This school year was a momentous occasion for our family. This week, I sent both my children off to elementary school for the first time! It was a bittersweet moment for me as a mother. We truly have much to celebrate and be thankful for in our family – including our school milestones – and I always try to make these days as special as possible with a fun celebration dinner for the kids.
Today I want to share some easy ideas for fun school-year celebrations you’ll enjoy all year long.
Create a School Picture Tradition
I love to see how much my children grow each year and I’m always trying to think of a new way to capture this big moment in their life.
Create a sign that says what year they are going into school or search on the internet for free back-to-school printable signs to use for your big day. If you have a small chalkboard, you can also create a DIY sign for the big moment.
Try to capture the big things, like that growth spurt that seemed to happen overnight, and then capture the little things like their fancy new school shoes or their cool character backpack. Even if you might have missed the moment on the first day of school, there is an opportunity to capture this all year long and no one will be the wiser that it wasn’t your kid’s first day back. I promise that these pictures will later be a treasure to you and to your kids when they can look back and see how much they have grown and changed.
Create a Celebration Plate Tradition
One of our wedding gifts when we got married was a Celebrate plate that my mom picked up at our local greeting card store. This tradition was handed down to me because when I was growing up, any time we had a celebration in our family, the special recipient got to eat on the special plate.
You can create your own plate together at a paint-your-own pottery store, or find a plate that is uniquely different from your usual dinnerware. Use a waterproof marker pen to jot down the date and the exciting occasion you’re celebrating together.
Create a Fun Decorating Tradition
Our balloon wreath isn’t just for celebrating birthdays anymore. I now hang this wreath in our doorway anytime there is a celebration to be had in our house including those school year celebrations. You can make your own balloon wreath by covering a straw wreath with two large packages (of 72) balloons and attaching them with greening pins (in the floral aisle of your craft store). This wreath can be used for any of life’s little celebrations… big or small!
Create a Fun Meal Tradition
Nothing says celebration like a big plate of your favorite food. In our house, the most requested dish is my spaghetti and meatballs. When celebrations arise, whether it’s a great report card or the first day back to school, let your children make the dinner selection for the night. We have had everything in our house requested, from our favorite sub sandwiches to a taco bar night to homemade pizza. Not only will you not have to plan dinner one night, but the bonus is your kids will eat it and love it!
Whatever you do, I can assure you that your children will long remember and appreciate! I wish you many celebrations all school year long!
Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs
For spaghetti sauce:
- 3/4 cup chopped onion
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For meatballs (this recipe makes enough for a double batch, half to eat and half to freeze):
- 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1-1/2 cups grated Romano (or Parmesan)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound Italian turkey sausages (meat removed from casings)
- 1 pound ground beef
To make sauce: Saute onion and garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil until onion is translucent. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and sugar. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer one hour and thirty minutes. Stir in tomato paste, basil and pepper and simmer an additional thirty minutes. Gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Five to ten minutes before serving, add meatballs. Serve over a big bowl of your favorite pasta.
To make meatballs: In a medium bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, milk, ketchup, Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Add the turkey and ground beef, then gently stir to combine. Make your meatballs the standard size and put them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for ten to fifteen minutes. When done cooking, drop the baked meatballs into the sauce for a few minutes.