Going back to school can be bittersweet. For families with school age children, it represents the unofficial end of summer and the return of structure. On a more personal level, it is the end of lazy beach days, casual outings and schedule-free days. But the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and school bags packed with new notebooks is kind of exciting too. This year, I decided to celebrate back to school with a fun party at home and my friends at Hellmann’s helped me out with it.
You may remember that I am a part of the Hellmann’s Real Foodies, which means I am a brand ambassador of sorts for them. In the interest of full disclosure, they provided me with a gift card to pay for this party. So, thank you Hellmann’s!
In preparing for our Back to School Party, the kids and I hit the craft store and picked up supplies to make a few decorations. We also popped into Pier 1 for some special serving pieces and table decorations. The idea was to bring together school and sand (the candles we used were all beach-scented!). Once we had everything we needed, the kids decorated and got everything ready for the party.
I loved this school-meets-elegance centerpiece. The pencils add a nice touch, without being too much, don’t you think?
Planning a Back to School Party
While planning the party, I really wanted to bring together elements of our summer and elements of school. And the menu? I wanted it to celebrate summer with a mix of turned up classic dishes and simple ones. Our menu included a special coleslaw with Hellmann’s, the Homemade Ranch Dressing (also with Hellmann’s) that my family is crazy for, a special shrimp pasta (more on that soon!) and a great dessert table. We also had some appetizers, a killer multigrain bread and more. It was truly a feast.
Best of all, I was able to create a big full meal in about an hour, which meant I wasn’t stressed out at all. That’s a great thing for a party, right?
Ready to plan your party? The important thing is to keep it low-key and fun. There is no need to make this a huge bash. We kept our party to four heading-back-to-school kids and three adults, and it was a blast. A lot of good can come of keeping it really intimate. So when you are planning your party, ask yourself: What do I want to get out of this?
Creating the Hopes, Dreams, Goals Jar
This was my favorite part of the party. One of the big things we did during the party was to each write down a hope, wish or dream for the school year. These were folded and placed into mason jar that I sealed and hid. At the end of the year, we’ll look back on what we wrote and see how we did. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing what everyone wrote … in 10 months (once the school year is over).
Sample Back to School Party Menu
Hellmann’s is so versatile. It’s killer for making homemade coleslaw and Buttermilk Ranch Dressing (both of which hit the table during our party) but also can yield juicy baked poultry and a tender cake. This sample menu is a great way to serve delicious food easily.
- Tangy Cranberry Almond Coleslaw
- Easy, Juicy Rosemary Romano Roasted Turkey Cutlets
- Sauteed Garlic Shrimp
- Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
- Chocolate Peppermint Cake in a Jar
More ideas from Hellmann’s
Thanks again to Hellmann’s!
GIVEAWAY: Ultimate Back to School Party Pack from Hellmann’s
Want to host your own party? You can! Hellmann’s is generously offering a huge giveaway prize to help you host your own Back to School Party. Sweet, right?
The Fabulous Prize Pack:
- White Scalloped Serving Bowl from Pier 1
- White Scalloped Cake Plate from Pier 1
- Colorful Beaded Salad Server Set from Pier 1
- 8 Estrella Reversible Placemats from Pier 1
- $200 AMEX Gift Card
- 2 jars of Hellmann’s REAL Mayonnaise
- 1 jar of Hellmann’s with Olive Oil Dressing
Giveaway ended. Congrats to Charity S. — Commenter #9
Disclosure (again): I am part of the Hellmann’s Real Foodies team and was provided with a gift card to help with the expenses for this party. Hellmann’s is also providing the giveaway prize. All opinions are my own.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.