Practical And Stylish Guide For Back To School Essentials

Today’s guest post is by Vanessa from Style and Shenanigans, a blog about how to have style in and amongst and joy and chaos of family life.

Vanessa has three sons. In 2014, the eldest will be in Grade 2, the second begins Prep and her toddler will keep her company (and busy) at home. She has packed a few bags and lunches in her time and loves to find great products that are functional and fabulous. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

While Vanessa’s blog has only been going for a short time, she has already published some fab and useful posts, a few of my faves are:

Today though Vanessa is sharing her top stylish picks for back to school.


It feels like yesterday that I was at a school friend’s place on the last day of school, having the world’s longest play date. The Mums celebrated with a glass of bubbles while the kids played. For hours. I may have also broken out into “School’s Out for Summer”.

Alas, a few weeks into our holidays, it’s time to start thinking about the week after our last lovely summer long weekend.

Yes it’s true. Term 1 is nearly upon us.

Getting the kids sorted with all they need for the new term can be a time consuming, laborious process. And perhaps like me, you’d rather be chillaxing by the pool.

This guide is designed to give you some stylish and thoughtful ideas for your child’s start to school/kinder/child care. We all need practical things but it’s great when they look fabulous too.

Better still, most of it can be purchased online in the comfort of your (hopefully air conditioned) home and without the need to drag the kids around the local shopping centre.


1. Lunch Bag in Red Hibiscus – $14.95 from Me Too Please;

2. Name Labels, The Works Pack – $59.95 from Tiny Me;

3. My School Days, A Record Book – $36.95 from Milestone Press;

4. Art Smock – $34.95 from Penny Scallan;

5. Sandwich Keeper Plus – $32 from Tupperware;

6. Personalised Library Bag – $29.95 from Tiny Me;

7. Personalised Back Pack – $42.95 from Little Smudge.

1. Lunch Boxes

I have several lunch boxes for my children and find that different shapes work for different ages, fruit and purposes.

For my toddler, I use either a Tupperware Sandwich Keeper Plus (4) or a smaller lunchbox from Lark for snacks only.

The Sandwich Keeper Plus is perfect for small quantities of a variety of foods for a little person.

The little Lark one is fine for a small piece of fruit, a cheese stick and a few crackers but not much else.

For kinder, I used a Tupperware Sandwich Keeper Plus or a Ben Elke lunch bag from MetooPlease (1). They are gorgeous and a nice change from all the licensed options around the traps and can fit plenty of food in.

For my school children, I use either the Tupperware Sandwich Keeper Plus or a larger lunchbox such as the Decor Fresh Lunchbox (available from supermarkets, Target, Big W) which is great for summer as it comes with its own ice block, smaller containers and can fit a large piece of fruit.

Generally, I prefer the Tupperware Sandwich Keeper Plus as it is easy to do a “nude food lunch” and I like the four compartments. The only challenge I find, however, is that it is not possible to fit all types of whole fruits (apple, banana or pear) in it. A mandarin or kiwi fruit are fine though.

A larger lunchbox without compartments or a lunch bag are great for those mornings when you don’t have time to cut up the fruit or your child prefers a whole piece of fruit.

2. Labels

I love personalised labels. They look great, are functional and are easily identified by a child, particularly if they have had some input into the design or colour scheme. They are essential for naming drink bottles, books and stationery.

I’m a fan of the name labels from Tiny Me, a local Melbourne brand. They have a great range of colours and designs. My boys have the hot air balloon, dinosaur and vehicle designs. There are some gorgeous girls’ designs too.

I am also a fan of Tiny Me’s value packs, particularly The Works Pack (2) ($59.95) which includes the Gift Label stickers. The gift labels are personalised gift labels from your child, such as “Happy Birthday from Henry Jones.” I thought this was an odd inclusion initially, but last year, with one child at kinder and a busy year of parties, I loved that I could identify his gift with a sticker just in case it was separated from its card, as often happens when little people open gifts in a flurry.

If you choose a design that is relatively timeless, you can use them for many years to come.

There are much less expensive value packs available too if you are just after the basics.

Other great places to buy name labels for children include  My Name Label, Identi Kid, Penny Scallan and Stuck on You.

3. Library Bags & Smocks

At my son’s school, children are required to bring a named library bag and smock.

A library bag isn’t difficult to whip up on a sewing machine. However, if, like me, you are short on time, there are plenty of places to buy lovely library bags. I have bought library bags from Tiny Me (6), personalised with our son’s names.

For school, I don’t go all out with smocks. I usually pick up an inexpensive one from Target for around $8. The main requirement is that it can wipe clean and it will thoroughly protect their clothes.

If you would like a personalised or more stylish smock, check out Little Smudge, Stuck on You and Penny Scallan (4).

4. Bags & Back Packs

School children are usually stuck with the school’s design of school bag.

For younger children, there is a great range of bags to choose from and some great designs.

For kinder, my children all had the Tiny Me backpacks. The medium size is perfect for kinder, occasional care or child care. We also use these backpacks when we travel as they are an ideal size for children to carry and can hold enough to keep them entertained on a plane trip.

I am also a fan of Little Smudge‘s designs for their tasteful simplicity (7).

Penny Scallan also have lovely prints and an extensive co-ordinating range of other products including lunch bags, art smocks, gumboots and placemats.

Finally, if you also have school swimming to contend with and are on the look out for swimming bags, check out the range at Tiny Me and Little Smudge.

5. Other Bits and Bobs

I love a lunch box note. I think they are a lovely idea and a way to give your child a little pep up at school. It is easy to write your own on a card or notepaper. There are also a range of printables available from various places including here.

When I was growing up,  I had a “School Record” book which my Mum pulled out at the end of each year for our teachers to complete. It must have been a bit of a chore for her but I am so glad she did. It is now a treasured set of memories, particularly from an era of few photos and well before the era of photo books, collaged artwork and illustrated tea towels and plates.

I have bought each of my children a “My School Days: A Record Book“ (3) to record each school year. There is no space for the teacher to write but there is space for their school photo, details of the year at school and a whole page for the child to complete themselves of their reflections of the year. I think this is almost better than the teacher’s input. Each year is printed onto an envelope in which I put little mementos, artwork, special party invitations and notes from friends.

Finally, if you are looking for some fun stationery check out Smiggle, Typo and Kikki K. Office works also have a huge range of Lego back to school products. My kids have also found lots of great designs of contact (for covering books) at Big W including Spiderman, Star Wars, Batman and co.

Where have you found stylish and practical back to school products? What would you recommend?