It’s the day that children long for and parents fear: the last day of the school year. In my family, while we do appreciate being able to sleep in a little longer and spend more quality time together, we also start driving each other nuts pretty quickly.

As anyone who’s ever spent more than one day with a child knows, sometimes popping in a family-friendly movie is literally the only way for adults to get something done around the house.

That’s why I propose a School’s Out Movie Matinee party that combines the best of both worlds: fun for everyone to celebrate the end of the school year, followed by an opportunity for parents to take a break for at least 90 minutes while their kids are safely occupied.

Here are some ideas for activities and treats to celebrate “no more pencils, no more books!”

Activities

  • Before you kick things off, hook up some outdoor or wireless speakers and put on a summer/beach mix to get in the mood.
  • Similarly, I will tell you that in addition to a portable speaker, some of the best money I’ve ever spent was on a bubble machine. I use that thing all the time. And you could use one for this little shindig to add to the vibe.
  • Buy a bunch of different-colored and silly-shaped sunglasses — any dollar or craft store will sell inexpensive options. Have the whole family decorate their own pair with glitter paint and puffy stickers and then take a fun selfie together showing off your new looks.
  • Those same stores also sell cheap flip-flops, which everyone can decorate with colored markers and glitter paint.
  • Add some blow-up beach balls, Frisbees, colored chalk and individual bubble wands in, and you’ve got something for everyone — and a lot of opportunities for spontaneous games and creativity.
  • If you don’t mind getting wet or messy, nothing says “School’s Out!” like silly string and water balloons!

Snacks

After everyone’s wound down and cleaned off, it’s time to press play on your movie matinee pick. But since you don’t want it to be just any old movie-watching experience, offer up some treats that will get the kids even more excited for the summer.

  • Beach Bears: Fill clear cups with blue Jell-o. Cover half of the top with crushed vanilla cookies so it looks like sand next to the ocean. Prop up one or two small bear cookies against the side of the cup and stick in an umbrella toothpick.
  • Pretzel S’mores: To me, S’mores = summer. This smaller, one-bite twist on the usual campfire treat is easy to make, though you’ll have to remind your kids that there’s nothing holding this version together. Two pretzels will form either side of the snack, and then you can put just one small chocolate square and a marshmallow slice in between. Grab it with your thumb and forefinger and pop it in your mouth!
  • Butterfly Baggies: Take small, clear snack bags and fill one half with something like sliced green grapes, and the other side with something of another color, like cheese crackers. Put a colored clothespin in the middle, draw a face on it and attach pipe cleaners for antennae. Voila! Butterflies!
  • Bucket Bites: Fill a bunch of small beach pails with various snack foods and then let your kids use a beach shovel to mix and match a concoction for themselves in a bucket of their own.

Congrats to your kids on making it through another school year!