This was a "First Day of School Celebration Dinner" I hosted for my twin girls to celebrate their first day of 2nd Grade. Another family joined us for a fun evening. This is the third year I've had a dinner like this and it's a great way to celebrate the first day of a new school year. You can see more photos here: http://www.andbabiesmakefour.com/2011/08/first-day-of-school-celebration-dinner.html
I bought three vintage books at our local Good Will for $ .49 each. One was from 1965 and had great black and white illustrations and the other two were illustrated completely with primary colors. Those three books were my jumping off point for a "vintage school" theme for the evening.
I primarily decorated the dining room since it was a dinner party. I made a garland out of circles punched from the three books that were then strung on a ribbon. It was easy to make but a bit time consuming. It's one of my favorite details. I purchased wooden chalkboards on clearance at our local JoAnn's that had gray "slates" to use as place cards. I then painted the gray part black and put each child's name on one using a paint pen. I then put one at each place and placed an apple on it. Each place also had a red napkin peeking out from behind the chalkboard. In the center of the table I placed a bouquet of sunflowers, billy balls, daisies and cabbage on top of two vintage copies of "The Bobsy Twins." I also put a wonderful vintage globe in the center of the table with more red apples and a metal school bus.
I love the book garland. I made a similar one for a baby shower using a vintage nursery rhyme book. There are always great books at Good Will and they're less than $ .50!
The "vintage school" look is easy to create with classic -- and inexpensive -- items that say "school." Things like: basic yellow pencils, pink erasers, a vintage globe, chalkboards, etc.