Can you believe school starts next month? To save you time on back to school shopping, I put together this Back to School Guide. My hope is that you’ll be able to keep enjoying your summer while you knock out buying all those school essentials your kids will need soon.
I did a similar post two years ago on Back to School Ideas, and I received several emails from readers thanking me for helping them get “back on track” after a summer of relaxed schedules. Check it out for some tips on easier mornings, first day of school fun, and quick dinner ideas.
If you see something you like, just click the picture to shop. Some great sales happening now:
Hanna Andersson: 25% off backpacks
Land of Nod: 15% off back to school items
LL Bean: 20% off school clothes, backpacks and more with code KIDS20
When my kids were younger, I always turned to Pottery Barn Kids for new backpacks. They make such cute ones for nursery school through elementary school. And best of all? They last for years. My daughters made it through 3 years of preschool with the same pink polka-dotted backpacks.
Now that my kids are older, I’ve had to branch out in my backpack hunt. Lands End and LLBean have a great selection and are known for their durability. Zappos has the largest selection with brands from Under Armour to Jansport to Skip Hop (so cute for little ones) to Vera Bradley (popular with older girls in Dallas).
Last year, my girls picked classic Jansport backpacks in bright colors. To personalize them, I ordered these monogrammed patches and had them sewn on at a local shop. My son went with Under Armour, which is a very popular option for boys.
Remember the days when your mom backed your lunch with plastic baggies and a brown paper sack? That’s not quite as popular these days 🙂
I’m a huge fan of bento boxes. We’ve had these bento boxes for 7+ years! Love, love, love and highly recommend. I like bento boxes because they help ensure variety in my kids’ lunches.
I usually stick with a formula when packing school lunches.
Now that my kids are older and have been following this formula for so long, they can easily pack their own lunches, and I know they’re eating well at school. My girls really like taking soup for lunch, and we’ve had good luck with these containers. No leaks, and they keep food hot.
Pottery Barn Kids has again cornered the market on the cutest lunch bags around. They come in all shapes and sizes, and you can pick a print that matches your child’s backpack. I’m also loving their newest Emily & Merritt lunch bags that even middle schoolers might approve.
Of course, PBK isn’t the only option. Here are several more you and your kids (even older ones) might like. My daughter chose this one last year when she started middle school, and she still loves it.
Water bottles, ice packs, sandwich cutters, lunchbox notes, name labels. I know, I know. Back in the old days, our moms didn’t worry about any of these things. But, times have changed, and I think they make school more fun.
We’ve aways liked Pottery Barn Kids water bottles and these Thermos bottles. They’re available in seemingly endless colors and prints (including favorite cartoon characters). My kids love their S’Well bottles (the 9 oz. size), and I order them here for free shipping and returns.
My favorite neighborhood monogram shop, Well Bowed, also has some great personalized things for back to school: water bottles, keychains, pencil cases, and other goodies. If you live in Dallas, you can do free porch pick up, but she also ships. I’ve linked some nice teacher gifts, as well. We’ve given these a few times, and teachers always love them.
These are my favorite ice packs because they’re slim, and they always come home cold at the end of the school day.
When my kids were in preschool, I always cut their sandwiches with cookie cutters. It was an easy way to cut the crusts off the bread, and my picky eater son actually seemed to eat more of his sandwich when it was cut into a dinosaur.
Make lunch a little sweeter by throwing in a lunchbox note. Oftentimes, I write a little something on a napkin or sticky note, but Minted’s printable lunchbox notes are too cute. And they’re FREE!
I also love Minted’s name labels because they’re waterproof, dishwasher safe, laundry safe, and non-toxic. Use them to label everything we’ve covered here, plus shoes and clothes. I’ve learned the hard way–if it’s not labeled, it will end up in the Lost & Found or worse–in another family’s home. These are just a few of the nearly 300 you can choose from.
SHOES AND CLOTHING
I grew up in a very small town in west Texas, and back to school shopping was always an event I looked forward to. We traveled two hours to San Antonio every August which is pretty much the worst time to be there because it’s unbearably hot. Even so, it was a rare opportunity to shop at a “fancy” mall. I always loved getting new tennis shoes, jeans, and fall clothes.
Online shopping has changed that routine for many families, including my own. It’s just so much easier to order everything online, rather than schlepp my kids around the mall. And because it’s still so hot in Texas, they don’t need many new clothes to start the school year.
However, with prices so low at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I bought new tennis shoes and winter coats for my three kids. I saved $150 just on their coats! I wrote a whole post about Back to School shopping at the sale. I’ve picked some favorites, but hop over to the post for more. Shipping and returns are always free. So, if your kids outgrow their new clothes before they wear them, you can send them back. Prices go up on August 7–don’t delay!
I also love J.Crew Factory for kids’ clothes, especially their leggings and tops for girls and their polos and shorts for boys.
I mean just look at this old pic from the 1st day of school in 2014. My girls wore matching outfits from JCF. They won’t do that anymore, but they both still love classic Converse sneakers (free shipping and returns).
I don’t have to shop for school supplies for my kids because our PTA buys everything in bulk. That saves everyone money and makes it easier on parents. Even so, I usually stock up on new supplies to keep at home–pencils, notebooks, crayons, and such.
Target also has this new amazing service called School List Assist. You can choose to pick up your supplies at your nearest store or have them shipped to you. Simply enter your zip code to look up your school. Once you find your supply list, you can either add all those items to your cart at once or shop for them yourself. Isn’t that smart?
I hope this Back to School Guide is helpful. If so, share it with your friends–we mamas need all the help we can get! If you need any other back to school gear, just let me know.