Back-to-School Gift Ideas

We’re not all parents, but most of us know someone who is heading back to school. The following gift ideas will help the scholar in you life prepare for a successful academic year while staying organized!

For those of us who ARE parents and are looking to save money and stock up on school supplies now, check out my new Back-to-School Stock-Up album on Facebook.

Writing Essentials Box

Basic School Supply Packs

Student Planners

Desk or Wall Calendar

Getting Organized to Go Back to School: The Organized Lunch (Plastic-Free Edition)

Nowadays in the United States, bento boxes are on every store’s shelves in the food storage aisle. Derived from 5th century Japan, the bento box has long been an effective means of organizing and packing a lunch and taking it on the go. Today’s Western bento box is available in a variety of materials, most commonly plastic. Fortunately for those who are attempting to reduce or eliminate household plastics due to health or environment concerns, bento boxes can be found in more stable materials. In addition to bento boxes, you will also find plastic-free utensils, water bottles, and neoprene eco-friendly, insulating lunch bags that can be used for packing lunches.  All items are relatively affordably priced, especially considering the ease of cleaning in a dishwasher without fear of the material leeching, melting, or becoming warped.

Made from a more traditional material, this wood bento box is microwave safe.

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Stainless Steel Bento Boxes – avoid microwaving

200-Pack of Wooden Disposable Forks  (only $15.95!)

Silicone Snack Containers!

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

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Neoprene and Other Eco-Friendly Lunch Bags

Neoprene – purportedly keeps food hot or cold for up to four hours

Insulated Reusable Tyvek Brown Bag

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Thermal Insulated Aluminum Foil and Pearl Cotton Bag

Getting Organized to Go Back to School: Backpacks!

One of the most important decisions in a student’s life is which backpack he or she will choose to carrying him/her through the year. Below is a small sampling of backpacks with various useful features at different price points for students of all ages. Most of them are available in an array of colors and patterns.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Clicking on the photos will direct you to Amazon’s product page. Should you choose to purchase from Amazon by clicking AND completing the ordering process, I will receive a small commission for the sale.]

This one has a USB charging port…[Take my money.] I know, right? I could end the blog entry here. But there are plenty more backpacks to see!

This one is water-resistant and fits a 14-inch laptop.

While this backpack does not include a built-in charger, it has multiple specialized compartments and can accommodate a travel charger in a position that will allow for charging externally by connecting the phone through a designated connection point on the bag.

This one has a charging point, is water-resistant, fits a 15.6-inch laptop, and is theft-resistant.

Very budget-friendly mesh backpack; perfect for schools that require see-through bags…also for kids who simply can’t be trusted. No need for random backpack searches when you can see the contents at all times! I’m joking. Sort of.

This one is water-resistant, has a charging port, and fits a 17-inch laptop!

Rolling Backpack with Matching Lunch Bag

Avengers Backpack with Lunch Bag

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Water-Resistant Kids Backpack with Matching Lunch Bag

Handmade Leather Backpack – fashionable gift for a university student

Did you know they make inserts to help keep backpacks organized?

Get Organized to Go Back to School!

Many of my clients are anticipating the start of a new school year for their children. Some are even returning to school themselves, either to teach or to work on earning a degree. This post is for those who are looking to map their route to success by putting an organized plan in place for the year.

[Note: The following products are available by clicking on the images, which will direct you to Amazon’s website. I am an Amazon affiliate; therefore, Amazon will pay me a small commission for all purchases made through the links from my site. The price for the buyer remains the same regardless!…Also…you can DIY many of these ideas should you choose to do so!]

Letter Trays

I am a huge fan of these, and I recommend them in various forms to virtually any client who owns and desk and uses it!

How do I get organized by using letter trays?

I’m glad you asked. For most adults, I suggest having three trays and labeling them as  follows: 1) urgent, 2) mid-term, 3) long-term.

As you may have guessed, the labels indicate the immediacy of the deadline by which you must address the items within each tray. Bills that are due within less than a month should go into urgent. Permission slips for next week’s trip to the zoo? Urgent. Choosing a new cable provider before the contract expires three months from now? Mid-term. A reminder that your yearly donation to your favorite non-profit is due by the end of the year? Long term. However, as a long term deadline nears, you should continue to move the item to the more immediate letter trays until the item is addressed.

I have seen this system work extremely well for even the most disorganized among my clients and those who absolutely hate structure. The key to staying on top of this system is to address the letter trays EACH time you sit down at the desk for the FIRST time within a 24-hour period, i.e. you should visit the letter trays once per day. If you follow these directions meticulously, I guarantee your desk will not overflow with paper.

This system also works well for older students who tend to have mid-term and longer term projects.

For young kids who have homework, I suggest using an inbox/outbox system. When the child arrives home from school, he or she should immediately place all homework in a letter tray labeled “inbox.” Ideally, the tray should remain on the child’s desk or work table. If the child works at a kitchen or dining room table, the inbox may be brought out when the child arrives from school and stored on a shelf or in another location out of the way once all the homework for the next day has been completed. Once completed, homework should be placed in another letter tray labeled “outbox.”  The outbox tray should be placed near the home’s entrance (also a good location for the child’s backpack once packed) to ensure the child and parent will not forget homework on the way out the next morning. One tremendous advantage to using this system is that it provides a very natural way for parents to monitor their child’s progress in school and to ensure homework completion.

Okay, sign me up!

Here are some letter trays:

A dual wall file also works well for a simplified inbox/outbox system when attached to the child’s door or in another prominent place in the home.

Organizing Letters from School, Permission Slips, and Miscellaneous Papers

Younger students often bring notices, conduct reports, permission slips, and artwork home from school to show their parents. For parental notices, I recommend using a wall file or letter sorter with multiple compartments. Each file or compartment can be labeled by document type (i.e. one for permission slips/things that need to be signed and returned, one for PTA announcements, one for artwork/completed work the child brings home, and one very clearly labeled for signed items/notes that are ready to be returned to the teacher).

 

 

Stay tuned for follow-up Back-to-School posts on lunch boxes, backpacks, and school supplies!