The best back-to-school gear and supplies for every age group

by Lori Bergamotto / / Source: Good Housekeeping

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Americans will spend approximately $83 billion on back-to-school gear and supplies this year, so we’re going to show you how to shop smarter to get your kids ready for a successful year.

New ways to back-to-school shop

Kids may be the ones who need new gear and supplies, but the stress and expense of all that shopping is definitely on the parents. So here are two new ways to get what you need and relieve that anxiety.

1. Boxed.com

Boxed is similar to those warehouse clubs where you can buy items you know you’ll need in bulk, but with one key difference: There’s no membership fee. You can bulk shop directly from your phone and Boxed will deliver everything directly to your door (free shipping over $50 orders).

We used the site to get: binders, notebook, pencils, tissues, Lysol, hand sanitizer and even snacks. Trust us, you’ll appreciate not having to buy those bags of Goldfish crackers again until after winter break!

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Ticonderoga #2 Pencils, $0.11, Boxed

Pencils
Boxed

Scotch Precision Ultra Edge Scissors, $5, Boxed

Scissors
Boxed

Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, $0.27, Boxed

Goldfish
Boxed

GoGo squeeZ Applesauce On The Go, $0.56, Boxed

Horizon Organic Lowfat Milk
Boxed

Horizon Organic Lowfat Milk, $1, Boxed

Horizon milk
Boxed

Prince & Spring Ultra Soft Facial Tissue, $1, Boxed

Tissues
Boxed

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer, $0.27, Boxed

Hand sanitizer
Boxed

2. Kidbox

The prospect of back-to-school shopping can be daunting for any parent. Luckily, Kidbox is a styling service that streamlines the process. You fill out a quick and fun style quiz with your kid and then — poof! — you'll get a box filled with items in their style and size. Pay for what you keep and send back the rest, then you can opt to get another box the following season.

6 - 8 curated items, $18 and up, Kidbox

Kidbox
Kidbox

Preschool and elementary school

Send them off to their early school adventures with supplies that make it fun!

Dinosaur Toddler Backpack, $19, Jane

Dinosaur backpack
Jane

This backpack for your littlest students will fit snacks and small supplies for dinosaur-obsessed preschoolers.

Lego Blue Brick Eco Backpack, $50, Lego Bags

Backpack
Lego Bags

Lego Bags are a hot new item that kids and parents alike adore for its style, durability and environmental construction; it’s made from eight recycled water bottles. (Want more? TODAY Parents wrote up this article on mom-approved backpacks for kids.)

Cheeky Kids Insulated Lunch Bag, $13, Target

Lunch box
Target

From insulated lunch bags that keep food cold for them at mealtime to insulated water bottles that keep them hydrated, your kids will love Cheeky Kids water bottles and lunch bags.

For every Cheeky Kids pack you buy, a child in need will get a meal right here in the U.S. through their partnership with No Kid Hungry.

Yoobi Water Bottle with Sticker Sheet, $9, Target

Water bottle
Target

Go intergalactic and start out the year by reaching for the stars with this space-themed collection.

Yoobi Donut Erasers, $3, Target

Yoobi donut erasers
Target

Trendy pastel supplies will be great for those with a sweet tooth who love a little doughnut or ice cream touch in their pencil case.

Yoobi Pencil Case, $4, Target

Pencil case
Target

Brightly colored and retro-inspired supplies make regular school items go from plain to positively personalized!

Panda Binder Zip Case, $5, Yoobi

Panda binder zip case
Yoobi

Super adorable cat and panda themed accessories for the animal lover in your life.

Middle school

Let their personality peek through with these creative accessories.

ClassMate TechPack Large Backpack, $55, Lands' End

Backpack
Lands' End

TechPack backpacks come in several sizes and include protection for electronics like laptops and tablets. And because it’s made from durable materials with padded straps for comfort, reflective accents for safety and loops for attaching a lunch bag, it's earned the Good Housekeeping Seal.

You can also get it personalized with your child’s name, but at this age, we’re seeing a lot of parents opt to put their child’s monogram instead as an extra security measure. Plus, these also have a lifetime guarantee!

Pompoms Paper Clips, $8, Ban.do

Paper clips
Ban.do

When you have something really exciting coming up in the agenda (like the homecoming dance) or something not so fun (like a trig final), mark it with something cute so they can look forward to it for months. These clips will do the trick, since you really can’t go wrong with tassels or pompoms.

LifeStraw Play, $40, LifeStraw

Water bottle
LifeStraw

Parents want peace of mind that their children are drinking clean water at school, at sports practice and everywhere in between. LifeStraw Play is a 10-ounce, customizable filtration bottle for kids that is BPA-free, leak-proof and easy to clean.

Its two-stage filtration system removes bacteria and protozoa, and reduces chemicals and bad taste. And for every LifeStraw product purchased, one child in a developing community receives safe drinking water for an entire school year. (If you want to browse more TODAY-approved water bottles, check out a few of our favorites here.)

Avery Peek A View Binder with 1-Inch Round Rings, $5, Staples

Binder
Staples

While this binder already features fun emoji design, you can easily add to it and print a personalized insert using the free templates at avery.com/print. The 1-inch round ring holds 175 pages, while two interior pockets let you store loose papers for extra organization.

High school

Have them head back-to-school with just the right accessories for studying.

Herschel Supply Co. Dawson's Backpack, $65, Bloomingdale's

Herschel backpack
Bloomingdale's

As kids get older, they don’t want the cartoon characters or monograms on their bags anymore. Simple is the new trend and nothing ticks that box like Herschel. These modern designs are both functional and stylish.

Rocketbook Wave Smart Notebook, $26, Amazon

Rocketbook Smart Wave Notebook
Amazon

Introducing the world's first microwave-to-erase-and-reuse smart notebook. Download the free Rocketbook app for Android or iOS to scan their content to Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, Box, OneNote, Slack or iCloud immediately after class. Pop their Rocketbook wave in the microwave to erase and reuse up to five times. It works with any pen, marker or highlighter from the Pilot Frixion line (one pen is included).

Mophie iPod, $14, Kohl's

Mophie charger
Kohl's

Don’t lose track of the kids! Keep them in constant contact with a power reserve keychain. It may be small, but it packs a big power punch giving up to 60 percent extra battery after a quick charge.

HP Deskjet 3755 Inkjet All-in-One Multifunction, $70, Walmart

Printer
Walmart

Compact and wireless, this printer is designed to fit a small space and will save up to 50 percent on ink with HP Instant Ink. Get vibrant color and power in the world's smallest all-in-one for home.

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