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Back to School Party Picnic & Book Exchange

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Back to school dessert table with "Keep Calm and Read On" printables

Now here’s a clever way to your kids excited about learning: celebrate back to school with a Picnic & Book Exchange Party! I love the direction Kara of Lillian Hope Designs took for this back to school party… a book exchange is a great way to share favorite summer reads with friends and reconnect with classmates from the past school year. {This party is also full of great inspiration for teacher appreciation gifts or a schoolhouse themed bash at any time of year!}

PARTY HIGHLIGHTS to look out for:

  • Scholastically inspired fondant chalkboard and A+ paper
  • “Keep Calm and Read On” Signs with apples & notebook paper lines
  • Library card style invitations + brown bag picnic lunch embellished with cute tags
  • Make own bookmark station!

Back to school party sack lunches and picnic area

Back to school party invitations

Dessert table with lollipop printables

Antique school chair

Back to school cupcake toppers

Library book shelf

Bookmark decorating station

Book exchange library bookshelf

PARTY DETAILS, as told by Kara


My daughter Lilly absolutely LOVES books and reading! So I thought it would be a perfect idea to do a book exchange party to get her and her friends in the spirit to go back to school. The concept of the book exchange was for every child to bring 5 used books they are finished with and then they would get to go home with 5 new ones!


We invited the guest with Library Card invitations to get them in the mood! I designed the invitations to look like the old library cards that use to be in the front cover of books! I cut standard 5×7 envelopes in half to slip the invites into and then wrapped with twine! I always think everything looks better with twine :-)!


My daughter helped design all of the printables for this party and had so much fun doing so! Her favorite was the worm!

Dessert Table

I cut an adorable chevron table runner in half used it to add a bit of color. I used a chalkboard for the backdrop and added the pennant banner and decorations. The awesome vintage desk was my grandfather’s desk from when he was a little boy. The kids loved taking turns sitting at the desk and found it funny that the it was once a ‘real’ desk! I used book pages to make paper chains and paper fans throughout the party and my daughter was able to help make these (free and cute)! The sack lunches sat in an old picnic basket which belongs to my mom. I wrapped a bunch of books with a roll of craft paper to use throughout the table setting adding various heights. I found some wooden glasses at Hobby Lobby and painted them red to set up throughout the party! The vintage globe belongs to my daughter and has been handed down a few generations now… I loved the color it brought to the table. The amazing fondant cupcake toppers were made by Your Cupcake Story and the adorable mini cookies were made by The Talented Cookie.

Library & Picnic Area

For the library I reused an old dollhouse I found at an antique store for my daughters 7th birthday party décor. I laid tablecloths on the ground for the picnic and added a beautiful red chevron quilt that belongs to my grandmother on top of the tablecloths.


Once the kids arrived they put their books in the Library and then played some fun outdoor games while waiting for everyone else to arrive. Then it was time to grab their sack lunches and sit down on the blankets for an outdoor picnic. Once they were finished eating the healthy stuff it was time for sweets…of course the best part, especially when the sweets are so cute!

While they were eating sweets and drinking lemonade I passed out their Library Cards. The cards had 5 blank spots on them for stamps to go in each spot every time they picked out a book. Once everyone had picked out their books it was time to make bookmarks at the bookmark station and then fill their goody baskets with school supplies and sweets!

Everyone had such a blast and went home ready for school to start back up!!

Vendor Credit


  1. Emily Palmer Nelson September 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Love this!

  2. Sarah September 21, 2012 at 7:18 am

    What a terrific idea! What a fun way to celebrate the start of the new school year and to really make it a postivie event! As a teacher I love the idea of a book exchange party, which makes reading that much more fun!

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  4. Suzanne January 19, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I followed your link for the printables but they are not on the website. Do you know if they are available somewhere else? I would love to get the keep calm and read on signs for school. Thanks!

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