Creating Your Own Back to School Traditions

In less than one week, my two sweet kids will be boarding their bus and heading off to their first day of school. It is hard to believe that another fun summer is behind us, but if this picture offers any indication, I am just a tiny bit enthusiastic about getting back to our daily routines and having time to work without carving time away from my attention to them.

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 Pinterest for free back-to-school printable signs to use for your big day. To really take your sign to the next level, visit Goodwill to find a cute picture frame to put your sign in and spray paint it for a pop of color. You could also hunt for a small chalkboard or create your own chalkboard using chalkboard spray paint and jot down their school year. 

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 Celebration plate that you decorate together using a plate from your local Goodwill store and a porcelain paint set that you can find at the craft store.  Use a waterproof marker pen to jot down the date and the exciting occasion you’re celebrating together on the back of your plate for a sweet tradition that can sit sweetly in your family budget. 

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!

Looking for the perfect recipe for homemade spaghetti & meatballs to celebrate your kids and their first day back? I have you covered with this easy sauce and baked meatballs that rival any Italian restaurant. Double or triple the sauce and meatballs for delicious meals that you can eat all week long! 

Homemade Spaghetti & Meatballs

For Sauce:

3/4 cup chopped onion (we omitted because we don’t like onions)
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 Meatball (this recipe will make 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 (remove the 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, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and meatballs and simmer thirty more minutes. Gently break apart the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon.  Five to ten minutes before serving, add in your meatballs and then 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, and the salt and pepper. Add the turkey & 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 in the baked meatballs for a few minutes. This will be just as delicious with a lot less mess and fewer calories.

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