Editor’s note: We’ve left the original ideas in this article with some updates since 2017 because some can be adapted to work with local COVID-19 guidelines.
With so many groups doing so many downright epic things (and sharing them on social media), we just had to package ’em up and deliver them with a big bow for you and your PTO peeps to try out in 2022. Which one of these will you give a whirl in the new year?
1. If there’s ever an excuse to browse the American Girl doll catalog during a PTO meeting, American Girl doll bingo is it.
For one glorious night, you can forget about all the guilt that comes with spending more on a tiny doll bed than (ahem) an actual bed. When it comes to super cool bingo prizes, AG dolls and swag are a hot commodity. Your group can even apply to score a free doll through the American Girl product donations program.
2. Just when you thought you couldn’t one-up spray-painting the grass with a giant Twister board for field day, there’s this: a human-size version of Hungry Hungry Hippos.
We’re betting it’ll be your most popular game at field day or Family Game Night!
3. Give your holiday shop head honcho a break by letting the kids take over.
With a kid-run holiday market, everything is made—and sold—by students. Kids not only learn valuable business skills but also take pride in selling what they’ve made. And, hey, if you find an eggshell in your banana bread, at least you’ll know why.
4. Skip splurging on a splashy teacher appreciation lunch and gifts; instead, spread the love throughout the year with a “woot woot” wagon (go on, say it again for kicks!).
Fill a cart with goodies donated by parents and the PTO—then take it for a spin down the hallways. With so many themes to choose from (thanks, Pinterest), it’s easy to change things up each month: popcorn, seasonings, and soda (“just poppin’ by”), school supplies after winter break, and flowers and chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
5. Talk to your school’s food services director about making a food share table in the caf.
Students place unwanted, unopened, prepackaged items from their school lunches on the food share table, and those without a snack or lunch can help themselves—no questions asked.
6. Raise funds while helping newbie parents get to know each other, speed-dating style.
Not every parent is born with the gift of gab; some of us can be downright awkward, which can make attending school events a bit intimidating when you’re new. For this event, participating parents pay $1 to spend two minutes getting to know each other over icebreakers. And when two box-tops-toting strangers discover their love of the same home improvement show (rhymes with “mixer cupper”)—or better yet, their mutual passion for volunteering—well, let’s just call that PTO magic.
7. Deck out the girls restroom at school with words of wisdom.
Middle school can be tough—especially for girls. Help spread messages of kindness, strength, and positivity by commissioning your art teacher or a talented parent volunteer to paint inspirational murals in the school restroom.
8. Spice up your PTO meeting invite with a parody video that’s #StraightOuttaPTO.
Hey, you and your PTO peeps know how to have fun—and get stuff done. Tell parents (in your best rap or Taylor Swift-style voice) why they should come to that 7 p.m. meeting instead of folding a mountain of laundry. Share it on your school’s Facebook page for some can’t-miss entertainment in parents’ feeds.
9. Gift every teacher her very own Secret Santa with adopt-a-teacher.
Before the holidays, give teachers gift tags and ask them to write down items needed for their classrooms. (Tip: Include a number on each tag so you can identify each teacher later on!) Hang the tags on a tree during a school event and invite families to take one. Then distribute the gifts to teachers before the holidays.
10. Keep recess equipment organized (and get your PE teacher stoked) with an affordable DIY recess cart.
One PTO superstar made her cart for less than $50 using PVC pipes, fittings, and glue.
11. Help parents learn how to keep their kids safe online by hosting an epic (and free) Internet safety event.
With kids online more than ever thanks to classroom tech, social media, and gaming, now is the time to think about holding an Internet safety event in the new year. With our free event, parents get the chance to learn what kids are doing online and how they can help them use the Internet in a safe and positive way—and it's hosted by an Internet safety expert!
Even more stuff to love about this free event:
- It's offered in multiple languages
- Title I schools will also receive a code to confirm participation in this event to satisfy Title I parent and family engagement requirements
- You get to pick an event date and time that works best for your school community
- Parents can tune into this virtual presentation and live Q&A from their own devices at home, or your group can host this event in-person in the gym or cafeteria and stream it up on the big screen
Originally posted in 2017 and updated regularly. Family Tech Talk Night™ is a trademark of School Family Media®.