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High School Hijinks

Whether you want to re-live or re-write the old days, a high school-themed party will, like, make you so totally popular.  As the hostess, you’ll be like the student council president and the class clown rolled into one, so set the tone right by keeping the mood light: revisit both the highs and lows of secondary education, and be willing to make fun of yourself.

Decorations Committee

As with every theme party, think sub-themes when setting the high school scene.  A high school party will be a great indoor party, where you can set up rooms to look like a gym, cafeteria, classroom, and dance.  In the gym, set out a giant cooler of Gatorade, hang or fold up athleticwear or gym uniforms from a thrift store, and hang homemade, felt pennants.  Sprinkle liberally with stop watches, whistles, clip boards and DIY garbage bag pom poms.

Serve most of your food in the cafeteria.  Be sure to set it out in stainless steel buffet servers and to use ice cream scoops as serving utensils.  Homemade posters advertising school events (blood drive, Friday night game, spring musical auditions) should adorn your walls.

In your high school party classroom, set chairs in rows and place a clock and a simple desk or table at the front.  Wallpaper the front wall in black craft roll, and leave chalk for party guests to write on it with.  Then break out old text books or borrow some from the library, and scare up some maps, a globe, and a few educational or motivational posters (picking a specific school subject, like English, will make gathering posters easier).  Travel or movie posters can work if you already have appropriate ones for history or social studies.  For effect, a few spiral notebooks (crammed with fictional notes and doodles, of course) will make it authentic, and you get extra credit for writing and scattering intricately folded notes.  If you’ve forgotten the art of note folding, check out this online tutorial.  It is fabulous, complete with library whispering and rad nail polish.

Finally, set up a school dance area.  Twisty crepe paper and a terrible light show over a cleared floor space oughta do it.  The dance would be a great place to serve some spiked punch, too.

Rock ‘n Roll High School

Music at your high school party should primarily reflect what was popular during the high school years of most of your guests.  Some rooms should have specific theme music and sound effects, though.  Hunt down a few fight songs, marching band tunes, and atmospheric effects for the gym (whistle blows, buzzers, cheers) and a school bell to ring periodically throughout the party.  Regardless of your guests’ ages, a few classic school songs should make the rotation, too, like the Beach Boys’ “Be True To Your School,”  Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education.”

Let’s Hear It For Government Cheese!

Stock the cafeteria with classic school lunch fare, served piping hot in compartmentalized trays, which frequently show up for sale at Target.  Little cartons of milk are a must with a scoop of mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, a roll, green beans, and a fruit cup.

Dress Code

Encourage guests to don whatever duds they wore in high school, either by putting together an ensemble typical of the era or by wearing actual letter jackets, jerseys, or uniforms that may be hiding in the backs of their closets.  Other options are costumes of high school archetypes, famous students or teachers, or era-appropriate prom attire.  People will want to take lots of pictures, so make sure you give them the opportunity, perhaps by setting up a photo booth or “senior portrait studio.”


If structure is your thing, consider moving students throughout the party as they would through a school day.  Start in the classroom, then all move to lunch, gym, and the dance together in sequence.  For more fun, announce a pop quiz (with prizes), play a team sport, or sign yearbooks.

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One Response to “High School Hijinks”

  1. Karissa says:
    June 5, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Very creative! IF I didn’t work at a school all day, I think this would be awesome.

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