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Illustration for article titled Throw a ‘Welcome to Summer’ Party for Your Kids After One Hell of a School Year

Photo: Meghan Moravcik Walbert

Kids are always excited about the end of the school year, with all those weeks of freedom stretching out ahead of them. But I think it’s safe to say that this year, they’re particularly ready to kick school—and their Chromebooks and masks—to the curb. It’s time to celebrate all they managed to survive this school year with the biggest “Welcome to Summer party” you’ve ever thrown.

I’m always a fan of finding a reason to celebrate, which is why I first made the banner in the photo above two years ago at the end of my son’s second-grade year—an idea I originally got from this Offspring post. That year, when he arrived home from school on the last day, I opened up the door and let him run through. He cheered as he tore through the paper, and it felt like the official start to summer.

Even last year, after a school year that went out with more of a whimper than a bang, I decided we could do something to celebrate. Sure, all his summer camps and vacations were being systematically canceled one by one, but at least he didn’t have to hear the word “Zoom” for a few months, and that was worth noting. So the banner went on the backdoor, so he could burst out into the backyard—where I had set up the kids’ archery set I bought him and the inflatable pool I was able to score (after many hours of online searching).

If it was worth celebrating the end of school in previous years, it’s definitely worth celebrating this year after a full year of whatever their particular version of hell looked like. Maybe you feel comfortable inviting over a few of their friends, depending on whether they’re old enough to be fully vaccinated or if everyone is committed to staying outdoors and wearing masks, but even if it’s just you and the little ones, a celebration is in order. Here are a few other “Welcome to Summer” party ideas to get you started:

  • String up balloons and/or streamers around the home or backyard
  • Have a backyard picnic or their favorite meal for dinner
  • Dust off and pull out the old summer toys or yard games
  • Surprise them with a few new summer treats or toys, such as bubbles, water balloons or water shooters
  • Set up an obstacle course around the backyard
  • Turn up the music and have a dance party
  • Have a water fight (as a bonus, this is a good stress reliever for the whole family)

And even if your kids have already wrapped up school for the year, it’s not too late. Pick the next warm, sunny day, and throw yourselves a party to celebrate the end of the most ridiculously hard school year of their lives.

This article was originally published in 2020 and was updated on June 7, 2021 for updated context.



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