Back-to-School Essentials for 2023

posted in: Parenting, Shopping Tips

Can you believe we are talking about school already – didn’t summer just begin?? Like it or not, it’s time to start thinking about shopping for all of those items your kids need, whether they are first-timers or old pros. I’ve found a slew of useful and kid-approved items for all the students on your list.



Yipes! Wipes ($14.99 for a 60-count canister)  

Let’s face it, kids of all ages get dirty. These wipes are safe and effective for removing dirt, grime, and sweat from hands, face, and body without drying out the skin. Yipes are made with 99 percent plant-derived ingredients and are free of parabens, phthalates, and petrolatum. They are also 94 percent biodegradable. Keep a canister at home and one in the car for cleaning on the go. Also available individually wrapped.

Thrive Natural Awaken Deep Clean Kit  ($36.85)  

Kids these days are looking for products that are good for their skin and for the planet. This 3-piece set of skincare products includes a full-size face wash, scrub, and face balm. The products are vegan, cruelty-free, GMO-free, and they contain super-plants that are unique to Thrive, including Juanilama & Fierrillo, which have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-microbial properties.  

acne patch

Avarelle Acne Acne Patch Original ($7.64 for 40 patches)

Most kids will get periodic blemishes no matter how well they care for their skin.  When bumps pop up, one of these thin, transparent patches will soothe the skin, reduce swelling, and promote healing with 2x adhesive hydrocolloids and all-natural ingredients like tea tree oil, cica, and calendula oil.  

meridian trimmer for body hair

Meridian Trimmer Premium ($73.99) 

Body hair doesn’t have to be a hassle. These trimmers are designed to tackle unwanted hair with ceramic blades that help to prevent razor burn and bumps. The trimmers run for 90 minutes on one charge and come in a variety of vibrant colors. The brand just introduced Trimmer Skins in a rainbow of colors and patterns for when kids want to change the color of their trimmer. 


Iron Flask Kids Water Bottle ($17.95 and up) 

These insulated water bottles are available in 10oz., 14oz., and 18oz, keep drinks cool for 14+ hours, and are available in lots of super cute colors and patterns. The bottles are made of high-grade rust-proof stainless steel with a leak-free straw lid and silicone carry handle and come with stickers for personalization.  The brand also has insulated food jars in two sizes that are available in tons of colors, including holographic and sparkly!

MyBevi Outlander Mug ($35.00)  

Ideal for bigger kids, these new 32 oz. tumblers fit just about any cupholder and keep drinks cold or hot for 24+ hours. They have a convenient carrying handle, a lid that is made of shatter-proof Tritan material, and a polished steel base that prevents scuffing or chipping. There are a broad range of colors and patterns that will showcase your kid’s personality and they can also be customized with a name, initials, or even a school mascot for an additional $5.

Light+Nine Lunch Tote ($40, some styles on sale for $12)

These stylish and easy-to-clean totes come in lots of color combos and are made with a perforated material specifically designed to be embellished with DIY Nimix graphic elements, like letters and designs. Each bag comes with a free pre-selected Nimix, but additional ones can be purchased, starting at $4.

B.Box Jumbo Lunchboxes ($23.95) 

Younger kids will love these leak-free lunch boxes, which are available in 10 different color combinations. The boxes have divided compartments, a removable tray, an ice pack, and a stretchy seal to accommodate larger round fruits. Also available in a mini size and snack boxes.

Bentgo Snack Cup ($17.99)  

Bentgo is known for their Bento-style boxes, but this divided snack cup is worth checking out. You can pack yogurt & granola, veggies & dip, chips & guac…any duo your heart desires. The cup is leak-free, microwave and dishwasher-safe, and BPA-free. Available in several colors.

(Re)zip Co 8-Piece Deluxe Bundle ($23.99)

These reusable, washable storage baggies are a great way to reduce your single-use plastic bag usage. They are 100 percent food-safe, BPA-free, and come in a variety of sets, including this 8-piece pack, which includes 2 mini stand-up bags, 2 stand-up snack bags, 2 flat snack bags, and 2 flat lunch bags, perfect for no matter what you pack for lunch.

Nature’s Garden Healthy Trail Mix Snack Packs ($20.99 for 24)  

For kids who gravitate towards unhealthy snacks, these healthy snack packs will help keep them on track! This resealable multi-pack contains 3 organic varieties: Cranberry Healthy Mix, Omega-3 Deluxe Mix, and Heart Healthy Mix, which will give kids energy and zip, plus a dose of vitamins. 

That’s it Fruit Bars Snack Gift Box ($29.99 for 20)

Another healthy option, this gift box contains several flavors of 100 percent fruit bars, including Apple + Mango, Apple + Fig, and Apple + Cherries. They provide vitamins and sweetness with no added sugars or other unwanted ingredients. Each bar is 100 calories or fewer.


Academy Sports Carhartt Classic 35L Duffel Bag ($69.99)

For your young athletes, this 35L bag is big enough to hold all the essentials for their after-school endeavors.  The bag has a padded, adjustable shoulder strap and the bag is super durable, made from 1200 denier polyester fabric. The Rain Defender water repellant keeps the contents dry and the Duravex abrasion-resistant base keeps the bag stable and strong.  Available in three colors.

Boot Bananas Original Shoe Deodorizer ($25.99)

These reusable, colorful shoe inserts are an effective, eco-friendly solution for kids’ stinky sneakers and cleats. Pop a banana in each shoe and it will tackle odor and moisture like a champ with natural ingredients like bamboo charcoal, baking soda, and Australian tea tree oil.

STNKY Bag PRO Washable Laundry Bag ($28) 

Ideal for funky gym or sports clothes, this bag will keep smells and moisture under wraps until it’s laundry time. To wash, just open the bottom zipper to release the inner mesh pouch and throw the whole bag – with the clothes inside – into the washer and dryer.

Keep Going First “Loaded” Minikit ($24.99)  

Toss this portable kit into a sports bag (or the backpack of an accident-prone kid) for easy access to 60 pieces of first aid essentials, like bandages with cheerful patterns, antiseptic wipes, and sting relief pads. There are even stickers to lighten the mood! The cases are available in several designs and are water & stain-resistant.


mDesign Bamboo Wood Foldable Laundry Basket Storage Organizer w/Removable Fabric Liner ($69.99)

A stylish option for bedrooms or dorm rooms, this bamboo laundry hamper is spacious enough to hold a large load of laundry, yet it can be folded up when not in use. It can also be used for clothing or toy storage. 

Wanderwild The Explorer Backpack ($55 + $10 for personalization)

Perfect for kids Pre-K through 5th Grade, these adorable, 15″ x 11.5″ x 5.5″ backpacks come in a broad range of colors and patterns that kids will love. The backpacks are water-resistant, made with recycled materials, and have padded straps, reinforced seams & handles, and even fidget tabs for restless kids. 

Dakine Campus M 25L Backpack (originally $65, now $45.46) 

This well-designed backpack is the perfect size for middle school through college. It has a roomy center section and functional storage sections, including a fleece-lined sunglass pocket, a padded laptop sleeve, an insulated cooler pocket, and mesh side pockets for water. It is designed to be comfortable and supportive with an S-curved back panel, shoulder straps, and an adjustable sternum strap. Available in dozens of fabulous colors and patterns so kids can showcase their personal style. Photo Op First Day Of School Personalized Dry Erase Sign ($19.99)

Every little kid needs one of these! This personalized, dry-erase sign can be re-used year after year to add flair to their first day of school pics. Personalization is available in 2 colors.  


Monster Power Shield XL Surge Protector ($41.99, regularly $64.99 on Amazon)

This power outlet is a must for kids who have multiple devices to charge but limited space. It has a 6ft double braided nylon cord and a powerful magnetic plate, which allows the power strip to be situated almost anywhere. It has a 540 Joule rating and includes 4 grounded AC outlets and 2 USB-A ports ideal for charging all kinds of devices. 

STM Goods Dapper Wrapper ($29.95)

We all have so many cords and accessories for our various tech devices!  This handy holder offers storage to keep them all organized and it looks cool, too. The slim profile allows it to be stored in a desk drawer or carried in a book bag.  Available in Black, Granite Black, Slate Blue, and Windsor Wine colorways.

Kingston Nucleum ($45.52)

With all the gadgets kids have these days, a hub like the Kingston Nucleum will really come in handy. It’s a USB-C hub, so it’s compatible with most laptops, and it allows you to connect up to 7 devices at the same time, including a 4K HDMI, SD cards, and more, and you can back up your phone while charging it at the same time.  

Creative QT LilGadgets Connect+ Pro Headphones ($18.95)

These brightly-colored headphones are perfect for screentime or online learning with a child-sized, cushioned, and lightweight design for kids ages 3 and up. They have shareport ability so you can connect more than one set of headphones to one device without a splitter and an in-line microphone for calls or programs that require voice participation. The volume is also limited to 93db to protect young ears.  

Lock Socket ($19.44 for 2)

A must-have for any kid who shares a room (or has siblings with sticky fingers!), this clever tool allows them to secure a device charger to the wall outlet so prying hands can’t take it. Available in a variety of options for tablets and phones.  

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Smart Shopping Expert

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes,, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.

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