The end of summer signals cooler temperatures, shorter days, and heading back to school, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing! The first few weeks back at school can be pretty intimidating. Saying goodbye to summer, getting used to a new routine, and dealing with new, unfamiliar teachers can be a scary prospect for kids, grandkids, and parents alike. One great way to ease the back-to-school stress in your household is to throw a party to celebrate the coming year.

Celebrate Going Back to School in Style

Make the start of the school year a bit more special with these back-to-school celebration ideas and recipes.

Host a Back to School Party for a Cause

School supply shopping can put a strain on many family’s budgets. If you are in a position to help others, how about throwing a backpack-stuffing party with your kids or grandkids.

  • Ask each guest to bring a particular item—glue sticks, paper, pens, etc. Provide backpacks (either new or gently used) and set up an assembly line for the kids to fill the bags with supplies.
  • After the work is done, let the kids play and eat. You can even allow them to help with baking some back-to-school treats. (See recipes below.)
  • At the end of the party, deliver the backpacks to your local YWCA, school district office, or other programs that help kids in need.

Chewy Maple Cookies

A little bit of sweet makes everything better, even the kids going back to school. These Chewy Maple Cookies are the perfect way to celebrate the end of summer.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Sugarman of Vermont Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease cookie sheets.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, syrup, and vanilla until well mixed.
  3. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheets.
  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Homemade Fruit Leather

This nostalgic recipe might take you back to your own childhood, with a rolled strip of sweet candy.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh strawberries hulled
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 3/4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3/4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cups granulated sugar or
  • A teaspoon of Sugarman of Vermont Maple Syrup

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to Bake at 170°F.
  2. Combine ingredients in a blender, process until smooth. If desired, strain the liquid through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl. Discard solids.
  3. Prepare 2 or 3 12×18-inch jelly roll pans with silicone baking mats (*see notes). Divide mixture between prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to create a very thin, smooth layer.
  4. Bake for 4 hours, or until fruit leather is no longer sticky. Rotate pans between oven racks and turn 180°F every hour until done.
  5. Transfer fruit leather to a cutting board. Slice into desired sizes. Wrap in parchment paper or wax paper to store.

Ice Cream Sundaes

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to celebrate summer’s end is with ice cream. Just grab your favorite flavors and use toppings like Sugarman of Vermont’s Sweet Treats — Bananas Foster, Chocolate Truffle, and Thai Coffee Maple Syrup.

Throw a Back to School Bash

Put an end to summer vacation with a school-themed party for your children or grandchildren and their friends. Already know some of their new classmates? Invite them to attend as well so the children can get to know each other in a more relaxed atmosphere.

  • Serve food in brown paper lunch sacks. Menu items could include sandwiches, cartons of milk, and red apples.
  • Play school-themed music, such as “Wonderful World” by Sam Cookie.
  • Decorate with chalkboards, globes, stacks of textbooks, and flashcards.
  • Play traditional schoolyard games such as tag, foursquare, dodgeball, tetherball, and kickball.
  • For dessert, serve caramel apples or apple cupcakes. (See recipes below).

Maple Caramel Apples

Fall is the perfect time to start serving a kid and adult-favorite caramel apple. Maple syrup can provide a fun twist to this classic treat.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour maple syrup into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, keeping a close watch.
  3. Let simmer until a drop of hot syrup turns to hard candy when dropped into a glass of very cold water.
  4. Meanwhile, insert a popsicle stick into the center of each apple.
  5. Dip apples one by one into the hot caramel. Remove excess caramel with a spatula and place, head down, on the cooking sheet.
  6. Chill in the refrigerator or keep at room temperature for 1 hour or so until caramel sets.

Back to School Apple Cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the White Cupcakes:

  • 1 box white cake mix + ingredients called for on the box

For the Buttercream Frosting & Decorations:

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp whole milk
  • 2 tsp Sugarman of Vermont Maple Syrup
  • red food coloring
  • red sparkling sugar
  • 24 Tootsie Roll Midgies
  • 48 green M&Ms

Instructions:

  1. Bake cupcakes according to the box directions. Cool completely.
  2. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Gradually add the powdered sugar a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Add milk as needed.
  4. Fold in red food coloring until you reach your desired shade of red.
  5. Spread cupcakes with frosting. Dust with red sparkling sugar.
  6. Place one Tootsie Roll onto each cupcake to resemble a stem.
  7. Place 2 M&Ms on each cupcake to resemble leaves.

Back to School Breakfast

Instead of having a party the night before, try having it the MORNING before so your kids or grandkids can get a good night’s rest before their first day. Make sure to include plenty of fun breakfast options so that everyone has a good time.

A waffle, or pancake, bar can be a sweet way to add a bit of something special to your back-to-school breakfast. Use Grade A maple syrup, some of your favorite toppings, and add in some fresh fruit for a breakfast treat that is sure to be a hit! Even better, you can add some flavored maple syrups to the lineup. Here is a simple maple syrup waffle recipe to use for your waffle bar.

Maple Syrup Waffle Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs (separate whites and yolks into two bowls)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup Sugarman of Vermont maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • toppings for the waffles

Instructions:

  1. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until stiff and set aside.
  2. Mix together dry ingredients and set aside.
  3. Combine egg yolks, milk, syrup, and melted butter.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients until just mixed.
  5. Bake in waffle iron until done.
  6. Add syrup and your favorite toppings.

Maple Fruit Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fresh chopped strawberries
  • 1 pound fresh chopped pineapple
  • 12 oz fresh blueberries washed
  • 12 oz red grades washed and halved
  • 4 kiwi peeled and chopped
  • 3 mandarin orange
  • 2 bananas sliced
  • 1 cup crushed pecans
  • 1/4 cup Sugarman of Vermont maple syrup

Instructions:

  1. Add all fruit and pecans to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Toss in maple syrup to coat and serve.

Don’t let the kiddos have all the back-to-school fun. Consider throwing a back-to-school bash for the parents to enjoy!

Meet the Parents Party

For little ones just starting school, it’s very likely that you’re not acquainted with other parents. If you’re up to it, a casual party to introduce yourself and get to know everyone may be the answer.

To keep things from getting overwhelming, you could have everyone bring a finger food, while you host in your backyard. If you want a challenge, you could hold it at a local park and organize a family baseball game or relay race followed by a BBQ to keep things relaxed and break the ice. Who knows? It may turn into a yearly tradition!

Moms and Mimosas Party

Invite your mom friends over on the first day of school after all the kids are on their way. Even moms deserve to celebrate the start of the school year! With a mimosa and iced coffee bar, along with a delicious menu with quick and easy brunch recipes, your mom friends will thank you for kicking off the new school year in style.

Champagne Maple Cocktail

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Pour maple syrup and bitters in a champagne glass and top with champagne.
  2. Twist orange peel over glass and drape peel on rim.

*Note: other sparkling wine such as prosecco can be used

Thai Maple Iced Coffee

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Fill a large glass with ice. Pour iced coffee concentrate over the top.
  2. Drizzle in Thai Coffee maple syrup and add a splash of half-and-half if desired.
  3. Stir and serve with a straw.