Our kids started school on Monday! Crazy. Summer seems so fleeting now as we are entering Back to School season! Each year I try to have a little special dinner for my family to celebrate a brand new school year. I love trying to celebrate milestones together. This year I was inspired by Katie at The Vintage Mother with her beautiful Back to School dinner, and it kind of gave me the kick I needed to make our dinner pretty yet meaningful.

Except for the fresh flowers and a few inexpensive school supplies (and the food for dinner of course), I really didn’t spend much money at all on this “party.” I used what I had on hand and it came together pretty quickly. Let’s chat about some of the details.

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I wanted to have a little theme to focus on this year, and to talk about with the kids. I knew right from the start I wanted our theme as “Be Brave!” This year our school boundaries changed so our whole neighborhood is going to a new school. So we’ve been feeling a bit anxious yet optimistic with change and not quite knowing what to expect. I felt that a Back to School dinner celebration with a few simple but special details would help calm our kids’ nerves. I wanted them to start the year off feeling happy and loved. ๐Ÿ™‚ I made them play downstairs until I had it all set up so it would be a surprise. They loved it!

braver stronger smarter framed print

We talked aboutย being brave and having courage even though everything about this school year is new–new teachers, new friends, etc. We talked about ways they’ve been brave in the past, and things that can help them when they are feeling nervous or afraid. ย At each place setting I made each child a framed print of a quote I love–“Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” I’ve always loved this quote and hope that they will remember these things, especially as we are apart from one another during the day.

FYI,ย I downloaded this print from a website and now it’s giving everyone spyware warnings so unfortunately I can’t link to it. ๐Ÿ™ My apologies!!

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I used a giant piece of fabric for the tablecloth, and a colorful fat quarter fabric from Riley Blake under the flowers. I used empty lemonade bottles for the vases, and added little paper doilies wrapped in baker’s twine. I love these flowers! They remind me of yellow fireworks! ๐Ÿ™‚ Picked those up at Costco! They are so fun.

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At each place setting I had a pack of colorful markers, a notepad, and a little striped bag of candies. I have a thing for school supplies, lol!

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For the Back to School banner I grabbed a pack of red and white polka dot cards that I found in the dollar section of JoAnn’s! There were 6 cards and 6 envelopes, so it was PERFECT! Took a black marker and wrote the letters on the cards and envelopes and hung them on baker’s twine strung in front of the window. EASIEST.

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As for the menu, we ate some of their favorite foods—including smoked pork tenderloin with our favorite balsamic glaze (DELISH!), orange jello, broccoli, rolls, and brownies for dessert.

We also made Italian cream sodas!! {tutorial and free download here!}

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My favorites are strawberry cream, orange creamsicle and raspberry peach! The kids were happy! ๐Ÿ™‚


Our Back to School celebration dinner was a success–I’m really trying to be more deliberate and mindful as a mother, and I know that this simple yet special dinner made a difference in their attitudes about this brand new school year! Hopefully some of these ideas will help you with your family!


  1. Brooke, you are such a good mom!

  2. Brooke – it turned out so cute! I bet they loved it :). I did a really simple one, too, but my kids loved it. All it took for us was little umbrellas in their drinks and new place mats from Walmart and they felt special ;).

    My mouth is WATERING for the Italian soda tutorial!

  3. I never thought to do a Back to School dinner! That’s a great idea!

  4. where is the download for the print?

    • I got the quote from a website and now it’s giving everyone spyware warnings so unfortunately I can’t link to it. ๐Ÿ™ My apologies!!

  5. Where did you get the printable quote from?

    • I got the quote from a website and now it’s giving everyone spyware warnings so unfortunately I can’t link to it. ๐Ÿ™ My apologies!!

  6. Monica Peterson Says: August 21, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Nice job, Brooke! He’s looking more and more like his dad; I did a double-take to make sure it wasn’t! Thanks for the inspiration and example.

  7. Aw I love this! Thank you so much for linking to The Vintage Mother! So glad to hear we share the same love for celebrating the start of a new school year. Love your blog and hope to connect in the future. xo

  8. […] Italian cream sodas have been deliciously popular over the past little while–and not only are they yummy to drink, they are really easy to make! I made them quite a bit this summer–at girls camp for our church, at our family trip to Lake Powell, and most recently we made them for our Back to School dinner. […]

  9. Jennifer Farrell Says: August 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Do you have the Italian soda tutorial?

  10. […] Back to School Dinner […]

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