15 Memorable Ways to Celebrate the First Day of School

This school year is wacky, right? Whether you are looking at back-to-school in-person, online, hybrid, or homeschool, the fresh start of a new school year deserves celebrating! Don’t normally celebrate?  Start a new tradition and try some of these fun ideas with your kids.

It’s the Most Important Meal of the Day

Start the school day off on the right foot with a special breakfast. Smiley face Eggs and Bacon, Pancakes with sprinkles, cinnamon rolls, a build your own waffle bar, or even stopping at your favorite donut shop. Make it a little extra and add a numbered birthday candle for the grade they are entering. Light that baby, and make a wish for a great school year!

If you have a large bus stop or a neighborhood with a lot of kids, start a Back-To-School Breakfast Celebration for the neighborhood kids. Make it a simple pitch-in and invite the other families from the area. The kids get breakfast and a memorable send-off on their first day.

New Year Interview

New School Year Interviews or video diaries are such sweet keepsakes, to freeze the moment in time and list current favorites. I love seeing what the kids say they want to be when they grow up, and how their interests change over time. (While you are at it, print off a blank teacher interview to send to school with your child. This will come in handy to know likes and dislikes for holidays and teacher appreciation week.)

Morning Affirmations

Grab an extra pad of sticky notes on your back-to-school-supply-shopping trip and use them to plaster their bathroom mirror with positive affirmations: “You’ve got this!” “You’re going to do great!” “I’m proud of you!” “You are going to ROCK ___ grade!” Love notes are always a great way to start your morning. If the bathroom is a shared space, stick them to their door. You can add some crepe paper streamers to push it over the top.

After School Bash

My friend Stephanie always has an after-school celebration of a Back to School Bash. They decorate with school supplies and everything is themed, including the cupcakes decorated to look like apples. No matter what the first day brought, her girls look forward to coming home to a party every year.

No Worries Jewelry

With a normal school year, there can be a bit of back-to-school jitters. I love the idea of a back-to-school gift that may help ease their worry a bit. These matching jewelry options are sweet for littles who may be struggling with the change, or DIY and braid your own matching “Never Alone” bracelets with your bigger kids.


Balloons make any occasion special. Every year, for my kids’ birthdays, I spend the night before blowing up bags full of balloons to dump around their room. They love it and look forward to it every year. This tradition works well for back-to-school, too! If the idea of filling their room makes you out of breath just thinking about it, pick up some helium balloons the night before and have them waiting, tied to their chair at the breakfast table.

Back-to-School Fashion Show

You shelled out the dough for those new school clothes—you should put them to work! Host a fashion show the day before they go back to school. The kids will love showing off their stylin’ selections with a living room fashion show, and it will help get them hyped for the next day. Clear an area they can use for a catwalk and let them pick the tunes to set the mood.

Chalk Walk

Head outside early to write “good luck” and “have a great day” messages in sidewalk chalk, leading out to the car or bus stop. They will love reading the words of encouragement as they start their school day.

Lunch time

Pack a special lunch, It doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy. It can be extra special by packing some of their favorite foods and adding a personal note or one of these fun printable jokes.

First Day Photos

First day photos are the most popular back to school tradition, and there are so many varieties. From funny family shots (Bye, Felicia!) to the ones of littles in their over-sized “class of…” t-shirt. (Have you seen the ones where they add their hand print on the back every year? Adorable!)

If you are sticking with the sweet shot from the front steps with the grade level prints, consider switching it up. Let the kids decorate their own signs this year! It allows them to show their personality and will be a fun memory to remember later.

Back To School Splash Down

Still full of energy when they get home? Burn off some of that extra energy with a Back-to-School Splash Down! Hit up the pool or splash pad–if it is an option in your area–or grab a sprinkler, water balloons, or squirt guns. Go all out! And don’t be afraid to get wet. It’s even more memorable when mom and dad get in on the action.

After School Snack

Everyone deserves a special treat when making through their first day! Head out for ice cream or DIY your very own sundae bar with all the toppings! Bake a favorite treat, or find a new recipe to make a special Back to School Snack together.

Craft it Up

Making a special gift for their new teacher can help get them excited for the first day, especially if they can’t wait to gift it. This personalized crayon wreath is adorable, and something you can work on together. Plus, you can take advantage of school supplies being super cheap right now.

After School Surprise

Greet them when they get off the bus with a blast of silly string, bubble gun, or confetti launcher. Make sure you can dish it AND take it, though, and get each child their own can of silly string!

Cuddle Time

First day got everyone tuckered out? Sometimes the best way to celebrate is by ordering delivery, and snuggling on the couch with your little’s favorite book or movie. This might be just the wind-down you all need. And remember, they won’t be this little forever!

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