The BEST Back to School Checklist Ever!

DoSayGive’s Back to School Checklist:



My Back to School Checklist is back and better than ever. This was one of my readers’ favorite posts last year probably because it is very thorough, heavily researched (hello, water bottles and lunch containers!), and can be shopped entirely online, if so desired. I put it together with lots of love for my readers who I know are super busy and prefer not to beat the streets in 100 degree temps! So enjoy your easy summer days by the pool a bit longer using this checklist (and share with your friends!).

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post!

1. Backpacks

My favorite brand is Pottery Barn Kids (20% off sitewide today with code FRIENDS!). They really are so durable and  last for several years. I also like Lands’ End (40% off today!) and Vera Bradley for girls.

Nordstrom also has several backapcks on sale as part of the #NSsale right now incluidng the “cool” Herschel brand (good for middle/high school). They also have the latest North Face (some on sale!) and popular Skip Hop backpacks ($20) for pres-schoolers.

Nike backpacks are always popular among boys (they have a pre-school backapck for $20) and And you can get Jansport backpacks with cute graphic prints on Amazon.

For smaller children, I also like the vendors on Etsy and Apples to Zuchinni monogramming here in Dallas.


easy lunchbox

2. Lunchboxes

For the past several years my daughters have had a Pottery Barn Classic lunchbox (20% off + free shipping today with code FRIENDS!) with these Easy Lunchboxes plastic bento boxes. I like them because they are inexpensive and easy to open, even for my youngest. Last year my older daughter had a Vera Bradley lunch bunch bag for the first time and used this insert.

This system has worked for us for several years but I know there are a million lunchbox options out there, many quite fancy, so I have been doing some research (on messge boards of some very astute moms!) and the overwhelming consensus is that the Yumbox is  the best. (Some reviews says that the compartments of the Planetbox leak itno one another and teachers don’t like them because they are so big!). Regardless, here are all the divided luncbox options:


3. Freezer Packs and Other Lunch Accessories

The blogger and author from 100 Days of Real Food recommended these packs several years ago and we still have them. They don’t melt onto the food! I also just bought these PB Kids freezer packs for my youngest and they are suppposedly melt-proof, too, but will let you know;). For $6 for two (on sale!) + free shipping it’s worth a try!

For dips, we use these cups. And the silicone yogurt molds are good for smoothies!


pottery barn kids water bottle

4. Water Bottles


For smaller children, the Contigo Stainless bottles have great reviews and the Klean Kanteens. Pogo water bottles are straw-free and Polar Water Bottes are as well – the latter will send you a new cap if you already have a bottle but your cap has been chewed on;).

For older kids, these Pogo ones are reasonably priced. Th S’well (free shipping!) and Corksickle are popular among older kids. (Note: these are hand-wash only so might want to invest in this brush to help clean). To personalize, order a decal from Etsy.



The best reviewed are these Contigo Stainless, Thermos, and we like Pottery Barn Kids water bottles becaues they snap close (and come in cute patterns!). And my oldest has gone all Pottery Barn Teen on me with this 17 oz. water bottle in capri (it’s basically the same design as PB Kids but just taller and in more tween type patterns). Most of these come in multiple colors:


5. Napmat (for the itty bitties!)

Pottery Barn Kids has these cute napmats. I also like all the classic ones on etsy!

Minted clothing label

6. Labels

I have a new post detailing Minted’s labels, including their new clothing labels (above). Right now get 15% off all back to school labels and notebooks at Minted with code SCHOOL2016. I also love Southern Stationery’s bag tags and stickers and Love Lucy’s bag tags. Mabels’s Labels are very durable and are what I used for Mother’s Day Out.


7. School Shoes & Socks

Years ago my friend, Nicole, bought a shoe measuring device on Amazon so she could measure her own children’s feet and order their shoes online – genius!  I just bought my daughters’ shoes at Nordstrom – T-strap keds, these Nikes as part of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and even saddle oxfords. When shopping online I usually order two sizes and send back what doesn’t work. Nordstrom has free returns and free shipping, so why not?


Amazon also has a great selection of kids’ shoes with free shipping and free returns if you have PRIME. It’s a great place to by soccer cleats, too.

Tip: You can buy those Jefferies socks you get in nice boutiques (for uniforms and ruffled socks for little girls!) on Amazon.

Nike shoes and shorts are on sale – link at bottom of post!

8. Undergarments

The school year is a great time to freshen up your children’s underwear drawer. You can always buy the character packs at Target but if you are looking for plain underwear, Nordstrom has several options (these Tucker + Tate are on sale!), Hanna Andersson has buy 1 pack, get 2nd pack for 50% off and, of course, Amazon.

For those of us with tween daughters, if you are looking for plain white sports bras/bralettes (hard to find!) I found these on Amazon or at GapKids.


If you like the little white ruffle bloomers for girls you can get on Amazon (linked above) and take to your local monogram store. In Dallas I like Hip Hip Hooray – they have some of the most beautiful monograms and designs.

9. School Supplies

Amazon is always a sure bet but right now Target also has some awesome deals on back to school supplies. You can even use your classroom supply list to order online and pick up in store to save time. Or have it shipped free if you spend over $25.

My daughters’ school suggests making a homework caddy – everything they will need to do homework in one place that can be taken into the kitchen or their bedroom or wherever they do their homework (Sometimes the car!). I use this caddy from Amazon (but cuter ones at The Container Store I am sure!) and include colored pencils, sharpened pencils (in our Well Bowed marker case!), a ruler, scissors, erasers, a bookmark timer for reading, and flash cards if your child’s school uses them.
homework caddy

Tween and teen girls will want a cute planner and cute pens. The affordable and super chic Sugar Paper for Target and Day Designer lines are perfect for this!

10. Locker Accessories

Amazon, of course, has the best prices and many of the same things you see in boutiques. And The Container Store has cute options, too.


Boys are not into all the frilly accessories but they do like sports team magnets accoridng to my sister (might be a fun little back-to-school gift!) .

11. Clothes

Stay tuned for back to school clothing posts for children! But so many popular retailers’ are having fabulous back to school promotions, many are online only:

Saint Bernard : Summer Southern Tide, Patagonia, johnnie-O, Vineyard Vines on sale.

Old Navy : up to 60% off kids styles.

Lands’ End : 25% off all kids styles + 40% backpacks

Hanna Andersson : 50% off 2nd tee, unders, and tights +$20 leggings!

Nordstorm Anniversary Sale  – Shoes, Shorts, Socks, and more up to 40% off!

MiniBoden : Buy 2, get 15% off; Buy 2, Get 20% off

Target – Back to school supplies starting at 99 cents!

Gap : 40% off  top and tees; 35% off everything else with code NOW.

Smocked Auctions – Great prices on classic clothing!

Also, if you monogram things (I monogram the collar of my daughters’ uniform shirt)  make sure you get to your monogrammer in time! I use Stitch Monogramming here in Dallas.

12. First Day Sign

Etsy has so many cute ones that can be ordered or printed. I also love this school bus chalkboard sign from Smocked Auctions ($12). Of course, Pinterest has lots of free printables, too.

love lucy design

13. First Day of School Teacher Gift

It’s always nice to bring a little something for the teacher on the first day and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Last year we brought a bag of apples with a note. The Love Lucy “Getting to Know You” printable is something your child can color and give to your teacher to help you be thoughtful throughout the year. (Room moms take note of this, too!). You can also get customized first day gift tags similar to the above photo here.

Other ideas: gift cards, cute water bottle and, of course, teachers can always use a cute personalized notepad:



I’ve linked everything above all in one place plus more great back to school finds in my Back to School Everything SHOP that can be found at the Shop dropdown tab at the top of my homepage anytime. Now all you need to do is get those back to school haircuts and you are done! √

Target Gift Card Giveaway!

Now 1) Share the post on Facebook (link below to the right) and  2) Comment below with one back to school tradition you do with your family, or want to do this year, because I am giving away a $50 Target Gift Card to one DoSayGive reader. I am going to share my favorite traditions in an upcoming post!

Giveaway ends August 10th at midnight. U.S. residents only.


Shop the Post:

Pottery Barn Kids Water Bottle // PB Teen Water Bottle //

Plastic Bento Lunchbox 

PB Kids Ice Packs (on sale!) // Yogurt Mold

Clothing Label //

Nike Shoes (on sale!) // Nike Shorts (on sale!) //

Apple Gift Tag 


What do you think?
Leave a Comment

42 thoughts on “DoSayGive’s Back to School Checklist:

  1. We always end the summer by going out for ice cream the night before school starts. My kids always come home from the first day of school to fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies.

  2. Our children pick what we have for dinner the night before the first day of school. I usually cook at home their favorite meal. With different start dates for my kiddos, it makes each one feel very special.

    Thanks Lee! Love your site and giveaways! 🙂

  3. My daughter is about to start pre-k in August. I’m taking her on a mom and daughter overnight trip to northwest Arkansas to shop for back to school things, eat out together, and just have some girl time before school starts! Of course we will take the first day of school picture too! So fun to compare it to the last day! Thanks for this post!!

  4. Each girl is getting surprised with a new bow to wear to school! My first grader is getting a fun monogrammed one in school colors (to jazz up her uniform!), and my preschooler is getting one that looks like a crayon in her hair. I have the best source here in my town, but she ships all over the country –

    1. Oh awesome. Thanks so much for sharing! I will look her up! I gave my daughter a monogrammed bow when she started Kindergarten last year and she thought it was so special to have her OWN bow (special when you have three sisters!).

  5. my son just started school so last year i took his first day of school picture & then used photo editing software to put different things about him. i plan on doing this yearly to see how he changes!

  6. Great post! I really want to take a first day AND last day picture to compare. I totally forgot about the last day picture last school year.

  7. It’s my son’s first year of Mothers Day Out this fall and I can’t wait to start new traditions! I ordered him a monogrammed apple shirt from Sweet Sprouts on Etsy and I would love to do that every year! I am definitely going to send an apple to the teacher with the questionnaire about their favorite things – very smart idea!

  8. Our oldest starts kindergarten this year so we don’t have any yet, but I think we’ll need to start some. I’d love to see the others ideas.

  9. We do pictures in our yard on the first day of school with a big chalkboard sign, and I cook them a special breakfast before heading out the door! 🙂 Thanks for all this info!

  10. We always have a big breakfast together on the first day of school. I try to do something fun, like smily face pancakes!

  11. Last year my son started kindergarten and I bought a cute crack to school door decoration shaped like a pencil and a chalkboard to write first day of whatever grade and the date. I plan to do this every year. We are also using a cute Nora Fleming message board with a cute school book attachment to do a count down!

    1. I mean back not crack! Gotta love autocorrect! Door hanger and chalk board are used for his first day of school picture!

  12. We have a block party breakfast buffer with their friends. We take pics on our front porch first then a group one with al the kids. Fun to compare over the years!

  13. We have breakfast together and they have one friend each over in the morning and I take a lot of pictures of my kids with all their new clothes and shoes! Shared on Facebook. Julie Wood

  14. No littles in my household, but I like to give a new dictionary (I am a vocabulary geek) and some fun school supplies to friends’ kidlets heading back to school.

  15. Liked and shared on Facebook as Andrea Darst! Each year, after going school supply shopping, the kids and I would sit down, separate everything and put their names on it all! I loved doing that!

  16. Pictures in front of our house and the school. So sad to be putting our oldest child on the bus to middle school for the first time. Will miss walking him to school.

  17. So many things I hope to do – maybe by the time my second is in grade school, I’ll have the program down. My mom used to do freshly baked homemade cookies every first day after school. I would LOVE to do the breakfast with the neighbors at our bus stop – may try and enact that this year even though it’s our first. And I never have a chalkboard or sign (plus my son isn’t a huge fan of overly posed pictures) but loved that one of your readers said she uses editing software to add facts about her child – have to do that! Definitely will do a special back-to-school meal and maybe ice cream the night before school! So bittersweet but these traditions help ease the pain.