Spring is finally rounding the bend (virtual high five, folks!), which means your group is likely kicking it into high gear and planning the auction, the carnival, teacher appreciation, and maybe even a few fun School Family Nights (it’s a good thing we PTO peeps love multitasking, right?!). Whatever fun events you have on the calendar, you’ll definitely want to bookmark our collection of 50 (yes, 50) hacks that’ll make planning and executing them much easier for your group—and a lot more fun for families.

1. Display cotton candy at your spring carnival or summer fair by hanging it from a clothes drying rack.

via eHow 

2. Turn a trash can into a Box Tops donation receptacle.

via Pinterest user Nicki Hensley 

3. Pringles cans work in a pinch, too (how fun is this for back-to-school night?!).

via Volunteer Spot on Pinterest 

4. Make a cupcake carrier out of an old cereal box, and never worry about getting it back.

via Make the Best of Everything

5. Draw in the crowds with a “free valet parking” offer.

Photo credit: Aneese/Thinkstock

6. Take the guesswork out of planning a fun family event with free kits designed just for PTO and PTA groups.

via PTO Today School Family Nights

7. Transform white shipping boxes into giant dice decorations for a Family Math Night.

via Piggy Bank Parties

8. Healthy snacks for Earth Day events are irresistible if they’re served in mini terra-cotta pots.

via Hostess With the Mostess

9. Scooping ice cream isn’t a problem (heck, you could do that in the dark, with your eyes closed). But scooping ice cream for your whole school? Slice it up instead!

via Wonder How To 

10. Or, if you’ve got it together (of course you do, you’re on the PTO!), scoop your ice cream into cupcake-lined muffin pans and pop in the freezer. Bam! Ready to go.

via Krysta's Life in Food 

11. If your event has activity stations, give volunteers a book to read aloud to their group in case they finish before the allotted amount of time is up.


Photo credit: Random House

12. Capture memories with a “selfie station.” Ask parents to share their photos on your school’s Facebook page. And if you’re really savvy (of course you are!), you can come up with a fun hashtag so that parents can easily tag and share their photos.

via Pinterest user Tiffany Anthony

13. Use golf tees to stake balloons to the ground—perfect for an outdoor event at school.

via B. Lee Events

14. No helium? No problem. Hang balloons from the ceiling with crepe paper.

via Woo Home

15. Insert glow sticks into balloons for glow-in-the-dark balloons (fun for a movie night!).

via Notebook

16. Keep kids busy in between activities with a simple “guess how many Legos are in the bowl” station.

via School Counselor Blog  

17. You know that little place called the dollar store? Stock up on clear plastic cups and use googly eyes, temporary tattoos, or stickers to jazz them up.

via A Healthy Slice of Life

18. Or, if you’re fancy (here's lookin’ at you, fancy pants!), you could use washi tape.

via Crab + Fish 

19. Paper plates + balloons = balloon Ping-Pong.

via Keeping It Simple

20. Throw some hay and a table tennis ball in a box for a game of “Find the eyeball in the haystack” at the fall festival.

via Meaningful Mama

21. Send polished email newsletters directly from your own personal email in just a few clicks to make sure everyone knows about your event.

via PTO Today’s Parent Express Email

22. Transform boring, store-bought treats into something spectacular with a few bells and whistles.

via I Can Teach My Child

23. Facebook is your friend! Tag all those parents you see frequently at school events in the comments of your “upcoming event” posts to make sure they see it. (Bonus: All our free family night planning kits come with Facebook graphics—score!)

via PTO Today's School Family Night Kits

24. Use an empty laundry detergent dispenser as a hand-washing station at outdoor events.

via BuzzFeed

25. Pick snacks that tie in to the theme of your event, like a kid-friendly cheese tasting (featuring prepackaged cheese sticks and Babybel cheese) for The Stinky Cheese Man at Family Reading Night...

via Tips from a Typical Mom

26. ...and colorful cupcakes (or gelatin cups) arranged in the shape of a periodic table at Family Science Night.

via Bellefonte Family Science Night on Pinterest 

27. Put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle for a no-mess school breakfast event.

via Home Hacks

28. Easily process payments on-site using an app like Square or PayPal.

Photo credit: monkeybusinessimages/Thinkstock

29. For those jazzier “parent-only” events, string holiday lights around a Hula-Hoop for instant fancy.

via Hative  

30. Jazz up juice boxes and pouches with crepe paper and googly eyes.

via A Three Hat Day 

31. Or prettify plain old water bottles with a roll of patterned duct tape.

via Taryn Williford 

32. Give your event a holiday theme—for example, plan a “For the Love of Books” Family Reading Night around Valentine’s Day.

via PTO Today's Family Reading Night Kit 

33. Make hot dogs for a crowd in a Crock-Pot...

via A Year of Slow Cooking 

34. ...and cook corn on the cob in a cooler.

via All She Cooks 

35. Spray-paint Twister on the field for a fun outdoor spring carnival or field day game.

via You + Me

36. Make it easy for parents to identify your group by wearing “Ask me about our PTO” T-shirts.

via Earnest Horn Elementary School PTO in Iowa City

37. Pass out themed movie night prop kits for audience participation (like clappers for when Dorothy clicks her heels during The Wizard of Oz).


Photo credit: EmBaSy/Thinkstock

38. Walking tacos (using allergy-friendly chips) are a fun, easy, and school-safe meal at outdoor events. 

via Keeley McGuire 

39. Plastic tablecloths are an inexpensive way to make backdrops for a fun photo booth.

via Makoodle 

40. Tickets make for a fun photo backdrop, too (bonus: you can reuse the tickets at another event!).

via Brooklyn Bride 

41. Duct tape—an instant parent icebreaker.

via Kitty Groups Online 

42. Also a good icebreaker? Free samples and coupons for parents!

via PTO Today’s Back2School Program 

43. Fancify a cheap plastic tablecloth with just a few nips and tucks.

via That's My Letter 

44. Plan a raffle basket around your event’s theme (we love this “mad scientist” gift basket for Family Science Night!).

via Meet Penny

45. Turn an old bulletin board into a pin-the-nose-on-the-(insert character here!) game.

via Fiona Carter

46. Spray-paint trinkets from the dollar store and use them as trophies (best costume at Family Movie Night, anyone?).

via Party Ideas 

47. Plan a movie night around movie release dates. More families are apt to attend if it’s a new movie kids have been dying to see.

via PTO Today

48. For the holidays, “wrap” tables into presents.

via Little Party Love

49. Bring Candy Land to life in the library with some oversize colorful squares (decorating for Family Game Night doesn’t get simpler than that!).

via The Bargain Hunter 

50. Get a year's worth of event and fundraising ideas in just a few hours at the PTO Today Expo.

via PTO Today's Expos