Your Essential Tips For Back-To-School Shopping
You can't miss them. The signs. All around us, pointing to the looming date on the calendar like big, blinking Neon arrow. Mannequins clad in fluffy cardigans and pretty plaids waving from store windows, emails blasting blowout sales on backpacks, binders and bedding for dorm rooms, catalogs chock full of jazzy pics of perky kids donning uniforms and backpacks.
Yes, those are just some of the signs that back-to-school season is here and with it comes, what else, back-to-school shopping. With so many options out there, how does a mom send off the kids to school in style without busting her budget and still staying somewhat sane? We rounded up some tips to help you do just that!
Love your list. It's the number one tip every shopping guru gives: make a list. Get a paper and pen or that handy-dandy notepad app on your phone - doesn't matter what you choose, just have one central place to outline what you will be searching for as you head to the store.
Start before you hit the mall. Before you pile into the minivan, open those closets and drawers at home. See what fits, what doesn't and what may be missing. Have your kids around and use this time to talk about what fashion they may be into (or not). Also take a gander at the homework area - how's that glue stick situation? Do you have a ton of spiral notebooks leftover from last year? Make notes on that list (remember #1?) of what you need and what you don't.
Review and preview. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "Plans are worthless, but planning is everything." Take a few minutes and think about how your day-to-day went last year and what is to come this year. Plan (and jot down on, yes, that list) what you may need to have on hand for soccer practices, bake sales or science fair projects.
Go over the game plan with the rest of the team. That means talking about shopping with the kids. Have them give some input on backpack selection, clothing items, and the rest. Lay down the ground rules (how much you can spend, how many of each item and so on), but listen to their preferences and figure it out before you are standing in the dressing room.
Check online. Around back-to-school time, many retailers have even better deals on their web sites. Surf around and see what you can find while you are sitting on the couch (the bonus here: when you get free shipping, you not only save postage costs but gas money too).
Know the backpack basics. It's the item your kids will use every day. Make sure it is strong and safe for them. Look for padding on the straps and select one that is the right size. What's the right size for your kiddo? No larger than his back, fall no longer than four inches below his waist, and sit about one to two inches below his shoulders.
Stock up on their essentials. Does your son love that hoodie? Buy a few of them while they are on mega-sale. Will your daughter use ruled notecards for studying? Pile them into the card when they are half-off.
Stock up on your essentials. Find a few go-to lunches and snacks for those more-than-hectic days and fill the fridge and cupboards with them. Lunchables and Snack Duos are ideal. Not having to think about packing a lunch or gathering up a snack, well, it makes mornings so easy, you can actually drink more than three sips of coffee....yes, Mama loves her coffee and her Lunchables.
Beware of buying too much. When hitting the jeans section and that area of trendy tops, hold off on buying too many, even though they may be on huge discount. Growth spurts and fickle tween tastes can zap any savings if those clothes no longer fit or aren't quite in style come November. Buy a few pieces, but stick with basics and plan on hitting the mall again periodically.
Say yes to a few fun items. Whether it is a Hello Kitty keychain to hang on her bag or a funny mustache t-shirt, saying yes to a few not-too-expensive, non-essential items can go a long way to make that back-to-school shopping trip enjoyable for everyone. If need be, have a set number of "fun picks" for each kid before you trek to the mall.
What are some of your best back-to-school shopping hints?
Disclaimer: The musings and opinions you just read all came from the nether regions of my brain (of course), but wanted to disclose that this blog post is part of a program sponsored by Lunchables.