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A Back to School Party

Blame it on the Dollar Spot at Target. Or the fact that you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the Sticker Obsession/Chalk Attraction/Chunky Pink Eraser Love out of the teacher (which is why I still write in D’Nealian, by the way). Whatever the case, our back-to-school enthusiasm met up with the back-to-school dollar treasure aisle and BOOM! A little celebration was born. See also: excuse to make cookies, we missed our friends, we had some apples to use up, kid parties make people smile.

The plan was low key party, treats and a big kid swim fest where moms catch up in between yelling “Careful!” and “Don’t run!” and “Dry off before you come in!” But it started pouring right when everyone arrived which brought us to Plan B-the trump card for everything in life: COZY FALL FEST. Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats. This advice works for every situation imaginable. Try it.

Witching hour madness? Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats.
Want to make out with your spouse like it’s your first date? Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats.
Company coming over in half an hour and you’re not ready? Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats.
Feel like everything’s falling apart and you don’t know where to begin to fix it? Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats.

See? Foolproof.

Quick note: I’ve been advised over the years by many wise homemakers/moms/family members that the best way to quickly clean up when you’re running behind is to grab a laundry basket and run through your house putting anything you don’t know what to do with in the basket. The idea–although it doesn’t always work out this way–is that you entirely clean out the basket later. Or leave it in a closet for two weeks, but who’s counting? Anyhoo, in a quick clean-up of my catch-all kitchen counter before the party, I did this impressive arm sweep across the entire length–like the counter was a windshield and my arm was a giant wiper. This collection of stuff avalanched into the basket, and I had to laugh when I looked down to watch The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up land with a thunk. I see your KonMari Method, and I raise you a Hampton ThrowShitInALaundryBasket Game Changer. Let’s just say the book may have inspired some new routines around here, but we still have work to do.

A few pictures from our Back to School celebration…

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For the Elmer’s container for the yogurt, I found a square glass canister at Target and cut and glued some orange construction paper to make the famous orange lid. I enlarged an Elmer’s School Glue label and edited it with a little Comic Sans font. You didn’t ask for my feelings on Comic Sans, but I will tell you anyway: belongs in a classroom or the Sunday funnies, and that’s it. I recall a college professor admonishing a room of soon-to-be professionals: “And don’t you DARE use Comic Sans on your resume.”

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Brushed up on my 7’s and 8’s Times Tables because I was a little rusty.

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We did a wafer/mini marshmallow version of the ever popular Pinterest cheesestick/Bugle pencil.

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The kids decorated their own cookies but I did a few samples for them. I’ve loved my buttercream frosting recipe but tried a new decorating frosting recipe that hardens/sticks/paints on much easier, and loved it. It has a little almond extract in it and tastes delicious.

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The kids loved the doughnut competition–a fun game for any party. String doughnuts and hang them high enough for a challenge (right above the nose) above two kids. They can’t use their hands and have to compete to see who can eat the doughnut off the string first.

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Turns out the sun did come out–as it always does–and the rest of the afternoon continued with summer-loving kids making waves before they take their wave-making game to the classroom.

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And now we swim.
And tonight?
Dim the lights, burn candles, play the jazz greats.


Leave a Comment
  1. Love this. My kids and I head back to school tomorrow. I’ve been off from teaching for the past ten years having (three) babies – the youngest is starting Kindergarten tomorrow. #holdme

    Comic Sans – surely you’ve seen this, from our friends at McSweeney’s …http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/im-comic-sans-asshole .

  2. Adorable!!!! Very old school!! I went back to teaching after being home with my littles for many years. I was so bummed to find no chalk, no chalkboards, no plan books. Everything is online and smart boards now! I was like a fish out of water for a few weeks. For me it seems easier to write something on a chalkboard that download crap onto a computer and then project it ☺️ I mentioned that I didn’t like the online plan book and The secretary who was still there from when I taught before, gave my shoulder a squeeze and whispered ” I’ll find you a plan book” and the next morning it was in my mailbox. Felt good to have that piece of normalcy.

  3. This makes my former-teacher-heart sing. :) Looks like a great way to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year!

    Also? I’m definitely going to be making a Jazz greats list on Spotify to channel your fail safe trump card. I could totally get down with some of that.

  4. I do the laundry basket quick clean-up, too! Except I use those reusable plastic grocery bags instead of a laundry basket. This technique works great! But I must admit…I have about 3 or 4 of those bags of misc. stuff in my garage right now just waiting to be sorted through! I forget about them, and no one seems to miss all the clutter stuff that was lying around. I guess we will get to them one day or another.

    Looks like a fun back to school party! How do you manage to put all this together? Gosh, I just….can’t. I can’t pull it off. I’d need more time, more energy….and less kids. Okay, I love having ten kids. I really, really do. But I’m now so busy running them all around. Driving seriously takes up all my day. I could throw a party like that…but I wouldn’t be able to attend it. LOL. I’d have to call from the car in-between sports drop-off’s and ask, “Hey, how’s my party going?”

  5. I have a standard list of my own but would love to know which jazz greats are on your list!

  6. Isabel Guerra says:

    I just want to say that I really enjoy your site, thank you! :)

  7. That looks like so much fun! The Target Dollar Spot always lures me in too, haha!

  8. I absolutely love this. Kids getting together to play “one last time” before gearing up for back to school. Such a great idea. As always your creativity and photography is on point. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Kelle … LOVE this, (also a former teacher here), I would LOVE your frosting recipe. I have been looking for a good one that is that consistency.
    I am a big fan of your – I come here for a smile!

  10. Heather Kulaga says:

    This is so fun — we don’t start until September 8, but I feel a back to school bonfire coming on. It’s dawning on me that I only have two more years of back-to-school anything!!!

  11. I wish I lived by you! I would love to be your friend…you are so fun loving! Oh by the way…I’m old enough to be your mom but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t be friends:)

  12. The windshield wipe into a basket (or bag) works when your youngest leaves for college and didn’t clean his room as requested. So far the top of the dresser and desk have been “packed” and I can now walk past his room without wanting to just shut the door!

  13. You will know you have mastered the quick clean up when you learn the throwshitnabaskethalffullolaundry method. It works well and the laundry provides padding for any breakables. When hubs asks why he only has 2 pair of underwear for a couple weeks just show him the basket. When he puts up all the stuff he will,as if by magic, find his missing undies!

  14. Geri Watson says:

    I always hosted a back to school party, but it was for all my “mom” friends after the kids were dropped off on the first day of school. We called it our “freedom party.” So many happy memories from all those years…

  15. Wait.
    Did all the back to school papers that need seven million phone numbers and signatures by yesterday get swiped into the laundry basket????

  16. Ahh…a back to school party. Kelle – you never cease to amaze me. Now for the real test of dedication……are you having an end-of-the-first-week party tonight? If anyone would have one, it would be you!

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