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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.
Clockwise from left: 1) Penguin Backpack By Dabbawalla Bags, 2) JanSport Skull Backpack, 3) JanSport Tree Flower Backpack, 4) JanSport Argyle Backpack

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.
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 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.
I love this personalized Schultüte, but will likely replace some of the treats and I think we’ll make this an annual tradition until he’s just too **sniff** old **sniff** for it. (I’m so going to try to justify the price of this by amortizing its cost over several years).

You can also buy an empty Schultüte (smaller & less expensive) or make your own Schultüte. We’ve got an awesome step-by-step tutorial for you already.

Isabel Kallman
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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melissa madden

yay! Thanks for the Mabel’s Labels love!

melissa madden

yay! Thanks for the Mabel’s Labels love!