Back-to-school shopping can be fun and exciting: cool gear, the latest back-to-school fashions, and blank notebooks just waiting to be filled with the year’s work. On the other hand, sometimes back-to-school shopping is the exact opposite of fun and exciting: long lists of needed supplies, driving all over town to find all of the needed supplies, and waiting in long lines with other equally tired and frustrated parents. Instead of the mental anguish that often accompanies back-to-school shopping, make sure you’re at the head of the class with these smart shopping helps.


This post brought to you by Office Depot. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Daily Mom.

Make a List and Check It Twice

Shopping Smart For Back To School 1 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families Before you go shopping, make sure you know what you need. Elementary school supply lists can often be found on the school’s website. Print out a copy and read through it. If you have any of the items, gather them into a designated area and mark those off your list.

Local school lists can also be found in the school supply section of stores.

For middle school and high school, you’ll probably need to make your own lists. This will require a look at your child’s schedule to know how many classes they are taking and what kind. This will determine what supplies they need. Again, take inventory of what you already have. For example, if last year’s backpack is still in good shape, there’s no pressing reason to buy a new one. Folders, binders, loose leaf paper, spiral notebooks, pens and pencils, etc. all need to be assessed. After you have your list, here are some school supply shopping tips:

  • Bring Your List—Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the store without your list! Keep your list in an app on your cell phone if you are always misplacing that paper list.
  • Shop During “Off” Store Hours—Since a summer schedule usually means later wake-up times, the best time for school supply shopping is right when the store opens. Alternatively, shopping near store closing time will also help you avoid those crowds.
  • Leave Your Children At Home—Nothing is more distracting than miniature grabby hands and tiny whiny voices. If you know what your child likes and their color preferences or needs, you can tackle the shopping by yourself.
  • Bring Help—If leaving the children at home is not an option, bring reinforcements. Whether a spouse, a parent, or a friend, an extra set of hands is always helpful to wrangle children and supplies.
  • Shop Online—Avoid the crowds and impatient children at stores all together by shopping online.
  • In-Store Pick-Up—Ground shipping not fast enough? Try purchasing online then picking up in store. Give store employees about an hour to pull your items, and your order will be ready for a quick pick-up.

Back to school shopping shouldn’t have to be all about fulfilling needs. Let your kids express themselves with color and pattern options, personalized items, and fun little add-ons to bring smiles to their school day. From a rainbow of colors and designs for binders, folders, and notebooks, to unique pencils, pens, and erasers, their personalities will shine from the moment they hit the school bus. Shopping Smart For Back To School 2 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families In addition to all those paper supplies, your child probably needs some technology and organization supplies. Don’t forget technology needs. Does your incoming high school freshman need a graphing calculator? Calculators, usb drives, headphones, laptops, printers, desk organization, office furniture and more are all at your fingertips for one-stop back-to-school shopping at a store like Office Depot/Office Max. And don’t forget about their copy and print services! From posters to lamination, the helpful and knowledgeable staff can give your child’s school projects that professional touch.

Everything In One Spot

Shopping Smart For Back To School 3 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families Instead of driving all over town to get your supplies, peruse the store website. Add your items to the cart and choose “In-store Pickup.” If all of the items that you want are not in your nearest selected store, Office Depot/Office Max will tell you the nearest store within your area that does have them. Time saved! Shopping Smart For Back To School 4 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families

After you’ve selected the bulk of your items through “In-store Pickup,” when you pick up the items you can let your children wander the aisles to pick a few favorite supply item incidentals, like character-themed pencils or scented markers.

Personalize It

Shopping Smart For Back To School 5 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families Now that you have all the supplies you need for school, don’t let them languish in a dark drawer. Create a dedicated homework area with easy-to-see (and use) organization supplies. Let your children personalize their area with some washi tape, and they’ll be more excited to use “their” supplies.

Make it easier for your kids to write on the washi tape by cutting out the right size strip and sticking it on some parchment paper. The tape will lift off easily from the parchment.

Which personality best fits your back to school shopping list? Enter Office Depot/Office Max’s Back to School Sweepstakes for a chance to win all the great gear that comes with it! No purchase necessary. #NewGearFeeling  Enter Now

Shopping Smart For Back To School 6 Daily Mom, Magazine For Families

Need more ideas for a homework station? Check out Creating the Perfect Homework Station.

Photo Credit: Stefani

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Stefani Mons
Stefani Mons
Stefani was raised in California; with her husband hailing from South Carolina, they've settled in the middle and are now raising three Texans. She loves classical homeschooling, great books, period dramas, modifying recipes, simple living, deep thinking, and cuddling up with her family to watch silly YouTube videos.