Julie is Vanessa’s “in real life” friend and will now be a regular Contributor here.
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.
Add in fresh flowers or apples from our tree.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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