Hosting Tips

How to Throw a Back-to-School Shower

By Camille Styles
snacks for our iced tea party!

As much as I love summer, there’s something about those back-to-school vibes that still give me a chill (in a good way) and make me want to swap out my sandals for cable-knit tights. Growing up, there were two annual events that always softened the blow of summer’s end: the annual fall shopping trip I took with my mom, and the excitement of heading to Target with my school supplies shopping list in hand to stock up on fresh spiral notebooks and perfectly sharpened pencils. Of course, there’s no time more evocative of fresh starts than heading off to college – and I love finding ways to make the soon-to-be-freshmen in my life feel special and prepared for this next chapter.

We teamed up with Target to get our friend Adrian ready to move into her first apartment as a University of Texas student. She filled out her back-to-college registry, and we invited a few friends to shower her with everything she’ll need to start the new year in style. Keep reading for my tips on throwing a back-to-school shower of your own, plus my favorite products that kinda make me wish I was headed back to college myself this fall.

photos by Kristen Kilpatrick

Our friend Adrian (who happens to be our senior producer Carmen’s little sis) is moving into her first apartment as a student at University of Texas, so she was the perfect guest-of-honor at this back-to-school shower. We loved helping her get stocked with all the items on her wish list.

Shop The Look: turquoise gift wrap, spotted gift wrap

Even though my college days are far behind me, I still can’t resist Target’s school and office supplies aisles for my decking out my own desk. This season’s collections are brimming with bright, poppy designs that’ll make any student’s first day of class a little more fun.

Have you seen the adorable pieces from the Brit & Co. collection? We want them all!

Shop The Look: spotted spiral planner, mini binder, spiral notebooks, binder clips, magnetic bookmarks, stick-on patches

A little sister bonding time.

Shop The Look: Adrian’s dress, coffee & chill mugs

Back-to-School Shower Tip #1:

Make it an “iced tea party!” This concept puts a modern spin on the shower theme, plus it ensures flavorful non-alcoholic sips. Most parts of the country are still pretty sweltering, so serving a variety of flavorful iced teas is a refreshing way to celebrate.

Shop The Look: Camille’s skirt, glass pitchers

I made two types of iced tea that were as delicious as they were festive, especially when served in clear glass pitchers:

  • Green Tea with Honey, Mint, & Lime
  • Hibiscus Tea with Peaches, Blackberry & Thyme

Shop The Look: shower caddy, hooray! napkins, triangle confetti napkins, short plastic cups, tall plastic cups

The mugs that we gifted Adrian doubled as vases for our centerpieces. Nothing’s simpler (or prettier) than a single-stem peony.

Shop The Look: three-tiered cart, wire milk crate, DIY wall hanging kit, DIY macrame kit, geometric pillow

This shaved carrot, feta, & mint salad was bursting with color and fresh summer flavors. Stay tuned for the recipe coming soon!

Back-to-School Shower Tip #2:

Keep the menu easy breezy by setting up a build-your-own toast bar with grilled bread, fresh ricotta, fruit, jam, and nut toppings. Let guests assemble their own creations for a fresh twist on the tea sandwich.

Shop The Look: pom pom garlandLED lightbox sign

A few of our favorite toast and topping combinations:

  • Ricotta with Peaches, Honey and Basil
  • Ricotta with Apricot Jam and Blueberries
  • Ricotta with Cherries, Honey, Sea Salt Almonds and Sprouts

Back-to-School Shower Tip #3:

Encourage your grad to register for their apartment or dorm room wish list on Target’s College Registry. This takes the guesswork out of shopping and helps you purchase gifts you know she’ll love.

Adrian had a blast opening up all the items on her registry, from on-trend apartment decor to cute school supplies.

Chanel was equally excited to give Adrian her bedsheets set as Adrian was to receive them. The global burst pattern on these is both subtle and playful, and since they’re benzoyl peroxide resistant, the colors will stay vibrant all semester long.

Shop The Look: patterned sheet set

Back-to-School Shower Tip #4:

Package up gifts in vessels that’ll come in handy later. Shower caddies, baskets, and backpacks are “wrapping” solutions that are as functional as they are stylish, especially since most college students are looking for chic storage solutions for small spaces.

Cheers to the back-to-school season! All of Adrian’s cute gifts almost made us wish we were headed back to college ourselves.

One of the best parts of this menu is that everything can be served at room temperature — which means that I could prep everything before guests arrived, then enjoy the party right along with them as we lingered around the table nibbling snacks with our iced tea all through the afternoon.

Back-to-School Shower Tip #5:

Gift the grad some of Target’s cutest spiral-bound notebooks, and ask party guests to add their best piece of college advice to the first page of a notebook so the student can carry their words of wisdom with them to school.

Getting ready to send someone off to college for the first time this fall? Target’s college checklist is a must. It’ll help you remember everything from bed risers to Bluetooth speakers!