Back to School Party Ideas

back_to_school_party_ideas atthepicketfence.comWe are so excited to announce that we have a new member to the Picket Fence Team!

Julie is Vanessa’s “in real life” friend and will now be a regular Contributor here.

back to school, Martha Stewart

She is a wife and a mom of 3 darling kiddos. She loves photography and making everyday moments into memorable occasions. She is incredibly talented, creative and throws some knock-your-socks-off-fantastic parties! We just know that you are going to love her as much as we do.

So, without further ado, please help us welcome Julie as she shares some of her awesome ideas for
Back to School Celebrations
Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be meeting you all here At the Picket Fence!
In honor of all things back-to-school, Vanessa invited me to share with you a few of our family’s back-to-school celebrations & traditions.
We started our back-to-school party tradition when our oldest was 4 and about to enter Pre-K.

She was uneasy about school & prone to separation anxiety so we thought it would be a way to boost her confidence and make the start of school a little more celebratory.It quickly became a family tradition and has helped offset the bittersweet transition that I feel each year as school begins—a pep rally of sorts for the whole family.

For every back-to-school and end of school party our girls (and pretty soon our boy, once he starts school) select colors to create our theme. This year it’s apple green with shades of pinks & purples.
They also select the menu for the celebrations. Armed with scrapbook paper, scissors, circle punches, tape & ribbons, I create simple party details that appear in almost every “school” celebration: bunting/banners, celebration pins, invitations & signs.

back to school, pennant, back to school party

Add in fresh flowers or apples from our tree.

back to school, back to school party

Free printables from internet searches (so grateful to all the talented bloggers & artists for their free downloads!) and our requisite “apple” cupcakes (inspired by Martha Stewart and our party is mostly complete.

This is last year’s “Celebration Pin”.

back to school

And here is this year’s version.

To indulge my creative side, I’ll usually try out some new tutorial or craft that I’ve picked up in my searches. For this year’s party I followed a tutorial from the blog MADE  to make the girls’ matching back-to-school party skirts. I have never sewn before this summer and I discovered in the process of making these that I had been threading & inserting my bobbin completely wrong all summer proving that if I can follow this tutorial with relative success, anyone can!
I attached a flower hair clip to the waistband to fancy them up a bit.

At each back-to-school party our kids receive a small gift to start off their year. Some years the gifts have been more symbolic or meaningful depending on what our kids were dealing with as we approached the start of school.

Past years have included a small child-sized locket with picture of mom & dad for our anxiety-prone girl (she wore it every day for the entire year, opening it when she needed to feel “closer” to us), a few sparkly pencils & erasers, a new devotion book for the school year and last year (for that same sensitive girl) a small, stretchy watch so she would be able to tell at any point during the day how much longer she had until she could see us. This year the girls will be getting the following books that I found on Amazon.

Ten Girls Who Used Their Talents

Our middle child starts Kindergarten this September and she’s been excitedly awaiting another family tradition of a “fancy” dinner-date out with mom a few nights before school starts, commemorating her entry into elementary school.

She gets a special invitation in her mailbox and can choose both of our outfits for the evening.

A new tradition added to this year’s party has been to include a verse for the school year in our party décor. This summer the kids and I worked on memorizing my 92 year old grandmother’s life verses: Psalm 91. When we began talking about a verse for the year I asked the girls if they had any ideas and my oldest

(who still struggles with homesickness at the start of the year) suggested Psalm 91:2.

This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God and I trust him.

I have a feeling that this verse will challenge/encourage me as much, if not more, than my kids as I begin the process of releasing them to school. We’ve written it on our hall chalkboard, added it to our party décor & included it as our theme on our invitations to the grandparents.

To photograph our kids at the beginning and end of each school year I’ve used these free printable signs from Blonde Designs and then have made my own for capturing the last day of school. This past year I stumbled upon the beautiful blog Simple as That and will be using some of her photography tips to capture memorable back-to-school moments. She also has an awesome Back to School Photo Checklist which she offers as a free printable!

Finally here’s a few pictures of how we finish out our year.

This past year the girls chose pink & turquoise as the party colors and I found & framed this beautiful free printable from Laura Winslow Photography

We kept it framed on our kitchen table all summer, reminding us to savor the days. Our peonies held on to their petals for an extra day to add a pop of pink color on our table and I used this tutorial for the streamers.

and this one for the cupcake toppers.

Thanks so much for letting me share a few of our simple celebrations with you. Happy Back-to-School from our house to yours!

And thanks so much for joining us (and Julie) at the Fence today,



  1. says

    How super exciting…and wow, Julie, can you please be my mom? What lucky children! I cannot wait to see more! Welcome to one of my favorite blogs…so glad you are here!

    Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

  2. says

    Welcome to the Picket Fence, Julie!!! Lovely back to school ideas. We homeschool and do more of an all year round thing. But we can’t help but get excited when the stores fill up with all those school supplies at cheaper prices :)
    Have a blessed day!

  3. says

    Welcome Julie to one of my absolute favorite blogs!! Your ideas are precious!! I SO wish I had a little girl so I could use all of your sweet decorative ideas :=) I may tweak them so I can use them with my little boy!

  4. says

    Hi ladies and I want to welcome Julie to At The Picket Fence! Isn’t she so creative? Oh, how I wish I had been more creative when my children were little!
    Be a bunch of sweeties,
    Shelia 😉

  5. says

    Welcome Julie! Like Shelia posted above me…I wish I had thought to be this creative when my son was starting school. I’m planning to copy some of the ideas to send special notes to my grandchildren this school year. Can’t wait to see what you 3 ladies share with us.

    Thanks, Helen

  6. says

    Love this post! Julie is an awesome addition to the crew. lol Can’t wait to see what else she has to share.

    Sorry I haven’t been around much ladies! I love your blog and plan to get back on track with mine once school starts. You’ll be hearing and seeing more of me soon. =)

    ~ Catie

  7. says

    Great post and welcome Julie!! What an inspiration she is, so glad you posted this because I am going to take some of her ideas and apply them to my girl’s going back to school, thank you! XO ~Liz

  8. says


    You are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! You need to be nominated for “mom of the year!” And your photography is off the charts! I am so happy you are over At The Picket Fence!

    Have a blessed and wonderful day!

  9. says

    It’s party time over at Debt Free Mommy Blog and you’re invited!! Please stop on in and link up with Making Space Mondays. We look forward to seeing any post(s) about making your space better. Hope to see you there. -Tabitha


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