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27 Ways To Make the PTO Table Pop at Back-to-School

by Kerri Beauchesne


The back-to-school open house is prime time for your group—this is your chance to shine! You’ll be meeting new and returning parents, so it’s important to make a good first impression. From new volunteer selfie stations and free parent gift packs to avoiding things like chair-sitting and clipboard amnesia, we’ve rounded up 27 fun and practical things to do (and not do!) at your PTO table this fall.


1. It’s getting hot in here (thanks, summer, for sticking around). Help parents cool off by passing out water bottles with fun, welcoming notes attached.

via The Teaching Zoo


2. Don’t forget your sense of humor! Show parents that your group is relatable and fun—something they’ll want to be a part of.

via PTO Today on Pinterest


3. A PTO brag board works pretty well, too. Many parents don’t understand just how much the PTO does for the school!

via Jill Hall on Pinterest


4. Back-to-school can get expensive (seriously, that calculator is HOW MUCH?!), so passing out free samples and coupons to parents is a great way to break the ice and bring a smile to their faces.

via PTO Today's Back2School program


5. Hold a drawing for a high-value door prize. We’re loving this gift basket that includes Box Tops for Education items...but we could be a bit biased there. A backpack of school supplies or school T-shirts for a whole family are good options, too.

via Darci Beck on Pinterest


6. No chairs allowed! It can be intimidating when folks sit behind a table. Being eye-level with parents is much more inviting.

via PTO Today


7. Don’t miss out on getting contact information for those parents who are ready and willing to volunteer. Remember to bring clipboards!

via PTO Today


8. Have fun with your volunteer recruitment! Ask parents to lend a hand. Or 20.

via Head Over Heels for Teaching


9. And for those of you who love to kick things up a notch (ahem...sound familiar?), a full-blown pledge tree using said hands is a pretty impressive display of volunteer super power.

via PTO Today on Pinterest


10. Have flyers explaining why parents should join the PTO. We stopped at 10 with this one, but we probably could’ve gone all the way to 100. Or 1,000.

via PTO Today


11. Instead of waiting for parents to approach your table, have a fleet of roaming welcomers (aka PTO Special Ops) wander around. Arm them with ipads or clipboards so they can easily get parent contact information.

via DragonImages/Thinkstock


12. Snazzy shirts make it easy for folks to identify your PTO...

via PTO Today on Facebook


13. ...but if shirts simply won’t do, there are always capes. Yes, capes will definitely do.

via PTO Today Live Expos


14. Put together a game plan ahead of time and define a clear call to action for your group. It’s nice to chat, but at the end of the day you want to be sure you have whatever you need to follow up with parents.


15. Keep the young’uns at bay while you chat with parents. Have simple crafts available, like coloring pages, Play-Doh, or beads to string on pipe cleaners.

via Surviving a Teacher's Salary


16. Have a laptop or tablet available. That way, if parents have questions about your Facebook page, blog, or Instagram, you can easily show them (#awesome).

via PTO Today


17. You can also play this awesome Parent Involvement Matters video. Have those volunteer info cards ready at the end—trust us, you’ll need them.

via PTO Today


18. Put a name to those happy faces! Have name tags available for your PTO volunteers to wear.

via PTO Today


19. Customizable PTO business cards work, too. Fancy, right?

via PTO Today


20. Let working parents know there are plenty of ways for them to help! Often they have a specific skill set your group can benefit from, like event planning or graphic design chops.

via David Sacks/Thinkstock


21. Have a one-page fact sheet about your PTO handy. (Yes, one page! You can do it.)

via PTO Today on Pinterest


22. Have a “can you guess how many” jar on the table. Use jelly beans, Legos—heck, even Box Tops! Tell parents you’ll announce the winner at the first PTO meeting of the year.

via MaryJo Thompson on Pinterest


23. Make sure parents know when that first meeting is! Advertise it on something they’ll actually use—like these customizable bookmarks.

via PTO Today


24. If you have a wall near your table—use it to your advantage! Tell parents a little about your PTO board and put faces to names.

via Indulgy


25. Make conversation by offering free mints. Don’t forget to use the always-popular PTO “involve-mint” pun!

via Teachers Pay Teachers


26. Have a new parent selfie station! Invite parents to pose with a #volunteersrock sign and someone from your group. Then, share the photos on your PTO’s social media channels.

via PTO Today


27. And most important, don’t forget to have plenty of those welcome packets handy!

via PTO Today


Feeling inspired? Good! Now go and grab the proverbial PTO bull by the horns and start thinking about your back-to-school event and what you can do now to get ahead for fall.

Originally posted in 2016 and updated regularly. Back2School® and PTO Today® are trademarks of School Family Media®.

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