Five Back to School Favorites

The new school year is almost here and we are on the cusp of Big Kid's last first day of elementary school. Next year he will head to middle school and while his elementary years have been busy and full, I still remember his first day of school six years ago very clearly.

First day of kindergarten:

He is almost as tall as his grandmothers now:

It is strange how the days are long yet the years are short. Today, I have five back to school shopping tips that have served us well over the years. I finished up all of back to school shopping last weekend, mostly online, with the following five faves once again making my life much easier with their back to school deals.

1. Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
If you have a sports lover, their Nike for boys is the lowest prices around. I have also bought socks from the Sale, although this year I stuck with Target for socks and undies. What I like about Nike is that it all matches -- it makes dressing very easy for the boy, which is good because left up to his own devices, he would show up to school in a dirty tshirt and pajama shorts.

2. Zappos
Free shipping and returns -- I usually buy the kids' shoes in a couple of sizes and then send back the one that does not fit. My goto brands are Converse, Nike and Toms. This year we are branching out to include Vans. I learned the hard way to always purchase two pairs of shoes per child. Backup pairs are essential. I am also a big supporter of buying good quality shoes for growing feet, although I try to limit price to around $40-45 per shoe.

3. Zara
We purchased Little Kid's (who is seven) tees this year from Zara. You cannot beat $8 per shirt and no tax/no shipping. We are also devotees of H&M for affordable cute back to school clothes for the girl. Little Kid is creative (and picky, sigh) and Zara designs are off the beaten path, clothing-wise, yet still very affordable.

I blogged about this earlier in the year but we have had a hard time finding shorts long enough for school -- we found the ones she was wearing at H&M in the spring for $10 and bought every color. They are comfy, adjustable and cute. Highly recommend.

4. JCrew
While JCrew full price is a little rich for our blood, their summer sales are always excellent and usually comparable to target prices. It does not get cold here until late October so back to school for us usually means lots of shorts, cropped leggings and tees -- clothing that JCrew mark at deep discounts in July.

5. Amazon Prime This is actually a tip from my efficient neighbor and friend Kate: Amazon Prime for school supplies. What? I have never thought to Prime supplies but if you need them in a pinch and don't have the time or patience to fight the back to school crowd for school supplies, Prime will deliver them to your door in two days with free shipping. YES.

As for backpacks and lunch boxes, I highly recommend Pottery Barn Kids. They usually run a 20% sale during July which makes their higher prices more palatable. I bought my son a PBK backpack at their outlet and it lasted for three years. Warning: their rolling backpacks are not as sturdy though, Little's had two big tears in hers by the end of last year. This year, we are trying out a new backpack that we found at Justice. Jury is out on quality but Santa brought her a Justice lunch box last year and it held up very well.

So these are some websites that help make back to school shopping not so painful. I don't know about you, but fighting the crowd at Wal Mart while trying to grab the last box of pencil top erasers makes me break out in a cold sweat. If you do venture to the stores for school supplies, I highly recommend early on a weekday to avoid the crowds. Learned that the hard way.

Happy Back to School!

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