Know what's smarter than smart? A party to reunite school friends, cook up pizzas, and sip on cola floats.
Back-to-School Pizza Party
Credit: Beau Gustafson and Lee Harrelson

One of the best parts about starting a new school year is that your kids will get to reconnect with friends that they might not have seen much over the summer. Rather than letting the teachers have all the fun of seeing the kids back together again, why not host a group of pals for a homemade pizza night, complete with old-fashioned floats?

The Food
Homemade personal pan pizzas highlight this back-to-school party menu. Pizza is delicious and the ultimate kid-friendly food, but allowing the children to top their own adds a whole new level of fun. Simply mix the dough the night before (letting it rise overnight in the fridge), and you'll be ready to go when it's party time. You can make the sauce ahead of time too, or buy pre-made to save a step.

Once everyone's ready to eat, roll out the dough balls and set out bowls full of toppings like pepperoni, mushrooms, hamburger, green peppers, onion, and of course, CHEESE! (You might want to poll the parents for topping ideas beforehand.) Serve a chopped salad alongside the pizzas just in case there are any veggie-lovers in the group.

It's hard to beat cola floats for a late-summer dessert. Plus, floats are super-easy to make and involve kids' favorite foods groups: sugar and caffeine! Once again, you can customize floats by having a couple of different varieties of ice cream and sodas on hand. Classic combos include Coca-Cola and vanilla ice cream, root beer and chocolate ice cream, and Sprite and strawberry ice cream. You can also add shots of flavored syrups and top with whipped cream.

The Fun
While the food should keep kids well entertained, it's always a good idea to have some ideas for activities. You could ask everyone to bring photos or other mementos of their summer vacation, especially if they haven't seen each other in awhile. Popular, age-appropriate movies or board games are another option as well. The most important thing is that your children and their friends have a chance to get together in a fun, relaxed setting before another school year begins.