(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

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 the bulletin board.

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

  • 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.

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. 18): 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 home a letter 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.

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.

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

  • Dads 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 those who haven’t been called.

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 from PTO Today.)

  • Invite guest readers from the community.
  • Hold a birthday party for Dr. Seuss.
  • Give parents tips to promote reading at home.

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.

Teacher Appreciation Resources List

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.

10 Quick and Easy Volunteer Gifts

Final newsletter

  • Print photos and bios of the new PTO officers.
  • Review the PTO’s accomplishments.
  • Thank everyone for a great year.