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Back to School Party Ideas on a Budget

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Today I’m sharing a bit of personal nostalgia with you. I did this Back to School Party when Sam was just starting school. He was a little nervous. I was a lot nervous—although I tried not to show it. Now that he has had successful school experiences, this back-to-school stuff is easy for both of us and it’s fun to look back and remember our mutual trepidation.

back to school party ideas on a a budget


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My whole idea with this party was I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. It’s not necessary. This kind of party is about the experience and getting kids ready for school. I scoured the dollar store for supplies with a $50 budget and the kids had a great time (so did I!).

http://spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com/blog/boyish-charm/back-to-school-routine-ideas

As you can see, I turned to the grocery store for centerpieces and bought two bags of green apples. They worked out wonderfully!

Back to school party table apple plates craft

Even though I used paper plates, cups and napkins as well as plastic forks, I wanted to take them up a notch. I first did that by keeping them in the same color palette. But I also did it by customizing them. I turned the paper plates into apples.

Back to school party drink cups

For the cups, I blew up large letters for each child’s initial, cut them out and glued them to the glass. It also helped everyone keep track of their glasses!

Instead of placemats, I used cork tiles which were about 50 cents each. They are perfect to keep in place for craft time as well.

Here’s a little secret: that cute brown and white polka dot table cloth is actually wrapping paper. I was getting sick of stains on nice fabric! I use it all the time instead of table cloths now. Waaay cheaper. There are tons of cute patterns and when you’re done you just roll it up and recycle it.

Back to school Party paper ruler runner

The table runner is also made of paper. You can find out how I made that big ruler here.

Back to school party arts and crafts

For the party itself, I focused the activities on things the kids would be doing at school. They had art class. The easels were from the dollar store (naturally) and came with the canvas. I ended up letting them run wild with crayons rather than paint because of the clean-up. I’m a wimp, I know this.

Back to school party activities

They practiced their math skills with a fun activity that involved counting green apples (yes, the ones used in my décor—this was a budget party!). I then cut some of the apples open so the kids could learn about the different parts of an apple during science class.

Back to school party cupcake wrappers

For recess I served vanilla cupcakes. They were store bought (shhh). You can get the cute school-themed cupcake wrappers for free here.

As far as the menu, don’t get fancy. Turn to your child’s lunch box. I served sandwiches, apples and juice boxes.

I still think ramping up excitement for the new school season is a great way to begin the year and these timeless ideas will work for almost every grade level.  

Planning a back-to-school party?  Check out these party sources put together by the teacher’s aides at Spaceships and Laser Beams:

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Be sure to check out more back-to-school ideas here:

Plus, don’t miss A Colorful Back-to-School Party

Colorful Back to school party ideas

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Stephanie Keeping

Stephanie is in love with a boy named Sam. He has taught her that it's okay to jump first and look later, to wear a dirty shirt to the park and to decide that today is a good day to take a nap in your rubber boots. She hangs out here blogging at Spaceships and Laser Beams and at our printable party shop on Etsy.