(before school starts)

Prepare a welcome packet: Fill it with useful information about the school, PTO events, and how to get involved. Include:

  • What the PTO does

  • Officer email addresses and phone numbers

  • Scheduled events

  • Volunteer sign-up form

  • Parent interest survey

How To Create a Welcome Packet

Hold a back-to-school fair:
Welcome families and help them get organized for the new school year.

  • Give tours to families new to the school.

  • Don’t push too strongly for involvement, but mention some of the key things the PTO does.

  • Sell spiritwear.

  • Hand out the welcome packet.

Fair Flyer

Update the PTO bulletin board:
Highlight past accomplishments and give contact information.

  • Provide an overview of what the PTO does.

  • Display photos of parents and kids having fun at PTO events.

  • Highlight an upcoming event.


(after school starts)

Ice cream social: Start the year off with family fun and connect with parents.

  • Parents and students make name tags indicating the grade level and teacher’s name.

  • Parents receive the welcome packet, if they haven’t gotten it already.

  • The PTO collects parent contact information, including email addresses.

Ice Cream Social Flyer

First PTO meeting:
Running the meeting efficiently shows parents that the group is well-organized.

  • Greeters welcome parents as they arrive.

  • Officers introduce themselves and avoid any insider talk.

  • Child care is provided so more parents can attend.

Have a Successful First Meeting

19 Ideas for Better PTO and PTA Meetings

Parent interest survey:
A good survey helps match volunteers to roles.

  • Gather information on parents’ skills, interests, and availability.

  • Emphasize that all help is welcome, whether for one hour or 10.

  • Follow up promptly by email with parents who say they would like to get involved.

Volunteer Interest Survey

Coffee with the principal:
Give parents a chance to talk with the principal in a casual setting.

  • Greeters thank parents for coming.

  • The PTO provides coffee and doughnuts.

  • A door prize can help draw more attendees.

Challenge accepted! Concrete steps for a great start to the school year



Fall fundraiser: Held after the PTO has been able to connect with parents.

  • Get parents on board by sharing how the money will benefit the school.

  • Publicize the results of the fundraiser and thank volunteers.

  • If possible, take photos to show how the money raised is being used, then publish them in the newsletter and post them on social media.

Family movie night:
A low-cost event that’s just for fun. (Get a free Family Movie Night planning kit.)

  • Before the movie starts, highlight upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

  • Recognize the popcorn poppers, AV wizards, and all other volunteers.

Family Movie Night Tickets

Spaghetti dinner:
A free family event that helps build a sense of community.

  • Have a short meeting first to share the PTO’s goals and accomplishments.

  • Publicly thank all the behind-the-scenes volunteers.

Flyer distribution/email blast:
Family schedules fill up fast around the holidays, so ask parents now to save the date for events.

  • Tell parents about all the activities coming up in the next few months.

  • Include the PTO website address and how to subscribe to the email newsletter.



Book bingo and book fair: A free family event that promotes literacy.

  • Attendance is free with donation of a gently used children’s book; these books can be given as bingo prizes or donated to another organization.

  • Families can buy a low-cost dinner at the event.

  • Kids can pick out new books at the book fair.

Book Bingo Template

Book Bingo Cards

Spirit night at local restaurant: A fun way for families to socialize outside of school.

  • Ask a few teachers to make an appearance.

  • Plug upcoming family events.

Resources for restaurant nights

Parent Involvement Day (Nov. 19):
Offer parents low-pressure volunteer opportunities.

  • Invite parents to help out that day in the classroom, in the cafeteria, or on the playground. Take a “class picture” of the volunteers and give out certificates of appreciation.

  • Write a newsletter article or send a letter or email asking parents to pledge to volunteer at least two hours for the school during the year.

  • Emphasize volunteer jobs that people can do outside of school hours and from home.

27 Easy Jobs for School Volunteers

PTO meeting

  • Provide donated food and plan a performance by students to draw more parents.

  • Share meeting minutes and any major decisions from the meeting by email or online.



Winter coat drive: Collect coats, hats, and mittens to keep kids warm over the winter months.

  • Help build school spirit.

  • Teach students about giving back.

  • Show parents that the PTO is about helping others.

Winter Coat Drive Flyer

Parents’ day off:
Provide an afternoon of child care so parents can do holiday shopping.

  • Ask high school students needing volunteer hours to lead younger students in games.

  • Provide materials for kids to make their own holiday cards.

  • Show an age-appropriate movie.

Breakfast with Santa

  • Round up volunteers to take charge of a pancake breakfast.

  • Children take photos with Santa.

  • Families can shop for gifts from local businesses that rent booths or at a holiday shop sponsored by the PTO.

Breakfast With Santa Flyer



Roller-skating night: Families enjoy a night at the roller rink with discounted fees.

  • Ease parents and students back into the school routine after the holiday break.

  • The PTO builds its reputation as a fun group.

Mid-year review:
Try to connect with more families.

  • Look through volunteer sign-up forms and parent interest surveys again.

  • Follow up with any potential new volutneers.

PTO meeting

  • Invite a speaker to talk about preparing for college or another topic of interest to parents.



Multicultural night: A community-building and educational family event.

  • Reach out to families from other countries.

  • Attendees learn about different cultures.

  • Families share foods from around the world at a potluck dinner.

Heritage Night Flyer

PTO meeting

  • Recognize all volunteers since the beginning of the year with student-made valentines and plenty of chocolate.

Cultivate leaders

  • Start thinking about who might consider running for a PTO office.

  • Lay the groundwork for nominations.



Read Across America Day: Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ March 2 birthday with a reading night for families. (Get a free Family Reading Night planning kit.)

  • Invite guest readers from the community.

  • Hold a birthday party for Dr. Seuss.

  • Give parents tips to promote reading at home.

12 Ideas To Get Schools Reading

Canned food drive:
Collect donations for a local pantry.

  • Provide a pizza party for the class that collects the most food.

  • Invite the local newspaper to take pictures of the collected goods.

Canned Food Drive Flyer

PTO meeting



Leadership transition

  • Finalize nominees for PTO board members and committee chairpeople.

  • Hold elections.

School work day:
Build school spirit with a little spring cleaning and landscaping.

  • Have projects for people of all ages.

  • Take before-and-after photos and post them on the bulletin board and website.

  • Serve sandwiches and cookies to volunteers as a thank-you.



New family outreach

  • Invite parents of incoming students to a PTO meeting or event.

  • Share information about family activities and school traditions.

Staff appreciation:
Find ways for working parents to participate.

  • Invite parents and students to write thank-you notes to teachers.

  • Arrange for parents to bring special treats for the break room.

  • Hold an awards ceremony with silly prizes for best dressed, celebrity look-alike, etc.

54 Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Volunteer appreciation:
A genuine, personal thank-you will keep volunteers coming back.

  • Plan a special event for parent volunteers.

  • Send a letter to the local newspaper thanking volunteers.

  • Create a tree out of butcher paper in the school hallway, with leaves bearing the name of each volunteer.

32 Volunteer Appreciation Ideas and More

Final newsletter

  • Print photos and bios of the new PTO officers.

  • Review the PTO’s accomplishments.

  • Thank everyone for a great year.