Does your family do a special back to school dinner before school starts each year? Here are some back to school dinner ideas for themes, what to do, what to cook, and more.
Need some back to school dinner ideas this year?
Every year we do a special back to school dinner, usually the night before school starts. It’s a fun way to celebrate our last day of summer and also talk about goals, set expectations for the year, talk about our theme for the year, and more. Today I wanted to share some back to school dinner ideas because I asked on Instagram if any of you do these kinds of special dinners, and many of you said you did not but loved the idea.
Even though this year’s back to school looks different with homeschool, distant learning, and other options, I still love the idea of having a special back to school dinner to kick off the school year and still make it feel special.
So I want to share what we do, some ideas for doing yours, and also some fun theme ideas you suggested.
Why should you do a back to school dinner?
I love any reason to celebrate, and this is a really simple and fun one that makes going back to school feel less scary and hard and big, and more of an exciting milestone.
My parents didn’t do anything like this when I was a kid, and I never knew the difference. So don’t feel any pressure to do one. But remember, this kind of dinner doesn’t have to be fancy or time intensive — you can make it as simple or extravagant as you’d like.
What do you eat at back to school dinner?
If you’re doing a back to school theme for the evening, you can incorporate your theme into the meal itself. You could go all out and do all sorts of cool dishes.
But I usually don’t.
I like to make one of the boys’ favorite meals instead. We do a big charcuterie tray with meats and cheese and dried fruit, or we do chicken roll ups, or we BBQ and do burgers and hot dogs. We’ve also just done a regular old dinner and then added decorations to make it feel special.
There are no rules — do whatever is right for you and your family!
Here are a few fun ideas for back to school dinner meals or desserts:
- Take your kids out for sushi!
- Go out to a special restaurant to make it feel out of the ordinary
- Do an indoor picnic and serve finger foods
- Kids choice of dinner
- Ice cream bar with fun toppings (and a regular dinner)
- Make your own individual pizzas
- Have a BBQ with ribs, steaks, or burgers and hot dogs
- Make a nacho bar with chips and cheese and toppings
- Throw a fiesta with Mexican food and decorations
- Have breakfast for dinner
- Make milkshakes
What kind of things do you do at back to school dinner?
Obviously we eat dinner. But we also do a few other activities to introduce the theme of the school year.
These are some other things we do during the evening:
- Talk about our theme for the year. We usually choose a scripture or a quote and base our theme around that. I’ll talk more below about that.
- Introduce our new Family Economy charts for the year (they’re different during the summer)
- Talk about expectations for the year (being a good friend, being respectful to teachers and others, completing assignments, helping around the house even with school work, etc)
- Have Philip give father’s blessings to each of the boys. These are special religious blessings given by a father to his children to offer comfort, strength, and guidance. They can be given at any time, but the beginning of the school year is a special time to do them.
Other fun ideas for the evening:
- measure each child’s height for the beginning of the year and compare at the end of the year
- have each child fill out a questionnaire
- Have parents write notes to their children and children to each other
- Parents can share memories of when they were that grade in school
- choose a new game to play as a family for the last night of summer
Theme ideas for back to school dinners
A theme for your evening is 100% not necessary. And a theme for your school year is also not necessary. But I like to do it because it helps me know what I want to talk about with the boys, it helps me decide on (minimal) decorations, and it helps our family find a focus for the upcoming months.
We typically choose a scripture or a short quote for our theme.
- “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Dumbledore
- “Kindness begins with me”
- What matters most is in the inside (onion disguised to look like a caramel apple)
- “Decisions determine destiny.” – Thomas S. Monson
- “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” Alma 37:6
- Beatitudes – Gordon B. Hinckley (bee theme, have your children talk about what they want to “bee” this school year)
- “Color the world with happiness” – rainbow theme
- Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.
- “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
- School theme with pencils and ruler and apple decorations
- “Be Prepared”
- Be a builder (talk about building your standards on a strong foundation — could be a construction truck theme!)
These are just a few simple ideas to get the creativity flowing. You could literally take any scripture, any quote, or any idea and run with it!
Dining Room details:
- Live Edge Dining Table
- Studded Chairs
- Red plates
- ruler table runner made by me – just brown paper and a sharpie!