Is your child bummed out or anxious about the start of a new school year? While it’s totally normal for kids of all ages to experience some end-of-summer blues, the good news is that you can make their transition back into school life easier by throwing one last summer bash. Not only will a party give your child a chance to reconnect with school friends before classes start, but planning this event will also take their focus off of any school worries.
Do you want to help your child feel refreshed and excited for a new school year? Check out this guide on how to throw the best back-to-school party.
1. Set a Budget
When it comes to hosting any type of party, it’s always a good idea to map out a budget before you start on the actual planning. The reason why is because then you’ll have a more concrete idea of what you can afford for a venue, entertainment, food, the size of your guest list, and more. While most back-to-school parties are low-key events held at home, there are still plenty of other ways you can plan a bigger bash.
For example, your costs will be a lot higher if you decide to plan a destination party at an amusement park, zoo, sports arena, or another attraction that requires an entrance fee. Even if you have a smaller budget, you can still pull off a party like this as long as every parent agrees to buy a ticket for their child.
After you set a budget, it can be helpful to have a detailed discussion about the party with your child so you can figure out what their priorities are. If they spend a lot of time talking about the decorations, then you can reserve a larger portion of your budget for the setup and skimp a bit in other areas, such as entertainment.
2. Choose a Theme
One of the easiest ways you can get guests pumped up for an event is to give it a theme. When you have a solid idea of what the party will be about, people can have clearer expectations and daydreams about what they’ll wear, what you’ll all be doing, and what the party will look like.
Once you choose a party theme, you can get prepared to announce the party details. That way, every guest will know what they need to do beforehand so they can have the best time. If you’re hosting a pool party, then everyone will know to bring bathing suits and any other fun gear that will keep them comfortable while they swim.
Some people think that back-to-school parties are limited to themes related to class and studying, but your theme should be whatever makes your child the happiest. If your kid isn’t ready to start thinking about school quite yet, then they might want to choose a theme that’ll give them one last hoorah for summertime, such as a luau or superhero party.
3. Send Invitations
Another benefit of choosing a theme is that sending out invitations will be a lot more fun and simpler! The best back-to-school party invitations. will match your theme and give you space to customize your information so guests can know when and where your party will take place. Instead of buying generic cards at the store, taking the time to design your own invitations with your child can be a wonderful bonding experience.
Once your beautiful and colorful invitations arrive in the mail, your child will surely be the buzz of their friend group. Everyone is guaranteed to start counting down the days to your event and they’ll be less worried about the countdown to the start of school. Simply put, having a party at the end of summer is a great way to help ease academic anxieties.
4. Get Decorations
Decorations are the key to transforming any normal house or other venue into a dream party environment. If you’ve chosen a theme, then your decorations will do a lot of work to tie the whole event together and give a great first impression when guests arrive.
Decorating for a party doesn’t have to be expensive if you reuse any old party decor and take advantage of dollar stores. Balloons, streamers, confetti, hats, and banners are just a few of the traditional decorations every party should have, but make sure you try to find some additional pieces that fit your unique party vision.
If you’re doing a back-to-school theme, then you should use props like chalkboards, books, writing utensils, clipboards, rulers, and other school supplies in creative ways. Seeing these supplies in a positive way before school starts could also help ease kids into returning to a classroom setting.
5. Plan Festive Snacks
Parties use up a lot of energy, so you’ll want to keep everyone fueled with delicious snacks. You can always keep things simple by serving standard store-bought party foods like popcorn, chips, candies, fruits, and pretzels, but you can also make your party stand out by preparing special treats. While this will take more effort, the results will be worth it.
One clever twist on bringing an apple to school for the teacher is to make candy apples with yummy toppings like crushed cookies, sprinkles, cereals, or nuts. You could also make your own ‘bookworms’ out of gummy worms and Rice Krispies Treats decorated like books. This guide can give you more snack ideas like how to turn a Twinkie into a school bus.
If your party is going to last more than a few hours, then you’ll also want to provide something more substantial to keep everyone’s stomachs full. Pizza is a party classic because it’s a crowd-pleaser, but feel free to explore other options that are homemade or takeout. For parents on a budget, you can feed a lot of people and save time on the day of the party by making any of these freezer-friendly meals for kids in advance.
6. Prepare Games (And Prizes)
While kids can create their own universes from nothing when they hang out, you should still be prepared with some game ideas and awesome prizes to keep the party exciting. For younger kids, you can always rely on classics like musical chairs, bingo, and duck, duck, goose. Some fun prizes could be coloring kits, storybooks, and clever candies like Smarties and Nerds. Be sure to play multiple rounds so everyone has a chance to win.
For older kids, you can plan more advanced games like Jeopardy, a scavenger hunt, Apples to Apples, and Scattergories to get their brains ready to go for the new school year. If you make these games focused on topics that aren’t related to school, everyone can have fun firing up their senses without even realizing that these games are great warmups for the classroom.
For more game inspiration, you can check out this list that will guarantee there’s never a dull moment at your party.
7. Arts and Crafts Are Also Great Activities
If you’re going to have a lot of young kids running around, then it would be nice to have some quiet time booked into your schedule so everyone can take it easy. Arts and crafts never fail to take up all of kids’ attention and the finished products serve as wonderful party favors.
Depending on which crafts you choose, the kids could even end up using them at school to brighten up their day. For example, if you get a bunch of blank notebooks, you could set up a craft station where everyone can paint their own masterpieces on the covers, then they can use the notebooks to write in during class. To amp up the creativity, you can also have extras like glitter, stickers, pom-poms, googly eyes, and other fun things to glue on their design.
Parents will also be happy to learn that there are tons of arts and crafts projects that don’t require a lot of supplies. This guide can introduce you to some fantastic arts and crafts ideas that kids of all ages will love.
8. Set Up a Photoshoot Area
Some kids love having the opportunity to dress up nicely for school picture day while others enjoy taking goofier photos. Since school photo day usually takes place at the beginning of the year, you can get everyone ready for the spotlight by having a ‘practice run’ at the party. Not only will the kids have a blast modeling and being silly with their pals, but their parents will also be grateful for all the photos.
One of the best tips for taking photos is to have a bunch of props that can help the kids look more relaxed around the camera. You can have props that match your party theme or ones that are all about going back to school. Photoshoots can be a lot more exciting if you have a fun party playlist that makes everyone want to dance.
If your party is for older children, you might get better photos if you give them some privacy and allow them to direct the photoshoot themselves. They’ll be sure to appreciate the creative setup and let their wackiest selves come out when they’re just having fun with their friends.
9. Make Sure Parents Can Join the Fun
Depending on how old your child and their friends are, parents might want to stick around to supervise, socialize, and snap candid photos of the festivities. If your party will be more intimate, you can feel free to reach out to all the parents and ask if they plan on hanging around so you can prepare special activities for the adults. If you’re having a larger gathering, it’s smart to just assume that at least a few adults will stay and set up some general entertainment that adults will enjoy.
If your party is for young children, then parents will appreciate having a snack table designed for more mature palates. While most people won’t complain about PB&J finger sandwiches or trail mix, you can make a nice impression by going the extra mile for your older guests.
In addition to having some sophisticated snacks, you could also set up a casual game table where adults can socialize and do fun activities that won’t take up all their attention. This can help prevent any awkward moments of silence while still allowing everyone to keep an eye on the little ones.
10. Send Everyone Home With Back-to-School Goodie Bags
Since planning the rest of your party will take a lot of time and care, goodie bags aren’t necessary, but they’re always a nice gesture. Since this party will be all about ringing in the new school year, you also have the opportunity to get clever with the contents. One easy way you can present the goodie bags is in brown paper bags that kids use to pack their lunch. Instead of finding a boring sandwich and fruit inside, everyone will be surprised to see other treats.
You can keep your goodie bags traditional by packing them with candy and other little gifts or you can stuff a few useful school items inside as well. For example, you could take your child shopping and have them pick out some matching notebooks that they can share with their friends during the school year. Taking notes might be boring, but class will be more special if your child and their friends can bond with matching supplies that remind them of happy summer memories.
Although there are no rules when it comes to filling goodie bags, it’s best to make every bag the same so there’s no jealousy among the friend group. Writing every guest’s name on each bag will make the gifts feel more personal. However, making every bag identical takes the stress out of accident mix-ups if a child grabs the wrong bag.
Now You Know How to Plan a Back-to-School Party for Any Age
Back-to-school parties are always an incredible way to say goodbye to summer and get ready for a new school year. If you follow this guide, you can ensure that your child and their friends will feel confident and excited to hit the books again.
Greetings Island is all about making every gathering special. Whether you need invitations or cards, we can help you plan for any occasion. Check out our collection of party invitations so you can start planning your next celebration.