Tips and Tricks to Help Conquer Your Back-To-School Shopping List

| August 19, 2014 | 16 Comments

Wow! Summer vacation is almost over and you know what that means: The annual back-to-school shopping trip!  It is the time of the year that parents cheer and jeer about at the same time because the kids will going to school, but us parents have to get their gang of kids together to get everything they need for the big day.  Whether this is your first back-to-school shopping trip or your hundredth, it can be a bit daunting. After a few cracks at this scavenger hunt, I have come up with a few tips and tricks that makes this yearly shopping trip a little easier for me and my caravan of kids!

Step #1 – Know What You Need
Many of the school boards where I live are thoughtful enough to provide a general list of supplies students in each grade will need for the school year they are entering.


If it was not provided in your child’s report card, or your child is entering a new school, you can always check out your child’s school board’s website to see if it is posted there.

Once I have gone over this list, I then like to see if I still have some of these items around the house. We tend to buy extra, you know, just in case my child looses or runs out of these supplies during the school year. This way, you could be saving yourself some money on items you do not need.

Where clothing is concerned, I like to rummage through my child’s closet with her and so a fashion show to see what fits and what needs to go.

Model Collage

For those items that do not make the cut, I like to either donate them to places where other families can use what we no longer need. Some of these places are the Canadian Diabetes Association’s Clothesline, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, Goodwill Donation Centres and to Parenting Groups on Facebook!

Stay or Go

Step #2 – Create Your List

I love getting my daughter involved in this part of the back-to-school process, too! Since she is old enough to write, we go over what is needed based on what we have or did not have from Step #1. For tech-savvy people, you can do this in your task manger or note pad app on you smartphone or tablet so you can refer to it while you are out.

Smartphone Collage

For a low tech option, you can write this list out the old fashion way by using pen and paper and carrying the list with you this way as well.


Step #3 – Have a Travel Plan

Now that you know what you need to buy for your child for back-to-school, do you know where you want to go to get what you need? This is one of the times of the year when retailers are BEGGING for you to spend your hard earned dollars in their stores! They have sales, deals, coupons, both in-store and online to get you to entice you to shop there. Just about everything you would want for back-to-school will be on sale at one store or another. It just all depends on what you are looking to buy.

Based on the deals you found, or did not find, figuring out where you want to shop is the next order of business. Knowing where you want to get everything you need to buy for back-to-school before actually going out to buy these items could save you valuable time and frustration. As well, checking out the floor plan of the store is a great idea, so you can park at the closest entrances to wherever you want to shop, and you will know where everything is before going there, so you will not get lost.


Step #4 – (Try to) Stick to Your List

I know this is hard to do because, well, it’s shopping, and something always catches your interest, but should keep your eye on the prize and, try to, just back-to-school shop. If you are shopping for more than what you child needs for school, then try to buy what is on your list first. That way, you have what you have gone out shopping for, and you can then go after other items you need on this trip, or those flights of fancy you see in the store. This step is really hard for me because I like looking around stores for things, especially for items like baby clothes, electronics and jewelry! If you are an online shopper, you can even skip going into the stores, and just shop from the comfort of your home! This way, you are avoiding line-ups, and everything gets delivered to your door!

Step #5 – Prepare for the Big Day

Once the back-to-school scavenger hunt is over, one way to make sure your child is all ready for the big day is to get their bag packed. If your child is old enough, you can have them pack what they need for their first day of school into their back pack. If they are too young to know what they should put into their bag, you can have them help you pack their bag. My little ones are too young for school, but they like helping with packing things, so they can give my eldest a hand with what she needs to put in her back pack.

Where the new back-to-school clothes are concerned, have them pick out what they would like to wear from what you’ve bought (getting your approval, of course), and have them set them aside so they will be ready to go on the morning of the first day of school. It is just one less thing for everyone to have to think about when all of the chaos ensues on the big day.

Those are my tips and tricks for back-to-school shopping. It took me a while to get into a groove of making this whole process go a smoother, and it also takes a bit of the stress off of me for getting what my child needs every September. I hope that these steps for back-to-school shopping can be useful for you, too!

Happy hunting!

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Category: Back to School, Dads, Family, Kids, Living, Moms, Shopping, Themes, Tips, Weekly Themes

About the Author ()

My name is Lian Wright. Born in Toronto, I came to Ottawa as a student to study Political Science at Carleton University, and came away with an Honours Degree, and decided to stay. I'm a huge sports fan, have a love of reading, and like experiencing new things whenever I can. I am now a mother of three children (11, 1 and 7 months old) and am kept constantly on my toes. My blog, Pieces of Me, is my way of sharing what I have enjoyed and encountered in my life so far as a mother. So far, being a mom has had it's expected ups and downs, but that's what makes being a parent so fulfilling for me. I've loved and learned from what's happened so far, and I can't wait to see what's in store for me next. I hope you enjoy the journey with me!

Comments (16)

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  1. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    Lots of good tips for all the back-to-school parents. Thankfully that is all behind me now 🙂 Having 7 children meant it was always a huge task.

    • Lian says:

      Hi Elizabeth! I must tip my hat to you! I’m not looking forward to the next few years when my other half and I have to do this for only 3 kids. With 7, you must have had an amazing system! 🙂

  2. KD says:

    Creating a list is important, as it saves aimless wandering and unnecessary purchases when back-to-school shopping! (I learned that one the hard way…)

    • Lian says:

      Hi KD! Yes, a list is ever so important when doing back-to-school shopping! I would not know where to start without one!

  3. Victoria Ess says:

    I would not make it through BTS shopping without a list!

    • Lian says:

      You’re right, Victoria! Doing BTS shopping blind would be a nightmare! Especially if you bought a whole lot of items you found out later taht your child did not need! Thanks for commenting!

  4. Maria Laskar says:

    We all know that the start of the new school year is very stressful. I remember well the pack of nerves I had …many years ago.

    • Lian says:

      Hey Maria! As a kid, I didn’t remember BTS shopping being so stressful. Now that I’m on the other side of the coin, I wonder how my mom did it without a list…yet another thing to thank her for!

  5. Judy Cowan says:

    All great tips, I also like to try and set a budget for Back to School shopping so we don’t get carried away.

  6. Lian says:

    Hi Judy! yes, a budget is also a great tip for parents when going to BTS shopping! Getting carried away can happen very easily. Thanks for sharing this extra tip, Judy! 🙂

  7. Anna Johnson says:

    I have my sons go through what we have at home first and mark it off their lists from school. We then take their lists to the store and they find what they still need and check it off as we go. We also buy extra of sale items I know they will need for other years. They double check at home when they pack their backpacks. You have great tips that make it all easier and with less hassles!

  8. Lian says:

    That is another good idea, Anna! Kids either loose things or run of school supplies throughout the year, and it is handy to have extras on hand. I would do it just my love of stationary.

  9. kathy downey says:

    I make a list for everything I do school/holidays/trips,I find if you have a list and stick with it things get done quicker and better

  10. kathy downey says:

    Time to start shopping for school,another year has come and gone now to get ready for September.

  11. kathy downey says:

    All amazing tips!

  12. Debbie White Beattie says:

    You’ve got a great list and kids just went back a couple of weeks ago so checking this list can help in case you’ve forgotten anything

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