
- Cut large pencils or rulers out of cardboard and construction paper. Use them as wall decorations, or let kids take “school pictures” with these props;
- Place globes and stacked books as centerpieces on food tables and other locations around the room;
- Use small chalkboards to label activity stations and food items.
For even more clever ideas, check out iheartnaptime.com.
After your room is ready, plan a school lunch menu! Set up your dining room or another room in your house like a school lunch room! Let kids line up and be served their choice of delicious a la carte items (which will probably be much better than actual cafeteria food!). In case it’s been awhile for you, “classic” school lunches can include:
- Chicken nuggets
- Fruit cups
- Milk cartons
- Chocolate chip cookies
Serve your menu items on divided trays or plates, available for cheap at most Dollar Tree stores, for an even more authentic cafeteria experience!
Finally, “play” the day away at school! Although your back to school party is education-themed, kids aren’t going to want to do homework the whole time! Having a list of fun school games to play will keep kids entertained and get their minds working at the same time. Organize your games like “classes,” with a specific class theme and a school bell to announce the start of each new activity!
- English class: Print copies of this Back to School Word Search and let kids race to find all the hidden words.
- Art class: Set up a painting station, or let kids draw on the sidewalk with colored chalk. Ask them to draw images of things they did over the summer, or what they’re looking forward to about the new school year.
- Math class: Play a game of Bingo, letting kids match up the called-out numbers until they yell “Bingo!” (or a school word, like “Recess!”) when they’ve matched a corr3ec line of numbers.
- Shop class: With crayons, glue, construction paper, and clean empty cans, let kids “build” their own pencil holders.
- Gym class: Get outside with a physical activity like Red Rover, Dodgeball, or Capture the Flag!
For games that warrant prizes, or for fun party favors, hand out supplies to help kids get prepared for school. Small items like marker sets, notebooks, and erasers are both cool and necessary!
PARTY IDEA #2: Host a “Back to School Book Swap”!
A Back to School book swap is probably even easier to organize than a School’s in Session party! The main premise is simply to let kids bring their old books to a central location, and exchange them for other books kids have brought to the swap. Here are a few suggestions for making the book swap both fun to attend and low-maintenance to throw together:
- Send invitations with clear instructions about how the book swap will work. For example, each child brings X number books and can swap for X number of books; each child should bring X kinds of books to share, etc.
- Set up a large table or clear floor space where kids can sit in a circle and put their books in the center. Create name tags (just like they’d find on their desks at school!) and place accordingly so everyone has a clear place to sit and sift through books.
- Offer refreshments in the form of brown bagged lunches. Each child can receive a brown bag filled with a PB & J sandwich, brownies, apples or baby carrots, chips, etc. This way no one goes hungry, and food prep and cleanup is really easy on you! (And you stay in keeping with the subtle school theme!)
- Let kids take turns picking so everyone has a fair chance to go home with some great books.
- After the swapping is finished, offer up some comfy pillows and blankets so kids can get comfy and peruse their “new” library additions!
PARTY IDEA #3: Have an “End of Summer Extravaganza”!
The final party theme to get your kids ready to go back to school is a big one! To close out summer with a bang, why have not have a huge “End of Summer Extravaganza”? This party is basically a final hurrah before the kids head back to school, giving them the opportunity to do one last fun summer activity— and hopefully get out some of their summer energy so they settle down for the classroom!
Your End of Summer Extravaganza can include whatever you and your children love the most about summer, but should of course include lots of friends and fun activities! Here are a few ideas for blow-out bashes that we love the most:
- Throw a backyard party or block party with games, inflatables, and some delicious end of summer grilling! Bounce houses, concession machines, balloon animals, and similar entertainment ideas make it feel like kids have their very own carnival at home.
- Spend the day getting soaked at a water park! Tackle huge water slides, ride the wave pool, and tube through waterways while you spend a last family day beating the summer heat. If you don’t live near a waterpark, bring one to you with sprinklers and Slip N Slides in the backyard.
- Have a back to school fashion show. After all the new school clothes and supplies have been picked out, create a runaway in your living room or hallway, complete with runway lights (flashlights work fine!) and upbeat music so kids can strut their stuff and get hyped about their new school purchases!
- Enjoy some end of summer sports. Whether you catch a late-season baseball game, or an early scrimmage of your favorite football team, take family and friends for a sporty outing. Fill up on hotdogs, popcorn, and other great treats while everyone hangs out in the stands!
- Watch a movie marathon. Simple, easy, and stress-free— enjoy a final relaxing day before the start of school by watching everyone’s favorite movies. Remember to chow down on popcorn and candy during viewing! This is a great way to enjoy each other’s company before the hectic school schedule begins. For an even bigger event, rent a movie screen for an outdoor theater experience!
Whichever way you choose to celebrate the end of summer, give your kids an awesome memory to take with them when they head back to school!