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alt. to ice cream social

Who doesn’t love a good ice cream social? You’ve got friends, you’ve got delicious ice cream and you’ve got a whole assortment of yummy toppings to customize your cool treat.

But, once the summer season has passed, an ice cream social can seem out of place when the weather outside is colder than the cream in your cup. But, just because the summer sun has set doesn’t mean you have to forego your family night altogether.

Whether it’s due to the season or because you’re looking to spice up your yearly family-friendly event schedule, you may be looking for alternatives to your ice cream social.

Lucky for you, we’ve got some seasonal ideas to help you out. Below are 4 concepts that you can add to your event roster or bring to your next PTO/PTA meeting for you and your group to consider.

1. Pumpkin Carving Party

pumpkin party

One of the core tenets of an ice cream social is the social part. You want to provide an event that brings families together. What better way than to provide the supplies, the space, and the atmosphere for families to come and carve pumpkins! You can ask for families to either bring their own pumpkin or make a donation to your parent group to receive a pumpkin at the event. Set up tables with newspaper and carving tools and plenty of bowls/buckets to capture the “guts.” You can also provide baggies for families to take home their pumpkin seeds with directions on how to season and roast them for a yummy fall treat.

This party is a great way for families to meet one another and get to know the PTA/PTO better. You can have a table at the event with further information about volunteering and upcoming events/fundraisers that parents can get involved in.

2. Popcorn & Painting

popcorn-10Most of us have heard of the “paint and pour” party idea. But a family-friendly version could replace the pinot with some popcorn! Host a party where families can create a fun masterpiece together while munching on some popcorn. You can even keep the toppings bar from your ice cream social so students can pour chocolate, cheese, caramel and other toppings on their popcorn. Talk to your art teacher(s) to see if she/he will host the paint party. Or, hire a painting teacher to walk families through the painting process.

You can have a general picture to paint, like a sunset or lake scene, or you could do something like your school mascot. If you don’t want to host a painting party where the families all create the same picture, you could turn it into a flair party – where families create signs and promotional posters for your upcoming fundraiser. We have tons of parents who participate in fun runs by making signs for their students and cheering them on during the event day.

Combining your family event with your fundraiser is a great way to increase involvement and excitement (plus, who doesn’t love popcorn??).

3. Spooky Film Fest

scared girl

Hosting a movie night or film festival is a great way to not only bringing families together, but also getting the community involved. Take advantage of the season of spooks by hosting a scary movie night or even showing 2-3 movies in a night and giving the families the option of dropping in for 1, 2, or all 3. Tip: Keep the movies kid-friendly. No parent wants to be up at night explaining that Freddy or Jason aren’t real. At your movie night, you can get the community involved by offering booths to local businesses as part of a sponsorship for supporting your Parent Group through a financial donation or by giving to your current fundraiser. The level of exposure at your movie night can be the reward businesses get for supporting your PTO/PTA.

Movie nights are also a great way to disseminate information. Create a custom PowerPoint slide to play like previews before each movie that has vital information that you want parents to know. Examples include: volunteer info, upcoming fundraising info, event calendar, upcoming board meetings, etc. Note: You do need a license to publically play movies (even if your event is free).

4. Thanksgiving Cooking Class

pie pecan

Family cooking classes are super popular right now. Take advantage of this trend by offering your own cooking class! Invite families to come out and learn how to make some traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. Get teachers and parents to volunteer as the chefs and keep the recipes relatively simple. You can ask for a donation to pay for the ingredients. A cooking class delivers a treat (after they cook, the families can chow down together on their creations!) and provides an activity that brings families together.

You can also provide ways for families to customize their dishes with different ingredients, spices, toppings, etc. You may even want to conclude the night with a Thanksgiving movie to play while families enjoy their yummy dishes. This event utilizes the DIY fun that goes into a traditional ice cream social - but takes advantage of the fall season (and teaches both adults and kids a thing or two about cooking)! 


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