Looking for a simple way to change things up? How about teaching kids a basic skill, doing a really simple holiday craft project, or even helping families get rid of their broken holiday lights in an eco-friendly way (and your group can make a few bucks from it)? 

  • Lace ’em up!  When teachers at Ocean City Primary School in Ocean City, N.J., mentioned several years ago that many children didn't know how to tie their shoes, the PTA responded by opening a shoe-tying clinic, an event it now holds each year. PTA volunteers report that they love this program because they can sit with children and not only teach them a basic skill but also spend quality time with them. The idea is especially great because it costs nothing, kids learn something, and parents get involved at school.

  • Try a simple holiday event: The Runkle School PTO in Brookline, Mass., is hosting a gingerbread house-making program in early December. The afternoon event is open to all students; children in 2nd grade or younger must have a caregiver with them. Children will work with donated milk cartons and other materials to make their creations, all of which will be Pinterest-worthy, we are sure!

  • Finally, a plan for those darn lights. You know how stressful tree trimming can get when you find a strand (or two) of broken lights? Well, one clever PTO figured out a way to make something good from this conundrum. Eastridge Elementary in Lincoln, Neb., is running a recycling program in which parents can drop off broken light strands at the school. The parent group contracted with a scrap company that will collect the lights and pay $.25 per pound. The parent group plans to put funds raised toward a playground renovation program.