As the summertime comes into full swing, school is just around the corner! Us parents and our kids are squeezing the most we can out of the last few weeks of summer break. Almost time to start thinking about that fall school carnival that will be here before we know it! Here are 5 quick-tips to get you thinking in the right direction…

1. Have music. Parties without music can be a drag. Whether it’s just an smartphone plugged into a speaker, or the city’s best “Kid’s DJ”, have fun and upbeat music that the kids can relate to playing in the background. This erases that uncomfortable silence that kids and parents can experience when hanging around new people — and gives them something to sing and dance to while they are hanging out!

2. Cakewalks are cool! All you need are some numbered pieces of paper to stick on the floor in a big circle, a parent with a boom box to turn on and off, and a bunch of donated cakes, donuts, pastries, etc. Have parents donate these baked goods, and have a volunteer parent to run it. Kids get goodies to win and take home, a fun and exciting game to get in on together, and it didn’t cost a thing for the planning team.

3. Know what to get volunteers for, and what to book professionals for. Face painting? Often volunteer artists from a local high school, college, or youth group are looking to get community hours in, and do a fine job (although very basic) at face painting. You will probably need to provide them with face paint sets and brushes though. Balloon animals? Caricature drawings? Book these out to professionals. No one appreciates a slow balloon twister or caricature artist, whose designs are truly unimpressive. Dig into that tight budget, and if you can make it work, go with the pros for these.

4. Book your fun services well ahead of time! Artists often book up early, especially for the prime calendar days (Friday evenings, all day Saturdays, Sunday afternoons). Booking a month or two ahead of time, or no later than 2-3 weeks ahead, can assure you get that coveted calendar spot before the other PTO/PTSO/PTCO’s around.

5. Charge for tickets and/or wristbands for entry into the carnival or fun event. Wristbands could be $5-$15 each, and kids get total-access to all the fun on the big day. Or they can spend just a few dollars on tickets, and only hit their favorite 2-3 fun services at the party. Just be sure to make some stations at your school event free to all, so that all the kids can at least get in on some of the fun. Then use the proceeds from wristband and ticket sales to pay for the fun services you book out for the event! Anything extra that you make can go back into the PTO/PTSO/PTCO coffers.

From all your friends at Artsy Texas, may your back-to-schools be awesome!

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