Tag Archives: teacher retirement

Teacher Retirement Centerpieces

6 Jun

After the pots and branches were set (instructions on how-to visit original Manzanita Madness post) it was time to decorate!  I needed something that would add color to my centerpieces, fit into my theme, and be the right scale for the branches and pot.  I happened across some school themed scrapbook paper I found on sale ($9.99 for 100 sheets!).  The sheets had multiple different patterns, sparkles, and colors– just perfect for the party, but I still had to figure out what I would use it for.  Then it hit me!  What screams school and teachers more than paper airplanes!  And, to top it off, the cost would be less than a penny for each plane!

How To

Perfect Paper Airplanes

I first used plain computer paper to figure out the size I wanted on the trees.  I went with about 4 inches by 7 inches.  I got four planes per 12 inch by 12 inch scrapbook paper (I eyeballed the measurement to make them all fit– three in one direction, one on the leftover top part).  Then I took a metal ruler and began folding the planes.  First I folded in half, then folded the sides in once, then again (to get a good point and a slimmer plane), then brought the two sides together and folded down from the middle.  Or click here for a pictorial tutorial.  I had purchased some yarn ($1.29 for a ton of yarn at Wal-mart) and cut lengths of about 5 inches and tied them into loops.  I placed the knotted side into the middle of the planes and then stapled them together.  I then tried to place one of each pattern on each centerpiece to get a lot of color for not a lot of cash!

Gingham Placemat

I thought gingham would be a good compliment to a teacher retirement party.  I purchased 4 yards and cut the squares roughly about 2′-0″ x 2′-0″.  I used a roller cutter on a cutting board.  I noticed I had some frayed edges and decided I needed to finish it off.  I had some wired red ribbon about 2 inches thick.  I used regular Elmer’s white glue to glue on the ribbon to the edges of the fabric along two sides.  If needed, I went through and “hemmed” with the white glue on the other edges.  The ribbon added some weight to the mats and made them see more expensive.  I sprinkled colored buttons around like confetti on the placemat due to our guest of honor being a home economics teacher.  I used the placemats also on the memorabilia table.

Mini Blackboard Table Cards

The table cards were made from black foam core that was cut in order to be able to use wooden tongue depressors.  I cut them about 4″ x 6″ (approximately).  I used hot glue to adhere the wooden sticks to the foam core.  I used scissors to cut blunt edges on the depressors.  Next, I used my Cricut to cut the letters for the mini blackboards.  Then I used a coordinating ribbon from my gingham placement (same ribbon just in a 1/2 inch size).  I used green floral sticks with metal wires attached to wrap around the ribbon and shove into my foam (worked really well and held them even during transport!).  I covered the area with an apple– it didn’t need it since the moss covered everything, but I liked the shiny apple at each table.  My table names went along with my theme and were based on stereotypical school cliques.  The tables were the:

  • Drama Queens
  • Bullies
  • Nerds
  • In-Crowd
  • Cheerleaders
  • Jocks
  • Outcasts
  • Preps
  • Misfits
  • Honor Students
  • Teacher’s Pets

 The guest of honor had a seat saved with a blackboard saying, “Saved for teacher” and had a matching red ribbon bow in the back of the chair that matched the gingham placemats.

Moss & Pencils

As I mentioned in my post Guest Book with a Twist, I instructed the guests to actually engage with the centerpiece by using little yellow golf pencils that were placed in the green moss.  They were to look like they were part of the theme only, but were actually functional for filling out the guest book and also for the surprise pop quiz (as mentioned in  Teacher Retirement Party Activities post) that was given.  We bought the pencils for cheap at an office supply store and sharpened them up a bit before placing them out.

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Teacher’s Lounge

6 Jun

One way to get guest up and out of their seats is to have a bar.  Be it cash bar, open bar, top or bottom shelf, people always will wander over for a look.  At my teacher retirement party, I took the theme and called the bar the “Teacher’s Lounge” and made the drinks coincide with my party.  The guest of honor’s school mascot are the buccaneers and we named it the most popular drinks.


Teacher Retirement Party Activities

1 Jun

Guests can sometimes be stuck to their chairs all night and not socialize.  To keep your guests from suffering for “Tree Stump Syndrome” I crafted some activities to get people talking, laughing, and, most importantly, learning more about the guest of honor.  I needed something to match my ‘Last Class’ theme that would get the guests to interact with one another doing something benign and silly.  These little activities usually help people loosen up and helps make the party more memorable.

Dunce Cap Doodle

I decided to create a song as a tribute to the guest of honor.  The springboard for the idea came from a message board site.  I liked the Yankee Doodle themed song since could download it from you tube without words to have the guests sing to at the party.  To keep with my theme, I decided that I would make Dunce caps and those with the caps would automatically be chosen to sing the song at some point during the party.

At first, the Dunce caps were around and people merely thought they were just decorations for the party.  However, the guest of honor began to choose people as she met and chatted with them.  She picked people like her old boss, some old friends, etc.  As soon as they received the hat, I discretely went to them and handed the song so they could read it over.  The guest of honor only knew she had to hand them out, but did not know why.  Then before the speeches, we asked all those ‘Dunces’ to come up to the front to receive their ‘punishment.’  Since I had about 10, people who were shy could still get up there without feeling bashful.  I was surprised at the amount of people who got out cameras to get everyone singing!  Everyone got a kick out of the whole production!

How To

I bought gray poster board and referenced First Palette for a little help on making a conical hat.  I measured my head with the string and then halved it.  I then attached the string to a pencil, held the sting at the center of my circle, and traced my semi-circle.  I cut out the shape carefully.  Then I secured the hat with a staple at the bottom and then fixed the rest of the seam with dabs of hot glue.  To make it more festive, I bout some spray glitter and glittered those bad boys up!  I also used my Cricut to cut out the letters “Dunce.”  I glued those on prior to the glitterization.

Party Pop Quiz!

Another idea was to help the guests be better informed about the retiree.   To do that we had a memorabilia table with old pictures, old year books, awards, etc. spread along the table along with mementos and decorations.  In addition, we had a sideshow running that had fun facts about when she started teaching compared to now (e.g., the average teacher salary from the 60’s to average teacher’s salary now).  Hopefully all the guests were paying attention because we had a POP QUIZ right after the speeches were done!

How to

I printed these out on my card stock I used for all the rest of my projects.  I chose questions that were tailored to those who attended (like the neighbors invited would get the car color correct, while work people would know about how many years she taught).  The questions were meant to entertain and to get people laughing and, at the same time, learning a little more about the retiree.  We also had some tie breakers in case we needed them.  We gave the top two guests gifts for getting the most questions correct.

Teacher Retirement Thank You Note

26 May

Here is a creative way to cap of the ‘Last Class’ teacher retirement party– Report Card thank you notes!  The guest of honor fills out the name and the comments section and delivers it in a ‘official’ business envelope.  Of course the subject areas correspond to the party and can change depending on what is appropriate for your event.  Tips on wording the thank yous can be found here.

One guest (coworker) responded back to the card saying, “B minus?! My wife requests a wife-teacher retiree conference immediately.”

Guest Book with a Twist!

22 May

At some point during that party, your guests will be sitting at the table with some idle time on their hands.  So, to keep them busy, why not have the guest book right at their fingertips!  Going along with my ‘Last Class’ Retirement party theme, the guests were going to “pass a note” to her during the party.  I first caught this idea from blog The Sweetest Occasions, where it had a great 80’s school themed wedding profiled.  I used past pictures on the pass a note (I had four different combinations of past pictures on the cards to keep it interesting!).  I accompanied the guest book with a pink eraser card holder to tie into my school theme.  I had mini golf pencils available for the guests to use.

The cards were 4 x 6 and can be put into a photo album easily.  I plan to place the note cards amongst the pictures from the evening.  The pink eraser holders were easy to make as well– just cut a deep slit into the eraser and insert the printed card stock.  I found there is a difference in pink erasers and some are easier to cut than others.  The pink erasers were 3/$1, so it will not kill the budget.

Pencil Vase

17 May

Finding an easy buffet and memorabilia decor was tricky.  I started in August and hit up the numerous sales for back-to-school.  Combined with a little bit of google searching, I found a cute and easy pencil vase idea!  I first saved and washed peanut butter containers.  I put some spray adhesive on paper and attached it to the plastic container.  I then put the pencils, eraser down, on with a hot glue gun.

I went all the way around, using the table as a level guide.  The process went pretty quickly and was not too hard.

I also turned the logos on the pencils so I could use multiple brands of pencils.  I then put a rubber band around the pencils and placed two contrasting decorative ribbons to hide the band and glued on a bow.

And viola!  Easy decor for the party!  Best part is that if you skip the hot glue, all the pencils can be donated/used!  More pictures of the vase “in action” can be found here.

Personalized Water Bottles

14 May

Finally finished the personalized water bottle labels for the party!  They were incredibly easy! I used the same full sheet labels I bought from the invitation address labels (from Amazon.com, only $26.00/100 sheets!).  I got 6 water bottle labels per sheet– purchased water bottles from a warehouse club at $3.64 for 32 bottles.  The labels were printed on a laser printer to make sure they do not bleed if the labels get wet.

The dimensions of the labels are 8.25″ x 1.5″ with 0.25″ margins.  I cut the labels and then had DH put them on.  I made two designs and will alternate them when I put them out.  Such an easy (and cheap at 16¢/bottle) decoration!  The tutorial for the Pencil Vase in the pictures can be found here.

Manzanita Madness!

17 Apr

Placing a centerpiece on a big table can be daunting– What size?  How tall?  How many??  I took to my google search skills and found Manzanita branch centerpiece.  The branches offered height and a bit of mystique, and still allowed guests to see through the piece to converse.    This was my answer to all my questions…

Manzanita madness, I have it.

After a little research, I ordered from Nettleton Hollow, but also looked at Save-on-Crafts.  Both have great options, different sizes, and color options.  I decided on the 24″ – 36″ sized branches because my tables are approximately 8′ diameter and seat about 8-10 people.  The cost per branch was about $10 after shipping costs and everything added.

Deciding on how large of branch, I decided I needed something that would be substantial enough to fill the space, and not be overpowering.  Blooms and Branches had a handy guide to measuring Manzanita branches that might help in your selection:

After the huge box arrived, I carefully lifted each piece out– they tend to get caught together, so be careful!!  Being a natural product, each branch is unique and has its own quirks.  Best part is that you can trim whatever does not agree with you.

I decided on Terra Cotta pots because the price ($1.47/pot) and the availability of sizes.  I spray painted them white (first with a cheaper spray paint that I used as a primer, and then with a more expensive gloss spray paint) to match the decor of the party.

Now time for the creation!  I bought stones from the store to set in the bottom of the pots to add some leverage against tipping over.  If using the clay pots and painting them, you need to make sure the rocks are dry or the it will make your paint bubble.

Next I put duct tape to plug the hole at the bottom of the pots.  I shoveled in the rocks (a little at first, placed the branch to secure, then added more rocks on top).

Then I had the options of how to set the Manzanita branches in the pots.  One is to use plaster of paris, but after finding out that one little package is about $8, I needed a better option when I was making 12!  Also, the prep and time involved in mixing plaster, pouring, and setting it was a little daunting.  I decided on expanding foam (about $3.50/can).  For all 12 centerpieces, I used only 3 cans (mostly because I over did it– probably could have used only 2 cans if I did not have such a heavy hand).  Also, follow the directions on the can about safety and precautions– this stuff is sticky and most likely only be removed with acetone (nail polish remover).

Example of my bit of over spraying is below.  The can said the foam will double in size, I would say in my conditions in my garage (approximately 80 deg, 80% humidity), I got about 40% expansion.

I sprayed the foam in and around the rocks and around the base of the branch by pushing the spray can straw down into the rock layers.

The product sets up in less than 8 hours, and then we were able to cut away the excess from my heavy handedness.  I trimmed it with a plastic knife and made it slightly below the rim of the pot.  The foam cuts extremely easy, and since I would be covering the foam, I sometimes ripped off what I did not want.

After all the pots were trimmed, I put some store-bought green moss to cover the foam.  I lightly placed some hot glue around on the foam to secure the moss for travel.

And  that is it!  Beautiful (and easy) centerpieces that are ready to be decorated!

After all this, I wanted to see how secure the branches were, so I brazenly picked up the whole thing by only the branch– the branch didn’t move, didn’t wiggle, didn’t budge.  I was suprised at the strength of the hold considering it was holding the weight of the 8″ Terracotta pot,  2-3 pounds of rocks, moss, foam, and the branch itself.  I would not recommend throwing them around the room like that, but good to know that this branch is very secure and can withstand a lot of top heavy decorations.

Here are the Manzanita branches decorated for the school themed retirement party.  I put paper air planes and pencils in the moss with an apple and the table name.

Teacher’s Last Class Retirement Party Invites!

20 Sep

Your card should convey the kind of party you are trying to throw.  For example, if your party is based on a theme, let your guests know about it, as you would not want them to feel out of place.  If it is a surprise, make sure to note that as well as if you do not want any gifts brought.  Along with the tone of the party, most importantly include: date, time, and the address of the venue of the party. Along with these details, also do give your phone number or email address, so that the guests can contact you, if any need arises. People usually prefer weekends to host a retirement party, so that all your invited guests can make it to the venue, and on the correct time.  Other tips can be found here.

Based on the tips above, I went all out for my ‘Last Class’ themed teacher retirement invitation.  The summons card had wording that denoted a more jovial and light retirement party.  I also included a direction card to help my guests.

For the Envelopes:

I chose black to look like a black board effect.  Ordering online is the only way to keep the cost down.  I got 100 envelopes for $27.70 (28¢/envelope).  But, to make the invitations a bit more designed, I opted for envelope liners.  A great tutorial is offered by blog Budget Savvy Bride.  I made a template as the tutorial instructed and for did the full liner for the hand delivered envelopes, but only lined the bottom section for the mailed envelopes.  I believed people would rip it when opening.  I made the apple/composition pattern on my computer and printed 100 full color copies to cut from.  In retrospect, I would have printed this on my home printer–color copies cost $50 (50¢/liner)!!

The wrap around address label was printed on full sheet labels purchased online (100 for $21).  I got 5 labels per sheet (4¢/label).  I printed these on my home printer.

For the Invitation:

I found a template for the file folder online and sized it to be small enough to accompany a 5×7 card.  I used A7 envelopes as well.  I bought a pack of 100 manilla envelopes and cut one from each (6¢/folder).  Then I had clear address labels which I printed with ‘Confidential.’  I also used my label maker to add the name to the folder tab.  These are items I had, but the cost per invite would be 2¢/confidential sticker and label.

Next, I went to Target and printed ‘school picture’ sized images from years past on 4×6 photos.  I got 4 photos on one sheet (25¢/photo).  Then I printed my invite on card stock from home.  I then added a real paper clip and a bit of foam sticky squares to pop the photo up off the paper.  I got the foam squares in the dollar section at target and the paper clips were 100 for 80¢. These prices were nominal to the overall invite.

For the Directions Card:

Using my home printer, I printed on school notebook paper I had from years past.  I then highlighted some of the key information and placed it in the file folder behind the invite.  I used a paper cutter to cut the ‘Cheat Sheets.” This was practically free since it is items I had on hand.

I sent out about 110 with a total cost to me of approximately $1.80/invitation.