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Back-to-School Essentials

By Isabel Kallman

Back-to-School is around the corner (for some sooner than others) and there are so many back-to-school products to choose from, that it can be quite overwhelming.

This year, my mantra is “less is more” and other than my first-grade son’s school uniform, I’m limiting his “supplies” to three “essentials:” 1) a backpack, 2) personalized labels, and 3) a Schultute. I know, you maybe thinking that this is a meager list, but understand that I haven’t received a school supplies list from school yet and hot lunch is served at school, so no need for a lunch box.

Great School Backpacks

For my son, it’s with his school backpack that he expresses himself and his identity amongst a sea of school uniforms. Yes, there are licensed-cartoon character backpacks all over stores, but I’m secretly hoping my son will choose one from the selection below. I’ve included some “girly” choices as well (not for my son) but for you (and for me to ogle).

Below you will find that JanSport, maker of the traditional school backpack, has ventured out with some awesome designs. Perhaps these have been around for awhile, but they are new to me.
4 different backpacks
Clockwise from left: 1) Penguin Backpack By Dabbawalla Bags, 2) JanSport Skull Backpack, 3) JanSport Tree Flower Backpack, 4) JanSport Argyle Backpack (Some of the the backpacks pictured are no longer available. You can look here to find unique backpacks to fit your child’s style!)

Personalized Labels & Name Tags

When your child goes to a uniform-only school, labeling everything from sweaters, to shirts, pants and shoes becomes crucial. And no, I don’t like using a Sharpie.

Mabel's Label's School pack
Photo shamelessy lifted from my friend Design Mom

Luckily, the fine folks at Mabel’s Labels hooked me up with their Ultimate School Combo Pack for Ry. (Though in previous years, I have used my husband’s hard-earned cash to buy our own tags). Believe everything you read or hear about about Mabel’s Labels; their products are durable and fantastic! During the preschool years, I dabbled in vintage-looking sew-in labels. Boy were they pretty, but UGH the work. Plus, I need shoe labels and backpack tags.

A pair of red baby shoes with a personalized name label on the inside
A Back-to-School Present

Is a back-to-school present really a necessity? Well for my son, ritual and routine is very helpful to him and he needs help with transitions and a back-to-school gift is the way I get Ry excited for a return to school and all of it’s scheduling. This year, my husband and I are gifting him a Schultüte, a German school cone filled with supplies and toys for first-graders.
Personalized schultute
I love the idea of  personalized Schultütes (you can find them on Etsy.)  I think we’ll make this an annual tradition until he’s just too **sniff** old **sniff** for it.  You can also buy an empty Schultüte  or make your own Schultüte. We’ve got an awesome step-by-step tutorial for you already.

Find More Ideas for Back-to-School from Alpha Mom:

  1. Free Printable Personalized Book Plates for Back-to-School
  2. Back-to-School Bucket of Supplies Teacher’s Gift Idea
  3. New School Year Calendar Stickers Printable for Back-to-School
About the Author

Isabel Kallman

Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.


Isabel Kallman is the founding mom of

Feel free to send nice emails to isabel[at]alphamom[dot]com.

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