What’s Old Is New: 5 Back-to-School Décor Ideas

Take event-planning design cues from your kiddo’s school shopping list

From character-adorned lunch pails to freshly sharpened pencils and colorful erasers, for soon-to-be-studying kids and their parents, the end of summer means school shopping is around the corner. But have you ever looked at your shopping cart packed with supplies and thought, you know, this would make for fantastic meeting décor at my next event? Probably not. 

But like many of the most fun, imaginative meeting ideas you’ve brainstormed in the past, all themes don’t necessarily have to translate directly. In other words, you don’t need to force your attendees to take standardized bubble tests and write in cursive on the blackboard to hold a classroom-themed meeting. Rather, you can extract the best parts of growing up in school––recess, snack time, lunch––and channel them into a meeting packed with nostalgia. 

Here, we outline five fun ways to hold a retro classroom-themed meeting, in honor of back-to-school season. 

1. Snack Time

Just because your attendees are fully grown doesn’t mean they’re too old for old-fashioned snack time. From homemade cookies to cheese platters, try pairing school-age snacks with kiddie classroom décor (like clocks and crayons) for a supernostalgic feel. 

2. Don’t Eat the Meatloaf! 

While cafeterias are probably a common sight for many of your attendees (especially if they are frequent travelers), there’s no reason why you can’t incorporate the feel-good sentiment of school-age lunchtime into your meeting. Pair buffet-style food displays with cartoon backdrops for a fun look and feel. 

3. Teacher’s Pet 

When the time comes to get down to business in an Educate or Decide meeting, there’s no avoiding conference tables full of pencils, highlighters and Post-its. But with some classroom-inspired tweaks, your “serious” meeting can receive a nostalgic dash of fun. 

4. Sweet Tooth Rewards

Remember what a triumphant feeling it was to answer a question right in front of the class and receive a sweet morsel of chocolate or Bubble Yum bubblegum? Invoke that same excitement by setting up an elaborate candy display. Only this time, attendees can whip out their “adult” card and grab a bite whenever their sweet tooth calls. 

5. Playground Picasso

The only downside to creating a pastel-colored sidewalk masterpiece during recess was coming back the next day to see it washed away. “Adultify” sidewalk coloring by using chalk for signage and to advertise food and beverages, or allow attendees to write fun messages during a Celebrate or Network event. This time, however, the art will live on through your smartphone, rather than be washed away rain or the janitor’s hose.