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Throwing a Back-to-School Bash

Studio 5 Party, Holiday and Idea Contributor Alisa Bangerter shares five, fun themed party ideas.


ABC PARTY
A great party theme for preschool and younger elementary aged kids.

Invitations:

" A small chalkboard with the invite written on it with chalk or a white paint pen.
" Send an invitation that states: "You are invited to B at my A+ party! C you there!"
" Tie a set of alphabet magnets, die cut letters or a sheet of alphabet stickers onto an invitation that states: "Come to a party that will be filled with fun from A-Z" or something similar.
" Find scrapbook paper or create your own paper that has an alphabet background and use as part of an invitation.
" Write an invitation on a small brown lunch bag.
" Send your invitation on the back of an alphabet flashcard.

Décor:

" Decorate using primary colors (red, blue, yellow) as well as green and black.
" Place standing chalkboards around the room with the alphabet written on them.
" Hang large cardstock letters form the ceiling or place around walls.
" Paint the alphabet on the driveway or sidewalk using tempra paint or sidewalk chalk.

Food:

" Use alphabet cookie cutters to cut cookies, sandwiches, Jello Jigglers, etc. A fun treat is to cut letters form flour tortilla shells, brush with butter and cinnamon sugar and bake until crisp.
" Serve alphabet soup.
" Make a salad using alphabet pasta.
" Serve food on divided cafeteria like trays.
" A simple cupcake would be to frost it yellow, place on top a chocolate covered graham cracker with ABC written on it with white icing (looks like a chalkboard), add a white tic-tac candy on the cupcake to look like chalk and a red Runt candy to look like and apple with a tiny piece of green gumdrop for the leaf.

Games and Activities:

" Use Alpha-Bits cereal and give each child a pile. Set a timer and let them create as many school related words they can using the cereal in the time allotted. Give a prize to who can make the most words. An easier version would be to hold up a simple word and let the kids find the letters in their pile of cereal and the first to spell that word wins a point. ABC macaroni could also be used.
" Use a magnet board and magnetic alphabet letters. Mix the letters up in a large group on the board. Remove a letter and see who can identify fastest which letter is missing.
" Read aloud a fun alphabet themed book. One of my favorites is Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault.
" Have preschool children make the letters of the alphabet using their bodies. Hold up a flash card with a letter of the alphabet and see how many they can make.
" Play a matching game where kids match the letters to items that start with the letter. Similar to concentration.
" Play alphabet bingo. Use letters on the card instead of words.
" Make a time capsule that can be opened at the end of the school year. Have a form each child fills in about their summer, wishes for the upcoming year, likes, dislikes, etc. Have children bring and include things from home such as photos, ephemera, souvenirs, etc.
" Have a "summer show and tell." Let kids tell about their summer activities. Have each choose a letter out of a basket and they must include something to do with that letter from their summer adventures. For example if they choose the letter "M" they could say they saw a moose at a lake.

Favors:

" Anything with an alphabet theme.
" Backpack tags or zipper pulls.
" Boxes of crayons.

BOOK WORM PARTY This party would work well for older elementary age kids or tweens.

Invitations:

" Attach an invitation to an inexpensive paper back book.
" Send an invitation that is printed on a bookmark.
" Tie an invitation to the stem of an apple and include a small package of gummy worms.
" Ask kids to bring pillows and a favorite book and a snack to share.
" Have guests come dressed as a character from a book.

Décor:

" Use apples as part of the theme and décor for this party. Place in bowls or vases.
" Stack text books or thick chapter books around the room.

Food:

" Serve cut apples with caramel or marshmallow fruit dip. Serve different types and colors of apples.
" Serve apple cupcakes with a gummy worm hanging out of it. Simple frost cupcakes red, place a pretzel stick it the top to create a stem and roll a green gumdrop flat for a leaf.
" Serve snacks in a brown paper lunch bag. Serve school lunch type food including cartons of juice or milk, granola bars, small containers of fruit or yogurt, sandwiches, etc.
" Bake cupcakes and wrap the title of a book in foil and insert one in each before icing. This is a fun way for each child to receive a book as a favor.

Games and Activities:

" Decorate brown paper lunch sacks using stickers, markers, etc. for the kids to use for their actual school lunches. Let kids decorate about 5-10 each.
" Have a mini read-a-thon.
" Decorate or make fleece pillows as a craft.
" A trip to the library with everyone could be a fun part of this party.
" Make bookmarks.
" Have a silly word spelling bee.
" Decorate book bags. Apple stamping using acrylic paint would work well.
" Older kids might like to decorate textbook covers. Use kraft paper and stickers, markers, etc.
" Play musical books. Set this up like musical chairs. When the music stops the person grabs a book under the chair and reads it until the music starts again.
" Read a story and let the kids create a cover or illustrations for it.
" Have the kids write a short story using two characters that meet from different books. For example Harry Potter meets Cinderella.
" Have a book scavenger hunt. Divide kids into two teams and see which team can find the page first of certain items such as where a character appears or events in the book.

Favors:

" Paper back books, bookmarks, apples.

LOCKER DÉCOR PARTY
A perfect party for junior high age kids, especially girls.

Invitations:

" Make a card shaped like a small locker that opens to reveal the party information.
" Copy a simple map of the interior of the school. Attach party information to the map. It would even personalize it more it you put a star sticker on the locker site of each guest.

Décor:

" No special décor is needed, especially if this party is held at the school actually decorating lockers.

Food:

" Pizza, cupcakes, snack mixes, etc. anything teens love to eat and snack on.

Games and Activities:

" Have supplies to make locker decor available including: wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, aluminum foil, fabric, corkboard, magazines, stickers, ribbons, posters, photos, etc. Include holiday items that can be made and placed in lockers.
" Have precut vinyl or let kids choose their own to adhere to lockers. This will easily peel off and many fun shapes or sayings can be adhered.
" Go to the school to actually decorate the lockers (make sure to check school policies on locker decorating).
" Make locker magnets using clear pebbles, magnet sheets (recycle business magnets or old magnet calendars by covering them), bottle caps, etc.
" Decorate locker mirrors, pencil holders or photo frames.
" Make calendars for lockers placing all school info. and dates on each one.

Favors:

" Locker accessories such as mirrors, air fresheners, white boards, dry erase markers, designer magnets, gum, school supplies, hair accessories, lip gloss, etc.

SCHOOL SPIRIT PARTY
A great party theme for the high school age crowd. This could also be adapted for younger kids using their school colors and mascots.

Invitations:

" A simple card made using school colors with the school mascot on it would make a great invite.
" A photo of your school on the front of a card with party info.
" A pom pom with the party invitation attached.
" Use a scanned yearbook photo of your guests and make the invitation look like a school activity card. Print invite information and laminate.
" Give a small football or other sport item with the invitation written on it.

Décor:

" School colors! Use school colors for all décor including: crepe paper, table coverings, balloons, paper serving items, etc.
" Paint the sidewalk or driveway with school colors and school spirit sayings such as "Go VHS!" or "VHS Rocks!"
" Make big paper posters using tempra paint with school spirit sayings as you would see in the halls of a high school and hang around your party area.
" Have the school song playing as guests arrive.
" Decorate with props from school including uniforms, sport schedules posters, pom poms, sport equipment, etc.

Food:

" Serve cupcakes with picks of your school logo or mascot. Print them out and then attach to toothpicks.
" Dye food the colors of your school - bread, cookies, dips, etc. can be easily colored with food coloring if appropriate.
" Use food coloring markers to write on cookies.
" Make mascot or megaphone shaped cookies.
" Have a big ice cream bar with school colored toppings (m&m's or other candies)
" Serve drinks the school colors or make bottle wraps for soda or water with the school logo on them.
" Set up a candy table with jars/containers of candy the color of your school colors. Games and Activities:
" Tie-dye t-shirts with school colors or decorate with permanent markers. Wear these to school sporting and other events.
" Make posters or simple yard signs and deliver them to the home of teachers or administrators. Create sayings such as: "You Rock Mr. Smith!"
" Check with your school to see if there is a service project you could do for the school.
" Make up a fun cheer the group attending your party could do at a game. Have a contest who can make up the best cheer.
" Hang up kindergarten photos of guests and see who can identify the most correctly.
" Have a school clothes relay. Have a bunch a funky and crazy clothes (it would be great to have them all in school colors) in two piles. Separate into teams. Blindfold one person from each team and have them run to the pile (guide them) and have them put on a "first day of school outfit" over their regular clothing. The crazier the assortment clothing the better and make rules so than a certain number of pieces must be put on. Take a photo of each person. They must then take off the blindfold and get out of the clothes and run down and blindfold the next person on the team. The first team done wins.
" Ask trivia questions about the school or administrators. Give a prize to who gets the most correct.
" Hire a DJ or have one of the teens be in charge of music.

Favors:

" School t-shirts, lanyards, folders, key chains, posters, pennants, mugs, etc.

SCHOOL SUPPLY SWAP PARTY
A party that would be appropriate for any age group.

Invitations:

" An invitation attached to a photo or an actual school supply item.
" Make an invitation look like a report card.
" Print invite on lined notebook filler paper.
" Give an invitation to look like a homework page and state: "Your 1st homework assignment of the year is to come to my party!"
" Ask kids to bring a backpack when doing a school supply exchange.

Décor:

" Hang ads from the newspaper for school supplies around the room. These could also make fun placemats.
" Decorate with large world maps and globes.
" Make big cutouts of pencils, scissors, notebooks, etc. to hang around the room.

Food:
" A cute snack shaped like a pencil: http://jas.familyfun.go.com/recipefinder/display?id=52202
" Use new pencil boxes as serving bowls and new plastic rulers as salad tongs.

Games and Activities:

" Assign everyone attending the party, a school supply item to bring and how many. Everyone brings their items and swaps with everyone else. This would work like a cookie exchange.
" Ask everyone to bring extra supplies that could be donated to a shelter, hospital or charity.
" Have a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood for school supplies. These could be donated to a local shelter, hospital or charity.
" Place a bunch of basic school supplies on a tray and let everyone look at them. Take the tray away and have everyone write the list of items they remember from the tray - give a prize for who gets the most correct. Another way to play this would be to remove one item and see who can first guess what is missing.
" Fill a piñata with small school supplies and candy. Kids will love this!
" Play "where in the world" - give clues about places around the world and see who can find that place on a map first.
" Have a pencil treasure hunt. Place pencils all around a yard and let kids hunt for the pencils.
" Let kids make their own creative erasers using eraser clay available at most craft stores.
" A great craft for younger kids would be to let them decorate pencil boxes.

Favors:

" Any school supply item.

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