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Planning Guides

How to Plan a Back to School Bash

When summer’s over and school is coming around again, kids might want to drag their feet on their return to learning. They need something to get them excited to come back to school. That’s where you come in!

A back to school bash is a great way to get kids pumped for the upcoming school year. This guide will walk you through each step of throwing an amazing party that will have kids talking for months. They may not even complain too much about the first homework assignment of the year.

Part 1: Planning

Form a party-planning committee

Planning an event for a whole school is in no way a one-person task. Get together the faculty and staff and decide who’s going to be on the small team spearheading this project. Make sure you have enough members that you won’t be overwhelmed by tasks.

Delegate! Give each person on the committee one or two areas to focus on. This can include party supplies, entertainment, food and drink, activities, venue prep, and anything else you want your party to include. By splitting up the work, no one will become overwhelmed, but make sure the committee has a steady flow of communication so all your pieces come together as a whole.

Pick a type of event

What do you want your event to do for you? Is it a fundraising event for further school projects? Do you want parents to meet and greet each other and teachers? Is it simply a way to destress and have fun a week or two into the school year?

No matter what you end up choosing, keep your goal in mind when you decide how to run your event. The purpose will inform your decisions about how to divide your budget up and what to spend it on. If the event will have a theme, decide on that now.

Budget

School budgets can be very limited, so you may need to get creative in how you spend yours. Here are some main contenders for budget money:

  • Food and drink: Students, parents, and staff alike will all need something to eat and drink during the event. Try to keep in mind how many people you’re feeding and what can stretch the furthest.
  • Entertainment and activities: Kids will need something to do and parents won’t say no to a little fun either. You can defray some of these costs by allowing kids free reign of the playground to entertain themselves.
  • Basic rentals: The costs of chairs, tables, and tents will start to add up when you have this many people to seat and cover. Estimate the number of guests so you can budget out event rentals. Don’t forget older and younger siblings!

Set aside a portion of the budget for emergency costs that may pop up throughout the course of planning and running the event. Nothing is worse than running out of funds with a problem to address.

Part 2: Preparation

  1. Invites: You need to make sure that both students and parents know the event is happening, which means you need to get the information out along multiple avenues. School listservs, posters and fliers, and in-class announcements are all great ways to get word of the party out.
  2. Entertainment: Try to find something that can entertain a large volume of people. Whether it’s a quick-fingered balloon artist or face painter or a giant inflatable slide, the entertainment needs to be fit for families, and lots of them. For extra fun, you can even put teachers in a dunk tank; no one will want to miss out!
  3. Music: Music is what really sets the mood at any party. Hire a DJ to MC your event. They’ll keep the mood upbeat and fun, run any events or contests you might have, or make announcements to the crowd. Just keep in mind the volume and be polite to any neighbors!
  4. Food and drink: With so many people in attendance, you’ll need food that can stretch a long way. Try hosting an ice cream social, or providing treats like popcorn or snow cones. Depending on the size of your crowd, you can always fill bowls with pretzels or offer fresh fruit platters as well.
  5. Venue: At the beginning of the school year, it’s likely that the weather is still gorgeous. Let the kids out to enjoy some sunshine and host the event in the schoolyard, or even on one of the sports fields. Just keep the gymnasium as a backup in case of bad weather.
  6. Decorations: While it wouldn’t do to blow the whole budget on decor, a few well-placed decorations can really bring the festive atmosphere. Mark the party space with balloon columns or arches, decorate tables with colorful cutouts, and get some streamers to adorn food tables. Make the school kids see every day into a vibrant party space!

Part 3: Buildup

  1. Event reminders: Kids can be forgetful or may not have remembered all the right details for their parents. Keep up some reminders in the week leading up to the event. Send out emails, make sure posters are hung in well-trafficked areas, and mention the party in the daily announcements.
  2. Check with suppliers: Get in touch with the people supplying food, rentals, and entertainment. Make sure all booking fees are paid and that you’re still on for the day of the event. This extra check-in will make sure that you’re on track to have the event as planned and may head off problems in the future.
  3. Brief the staff: Get your committee together to make sure the rest of the staff knows the plan and what they’ll be doing. If you need any last minute assistance with procuring supplies, decorating the space, or running an activity, this is the time to recruit some help. Make sure the staff knows to have fun as well!

Part 4: On the day

  1. Pickups and deliveries: Know exactly who is in charge of getting each pickup and receiving each delivery and check in to make sure things are going smoothly. Store food properly until the time of the event to prevent any spoilage.
  2. Check the weather: Check in on the weather and decide whether the event needs to be moved inside or, in dire cases, rescheduled altogether. You don’t want attending the event to be dangerous, so while a little rain might move the festivities inside, severe weather may necessitate rescheduling.
  3. Make sure everyone’s on board: Double check with everyone who has a task. Make sure that they’ve done their assignment or know what they’re doing during the party. Ensure that everyone without a specific task is prepared to mingle, put guests at ease, and chat with parents and students.
  4. Transform your party space: Bust out the decorations! It’s likely that you haven’t been able to put up many of them beforehand, so it’s really all hands on deck at this point. Arrange any party rentals and make the space festive for your guests.
  5. Mingle with guests: Make sure you get around to chat with as many people as possible. Parents of students currently in your class, former and current students, even other staff members. This party is a great opportunity to learn a little more about the kids you’re teaching and their families.
  6. Have fun together: Participate in activities! Show the kids that you care and that you want to have fun with them. Listen to stories and tell your own. This is a chance for your kids to remember that while you may be their teacher, you’re also pretty cool in your own right.
  7. Check in with committee members: Keep up those lines of communication during the party. Check in with your fellow party planners to make sure no problems have arisen. You may need to troubleshoot some minor issues, so don’t panic if something comes up. Figure out the best, quietest way to solve each issue as it comes along.

Part 5: Once it’s over

  1. Clean up: Consolidate the trash as much as you can to make things easier for the maintenance staff or hired cleaning crew. Mark off any major or possibly dangerous messes, like broken glass, to be handled as soon as possible. If anything broke during the event, make a note of it so it can be repaired as soon as possible. If any decorations can be reused later, set them aside for storage.
  2. Close the accounts: Make sure all fees and wages are paid and that the final budget accounts for every item purchased, even the last-minute ones. If you have to send receipts or accounting information elsewhere, make sure it’s all sent in one package rather than in pieces. Keep track of the cost, attendance numbers, and waste and keep a record of it for reference in future events.
  3. Committee debrief: Get the committee together one more time to discuss the event. Did everything go as planned? Were the unforeseen issues that arose? Did any new risks pay off or backfire? Keep a list of things that worked and what you can improve for next year. Ask for feedback from other staff members to see if they noticed anything you may have missed.
  4. Social media posts: Post some pictures on your social media that highlight some of the best parts of the event. Send out a thank you to all who attended and possibly give a shout out to the planning committee. You can also include pictures, a short write-up of the event, and a thank you to party planners in a listserv or newsletter.
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