How to Throw a Varsity-Inspired, Schoolhouse-Chic Party

See how we created a chic, co-ed look for a baby shower. We packed it with school spirit using vintage athletic gear, memorabilia and simple school supplies.
By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn ©Scripps Networks, LLC

Primary Color Scheme

Since every high school has its own signature colors, first think of a co-ed friendly scheme which will work well for the overall vibe of the shower or party. Here, orange and white are used, since they can be considered both masculine and feminine.

Tennis Racket Chair Swag

Put a preppy touch on your chair backs with swags made from wooden rackets and custom felt letterman's patches. To make these, print letters in two slightly different sizes on 8-1/2 X 11" card stock; cut out the letters for use as stencils; trace the letters to two different colored sheets of felt; place the smaller felt cut-out on top of the larger one; and then fuse them together with hot glue. Next, attach the letter to the center of the racket's strings using adhesive gum, and then tie the racket to the chair back. See the full instructions

Random Placement

When creating a varsity-inspired tablescape, it's important to stick with random placement of the repurposed objects for a whimsical, playful and collected look. A good rule of thumb is to start with the table runner and centerpiece first, then work your way from one end of the table to the other, filling in any voids with no rhyme or reason. Here, the table is nearly complete, with just two empty seats left which will quickly be filled with a few more stacks of books, pencil groupings and composition book place holders.

Megaphone Floral Vessels

Similar to repurposing wooden rackets as chair swags, megaphones can be repurposed into floral vessels. Measure their interior height then stack a few books on the table surface where they'll sit. Place a tall cylindrical vase atop the books then place fresh-cut flowers through the hole atop the megaphone. Take a look at the full instructions

Number Two Pencils

Sometimes the most basic school supplies make for fun party decor. Gather groups of sharpened yellow No. 2 pencils, then display them in drinking glasses. If the baby shower or party has a guest sign in, these will also come in handy to ensure every guest writes a message in true student fashion, with a good ole No. 2 pencil.

Black Pencils

If yellow No. 2 pencils are too grade school or middle school for your intended varsity look, black pencils are an excellent alternative. The dark finish works well with more chic or stylized aesthetics and can appear a bit more grownup.

Little League Trophies

Add some shape and sheen to your varsity tablescape with little league or junior varsity trophies. If you don't have any of your own, hit up flea markets and thrift stores. Gather them in odd numbers, randomly placing them along the center of the table, varying heights with vintage books used as risers.

Lunchbox Floral Vessels

Vintage metal lunchboxes are a huge hit for online auctions and antique dealing sites. Use them in an unexpected way as floral vessels. To do this effectively, lay the box on its side. Then add rectangular floral foam cut to size to the interior, creating holes for stems with basic drinking straws. Next, wet the floral foam and insert stems of flowers into the holes, lightly propping the lunchbox lid half closed on top of the flowers. The overall effect is an open lunch box with vivid life growing out of it.

Vintage Helmets

To add to the masculine side of your co-ed flair, use vintage football helmets as sculptural tabletop decor. These can be found at flea markets and vintage stores, and it's best to search for ones with tons of wear and tear, contributing a textural element to the overall look and feel of the party.

Cork Type Font

Varsity type font is popularly found at craft stores in the form of vinyl letters, iron-on patches and wooden letters. Put a grown-up spin on the classic characters by choosing the wooden letter version of the baby's initial, then outfitting it with discarded wine corks. First, paint the letter black to ensure the gaps between pieces of cork disappear. Next, cut the corks into random sizes. Then piece them together directly onto the black painted letters using hot glue. Download the step-by-step instructions

Composition Book Place Cards

Black and white composition books are iconic to schoolhouse style. Use them effectively as place holders by writing guests' names directly on the empty labels on the front of the book, or take it to the next level by printing custom-made names on sticker paper. This is also an excellent idea for party favors. Any images taken from the baby shower or party can be added to the pages for a playful scrapbook.

Pom-Pom Table Runner

Varsity style isn't complete without a nod to cheerleading. Add a touch of cheer with a pom-pom table runner. To make one, pick up a tassel tool from the craft store along with a cutting mat, rotary blade, fabric by the yard and a spool of grosgrain ribbon. Cut the fabric into 3/8" strips. Wrap it around the tassel tool several times. Next, wrap the ribbon around the tassel tool. Cut with scissors, tying the top to bind all strips of fabric together. Lastly, stitch the pom-poms along the edges of a ready-made table runner, keeping each pom-pom equidistant. Get the full instructions

Yearbook Risers

Here's an excellent way to strike up some great conversation at your varsity-themed baby shower or party: Use your own high school yearbooks as risers for your floral vessels or trophy centerpieces. Once the event starts, guests are likely to open up the yearbooks and reminisce about their glory days.

Grand Prize Trophy

Use a grand prize trophy as the centerpiece of your varsity tablescape. Choose a trophy with an interesting shape and finish, ensuring the scale and proportion of the trophy is conducive to talking back and forth across the table. If the trophy is too massive, it's likely to impede proper conversation.

Trophy Bottle Toppers

Put old trophies to new use as wine bottle toppers with basic tools and simple repurposing steps. Simply loosen the trophy topper from its base by twisting or using a screwdriver if needed. Then twist the trophy topper into the wine cork until it is snug. Take a look at the step-by-step instructions

Vintage Pennant Banner

Create your own preppy banner with mismatched pennants. Gather a variety of school-themed pennants in different sizes, materials and colors. Then attach them to one another using grosgrain ribbon or fabric tape. Fasten them to the ribbon using brass fasteners. Then attach them to the wall with picture-hanging nails. Get the step-by-step instructions

Gift Table

Every baby shower needs an eye-catching gift table near its entrance. For a touch of schoolhouse-varsity style, use reclaimed black-top science lab tables. Then decorate them with classic school-related items such as globes and trophies.

Flash Card Bunting

For a touch of toddler, decorate the baby's gift table with flashcard bunting. To make this, simply pick up paper flash cards from the school section of your local mega-retail chain. Then add holes into them with a hole punch. Next, string each of the flash cards together using twine, fabric tape or nylon rope.

Vintage Chalkboard Signage

Create a welcome sign that can be reused again and again. Search local vintage stores and flea markets for old chalkboards with aged, weathered texture. Use white or colored chalk to welcome guests with a simple or elaborate message. Once the baby shower is over, the chalkboard can be used in the baby's nursery for everyday use.