How to Host a Back to School Party

The Keller kids have about 10 more days of summer before heading back to school this fall.   We’re soaking up the last week and squeezing in as much fun as we can before the leaves start falling off the trees.


To celebrate the exciting new school year ahead, we recently invited friends over to our farmhouse for a Back to School party with food, drinks, crafts and fun!  It was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and get the kids excited to go back to school.


There’s still time to plan your own Back to School party for friends and family.  Start by sending digital invites to guests from Minted.  Their invites are adorable and super simple to use.  The best part…they’re free!


School supplies make the perfect party favors and also double as decor.   In preparation for our party, I ransacked every school supply section I could find at Target.  I can’t tell you how many times I was asked “Are you a teacher?” while checking out.


I gathered all the essentials and had a few things personalized for each little guest as a favor.


To set the stage for the party, gather school related items like globes, chalkboards, maps, letters and flashcards.  You may already have these items around the house!


Have a child write on a chalkboard (their handwriting is the best!).  I had my 12 year old niece write “I will not talk in class.” over and over.  It made the cutest dessert table backdrop!


If you have local farmers markets, hit them up for flowers.  I’m pretty sure I know every market location, day and time in our county!  There’s nothing better than fresh farm flowers and you can’t beat the price.  Instead of vases, I used interesting items like vintage thermos’, canning jars and old milk bottles to display the flowers.


Since the party is for the kids, plan the party around the kids!  Think about their size, their energy and their interests!  The more you can plan for ahead of time, the better the party will go.  I have an incredibly busy 8 year old boy with an extremely short attention span.  It’s great to offer many activities and options for guests so that parents can relax and feel comfortable letting kids play.  Don’t set things out you don’t want kids to touch, sit on, play with, etc.  Make it about the kids!


We set the party in our backyard and let the kids run!  I found little picnic tables on craigslist for our smaller guests and had plenty of larger tables and chairs for bigger kids (and adults).  I ordered little red pillows for each child with their name on them (found at Highway 3) and displayed them in vintage apple crates.  Use your favors as additional decor if possible!


Instead of a typical candy bar or goodie bag, turn your party favors into an interactive area!  I used a vintage cubby shelf to house all of the school supply favors and an old locker to hold the kids personalized backpacks.  The personalized notebooks were placed in a vintage wire rack and the pencil pouches on an old school desk.  The school supply station was one of my favorite details of our Back to School party!


Along with the essentials like pencils, crayons and erasers, I packed apple stamped linen bags with Tree Top applesauce pouches and fruit snacks and filled cubbies with lots of apples!  The applesauce pouches are a great option to offer as a healthy snack for the ride home because they’re mess free,  require no spoon, and are made with 100% U.S.-grown fruit!





Serve little lunches for the kids to eat as they arrive.  I packed berry baskets lined with red gingham napkins and filled them with family’s favorite snacks: Tree Top applesauce pouches, string cheese, cinnamon alphabet cookies and a pb & j sandwich wrapped in a glassine bag, tied in bakers twine.  Tree Top Apple Sauce Pouches are a great way to get some pure fruit into your kids’ day – with no added sugars and no artificial flavoring.


Our party happened to be on one of the hottest days, so I made sure to have plenty of drinks nearby.  I filled a vintage cart with water dispensers, mason jars with plaid straws and lots of canned Tree Top apple juice.  Not only is it 100% juice with no sugar added, the can is extra special to drink from when you are a little kid!



In addition to the apple juice cans and water dispensers, we served bottles of Tree Top apple juice topped with miniature apple sugar cookies.  They were one of my favorite party details!  To replicate, before baking the cookies, use a paper straw to make a hole in your cookie dough, so they bake with a hole.  Decorate the cookie around the hole.  Let the cookie icing crust for about 8 hours and then place on top of a bottle of apple juice and pop a striped straw through!  The kids (and adults) loved them!



For the adults, it’s nice to serve finger foods.  With all the commotion of children and their activities (and energy), I like to offer bite size foods parents can nibble on as their kids play.  I know from experience, the second you make yourself a plate of food, your child will instantly need you!


We served a gigantic table of charcuterie platters, trays and pedestals overflowing with fresh fruits, veggies, cheeses, meats, nuts and crackers.


Parents will appreciate the opportunity to nibble throughout the party!



Styling a charcuterie is easy, they’re pretty hard to mess up.  Pick up fresh fruits (bonus for those that are in season like figs, pears and plums!), a variety of spreads and cheeses and lots of crackers!



Typically charcuteries are served on wood boards, but I used all kinds of random trays and pans from vintage enamelware to old baking pans.  I loved how it created a very interesting and unique table!



It’s nice to have a few different drink options for the adults as well.  We had a bar cart that offered a variety of mix and match drinks from water, sparkling lemonade, prosecco, Tree Top Fresh Pressed Honey Crisp Apple Juice, and fresh apple puree.  Adults could mix their own blend!


It’s fun to style a photo op area for guests to pose in front of to capture a memory of the party.


As guests arrived we snapped a photo of them near an apple backdrop.  I’d found a wood cubby shelf at a flea market recently and imagined it filled with fruit.  It turned out so cute!  The apples even doubled as a prop!



I always strive to create a laid back atmosphere when hosting.  I don’t want parents to feel like they can’t let their kids run free or not know when it’s ok to do something and when it’s not.  When guests arrive to a party, give them the run down of what they can expect.  As I greeted our guests and thanked them for coming, I let them know where the food was for the kids, the adults, what crafts were where and to please make themselves at home!


A few of our little guests went straight for the food! Smart kids.


My kids went straight for the crafts.  We had a few different “creation stations” for the kids filled with stickers, markers, papers, crayons, stamps etc.


This is a simple way to entertain almost any age.  Fill containers with coloring essentials, stickers and something to draw on.  Who doesn’t love fresh crayons?


The girls decorated lunch bags with fabric markers and stamps.  Their little handwriting and drawings were adorable.



My son Hudson loved filling out this Back to School Interview.  These make cute keepsakes for parents!  Get your own free download here.



When you visit the Keller Farmhouse,  you have to say hello to our goats.  I think the goats were a highlight of the party for the majority of the guests and I’m certain it was the best day of our goats’ lives.


My sister has a darling sign company called Eylander Sign Co.  She came with all the materials and supplies for the kids to make a wood pencil for their teachers on the first day of school.


They turned out SO cute!


These are easy to make using wood stakes, paint and paint brushes.  You can paint on the teacher’s name or use a black sharpie.  Either way, they make a great first day of school teacher treat!



The dessert table is always the centerpiece of any party.  I was really excited to put this dessert table together and as usual, had more baking ideas than time. I pulled an all nighter and made almost everything I was hoping to include!


I found a vintage black metal desk on Craigslist and sent my husband to pick it up.  It made a perfect table for the desserts! Look around your home for desks or other tables that would make a good dessert table!


The table was filled with all kinds of school themed treats.  There were notebook paper rice krispy treats (made by dipping the rice krispy treat into candy melts and then using a food marker to draw on the lines) and vanilla wafer pencil cookies (made by trimming cookie edges, dipping in candy melts and adding a chocolate chip to the tip for the “lead”).


A stacked book cake sat high on an old wood crate.


Simple vanilla cupcakes were topped with fondant chalkboards.


A personal favorite were the caramel apples! I used pencils instead of sticks and added flags to each pencil using ruler themed washi tape.



No party is complete without Jenny Cookies!  I kept the shapes and decorating fairly simple by just using  A, B and C cookie cutters, apples, circles and a schoolhouse.


For the peanut butter lovers, I made my peanut butter cracker cookies and turned them into apples by adding a little pretzel stem and chocolate leaf.  (Chocolate leaf made with green candy melts, drawn on wax paper, dried, and added to the “apple”).


Mini apple pies were placed in an old metal measuring tray, with a wooden fork attached with red twine.


After a few hours, the kids had eaten, crafted, played with the goats, and had enough sugar to send them on a few hot laps around our property.  They had spied their names on backpacks and were ready to pack up their school supplies.  (Backpacks found at Gentry California)



Each child was also given a little notebook personalized with their name.  When I was ordering them, I thought they were so cute I ended up ordering one for each of my kid’s teachers this year!



Placed on a vintage desk were personalized pencil bags (found from Arla Creations), the perfect size for holding pencils and markers.


We filled each backpack with our favorite personalized name labels from Minted.  They are SO great for labeling school supplies, school uniforms, lunch boxes, water bottles, etc.


Also inside the backpacks were little treats for the parents, gift cards for Chatbooks.  If you aren’t familiar with Chatbooks, you need to be!!  Chatbooks is an app that turns your Instagram, Facebook and phone photos into beautiful photo books.  It’s the biggest lifesaver (goodbye mommy guilt) and extremely simple to use. 


The kids were adorable packing up their supplies.  Some were serious about what they chose and some just wanted to play!


The school supply station was a great end of party activity and was an easy transition to the car for parents, armed with plenty of Tree Top pouches and fruit snacks for the road.

The party was a blast, definitely made it to the top of my “favorite parties” list.  I love when guests are relaxed, conversation is easy, the kids have a great time and the weather cooperates!  It doesn’t get any better!


Have you ever hosted a Back to School party?  If so, do you have an additional tip to add?  Leave me a comment below!

A big thanks to Tree Top for being a part of this incredibly special party.  Tree Top is based in our backyard of Selah, WA, and have been delivering quality fruit products for more than 50 years. Plus, they benefit fruit growers in the Pacific Northwest as a grower-owned co-op.

Photos by Kelly Clare Photography


11 thoughts on “How to Host a Back to School Party

  1. What an amazing party, Jenny!!! It looks like the kids had a great time. Your attention to details and eye for unique ways to display decor at simply the best! Thanks for including our personalized backpacks!! Xo, Vibeka {Gentry California}

  2. This party looks like it was amazing! Making those pencil stakes for back to school gifts! Thanks for sharing!!! (Love the cookie toppers, too!)

    Well done!

  3. Such an amazing party! Every detail was cuter than the next. I absolutely loved the school supply favor station…such a genius idea!!! You are such an inspiration!! Thank you so much for sharing!

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