Back to School Feast and Family Theme: Recombobulate

A back-to-school feast and family theme is a great way to kick off the school year for your kids. This tradition is something they look forward to every year and helps them to be excited to go back to school.

Our favorite back-to-school family tradition is a back-to-school feast to kick off the school year in style.

School for us begins the day after Labor Day, so the holiday festivities always include the back-to-school feast. We make a nice dinner, set up a fancy table, and introduce a family theme to guide us through the upcoming school year. My husband and I talk about our goals and hopes for our family and the girls also share their thoughts on what they’d like the school year to look like for themselves. After dinner, they typically model their first day of school outfit, though with teenage girls, it is usually completely different by the time they leave for school in the morning!

These feasts are usually kind of thrown together at the last minute. It’s become even worse as we work around a different college schedule and travel plans to get my oldest off to an out-of-state university. But I always try to thoughtfully pick a theme that applies to our whole family and that will be a bit of a touchstone for the girls.

This year (2020) was particularly difficult because we were just coming out of quarantine. My college student ended up leaving a few weeks early, and I flew out with her to get her situated. My two younger girls would both be entering high school, and while they were starting in person, things were very different than usual. We were buying COVID-19 school supplies that included things like masks and an abundance of hand sanitizer. Everything was just WEIRD.

When I traveled back home from getting my oldest daughter settled in her new apartment building, I flew into the Milwaukee airport. If you’ve ever flown through Milwaukee, you know about their “recombobulation stations” where you go to get recombobulated after being discombobulated in security.

I’d flown into Milwaukee many times before and always get a little kick out of the word as I’m putting my shoes back on and packing my laptop back in its bag. But this time it hit me differently. If there was ever a time where we all felt completely discombobulated, it was the year 2020. We were still feeling totally out of sorts, but I loved the idea of recombobulating.

As I was walking through the airport, I saw a t-shirt for sale that had the definition of the word recombobulate on it and promptly bought it. That was when I decided that the perfect family theme for 2020-21 was simply: recombobulate.

That shirt served as my design inspiration for the dinner table (which I did throw together), the crowns, and even the sign. Every year, I find some way to display the theme in our home to keep it close to our minds—usually it’s a simple printable in a frame.

This year, I made a printable very similar to the t-shirt I had purchased. I also wore the t-shirt to dinner, but there is no photographic evidence of that.

You can see our “Be a Pineapple” theme from the previous year framed in the background.

Isaiah 40:31 is the Bible verse we picked to match our theme:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

We knew that the upcoming year would be difficult, and indeed it has been. The high school started in person, masked and with social distancing. But two weeks into the year, they were forced to go online. They were able to go back for a couple weeks, but then our governor closed all high schools in early November. Online school was rough, and while they preferred to go in-person when they were allowed, it came with its own set of issues.

My college student also was mostly online and that was difficult for her, too. All of my girls really needed to find a new kind of strength.

My crowns this year were back to my typical rummaging through the craft supplies and figuring something out. This was the first time we only had two of three kids present for the feast.

This year, I printed their names with the separated syllables like dictionary definitions. As usual, their grade is also printed on the crowns. I printed on white paper, cut it into a circle, glued that onto a black square and then used black ribbon to finish it up. Easy and fast!

For dinner, my husband grilled his famous steak and some chicken. We added some squash and a cucumber salad from our vegetable garden and topped everything off with baked sweet potatoes. I’m sure we also had dessert, but since I don’t have a photo of it and I’m writing about this several months later, I don’t remember what it was!

And even though it’s a tradition to take crappy photos of my daughters in their crowns, I can only find pictures of my middle daughter. Either my youngest ran off with friends (she’s the social butterfly of the family) or she hated all the photos and deleted them off my phone.

But here it is! My middle daughter ready to embark upon her very last year of high school! Augh!

To download your own copy of the recombobulate theme, enter your email into the form at the end of this post. It will be sent immediately to your inbox for automatic download.

Here’s to recombobulating this year!

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