DRAFT MODE -- The 2021 Back to School Guide - The Best Products for the New School Year!


Welcome to our Back to School Guide. Did you know that our Holiday Gift Guides and Back to School Guides are among our most popular posts?  I always write posts in hope of helping others, so I hope that you find inspiration in today's post that features unique and useful items for the new school year!  

U.S. Polo Assn. should be your first stop for new clothing this school year!  They have you covered with sizes that range from children through adults.  Personally, my son is like many other boys and typically wears polo shirts and button down shirts to school. U.S. Polo Assn. deserves credit for perfecting their polo shirts and offering them in a variety of colors and patterns. For instance, my son loves the classic white button down shirt, plaid button down shirt, and knit polo shirt below.  He is energetic and needs good quality clothing that lasts.  These shirts are excellent quality and should last the entire school year.

The new school year is also a great time for parents to refresh their wardrobe. My husband loves the iconic U.S. Polo Assn. polo shirts and button down shirts. For instance, the photo below shows his favorite two button down shirts with patterns for workdays and a polo shirt for casual Fridays.

My favorite casual dresses for work are from U.S. Polo Assn.  I'll return for in-office work next month. I've heard many friends mention that they haven't shopped for work clothing in almost a year. However, it's time to shop for work clothing again now that many workplaces want employees to return to their offices. The U.S. Polo Assn. is the perfect shop for a fresh wardrobe. They have it all, but let me highlight a few dresses that I personally love. The belted denim dress is my favorite. I love the light denim fabric and that the fitted style complements my figure. The oxford style dress is perfectly fitted and comfortable. Similar to my husband, I enjoy casual Fridays at work. The polo style dress is my go-to dress for Fridays.  I love the soft fabric!

You will find U.S. Polo Assn. clothing in 180+ countries at independent retail stores, department stores, U.S. Polo Assn. brand stores, and on the U.S. Polo Assn. website

Sperry is one of the most popular shoe brands right now. This iconic brand has been around for decades, but my son and all of his friends have recently become obsessed with Sperry's stylish designs.  My son is excited about his new Sperry Men's Striper PLUSHWAVE Slip On Sneakers. These best selling shoes are easy to slip-on and go with almost any school outfit. The innovative technology that provides light-as-air comfort technology grips and rebounds that stand up to my energetic tween.  The perforated suede uppers give enhanced breathability. My son raves about the comfort. I love that he has a favorite pair of shoes that he is excited to wear to school!

The Women's Crest Vibe Textured Denim Sneaker is another fantastic option for the new school year. These are essentially the shoe version of my favorite pair of jeans because I want to wear them all of the time!  The memory foam insole provides all-day comfort. At the same time, they are lightweight which adds to the comfort.  They are the perfect everyday shoe for stylish comfort this fall!

Jed North offers stylish athletic clothing. If you plan to have an active lifestyle during the new school year, you'll love this  Toronto-based athletic and lifestyle brand. They offer nice quality clothing at competitive price points. Personally, we have a family gym membership and visit our local gym at least 5 or more times each week. Our youngest son plays in the childcare area while the rest of us take classes, use cardio equipment, run on the track, visit the weight machines, or join pickup games. Jed North is great for our family because we love a variety of activities and stress test our athletic clothing. Jed North has us all covered so that we feel confident during our gym visits!  For instance, I love that their women's leggings and joggers come in a variety of styles and provide nice compression and coverage. Jed North sports bras are also popular because they have comfortable designs and offer a variety of support levels. They have pretty and functional tops too. The Back Twist Muscle Tee Tank Top is my favorite! You also won't want to miss their Wanderlust Headband. My husband and tween love the men's shorts and joggers because they are comfortable and stylish.  Both are perfect for running and activities around the gym!  Visit Jed North for your family's athletic clothing here

CeraVe is our family's go-to skincare brand.  You may be surprised that despite our age and skin type differences, that my entire family uses this brand.  My dermatologist initially recommended this brand to us when I was struggling with my skin. We've been hooked ever since. Their gentle, yet effective formulas help my family to glow!

My tween is in a phase where his skin is starting to break out. The CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser does just the trick to fight acne without being too harsh. This formula not only dissolves dirt and excess oil while clearing acne with 4% benzoyl peroxide, but it also features hyaluronic acid to help retain skin's natural moisture and niacinamide to provide soothing benefits while skin heals. When I was a teen, I remember being impatient with acne and using overly harsh products that often made things worse. I'm glad that my son has the  CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser to treat his acne with a more gentle and less irritating approach. In addition to this foaming cream cleanser, he also needs a good moisturizer. He uses the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion before bed. He is picky and doesn't like residue from moisturizers.  This moisturizing lotion is perfect because it moisturizes well and feels lightweight!

My husband and I also use CeraVe products. Our morning and evening routines begin with the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. This gentle face wash is a lifesaver for my dry skin and also works well on my husband's combination skin. It's fragrance free, contains niacinamide to help calm skin, and contains hyaluronic acid to help retain skin's natural moisture.  The CeraVe Skin Renewing line is also part of our daily routine. This line is seriously amazing for our 40-something year old skin. My skin is extremely dry. I have fine lines on my forehead and around my eyes. My husband has combination skin with similar signs of aging. The Cerave Skin Renewing Day Cream and Night Cream products are amazing. These moisturizers not only help to provide intense hydration, but do so using hyaluronic acid to help maintain natural moisture. They also help to improve the appearance of tired skin which is incredibly important in our 40's.  These moisturizers have been part of our routine for years now.  While the CeraVe Skin Renewing Line is part of our typical routine, we switch things up when our skin breaks out due to environmental changes and other factors. We use the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser which works well to quickly clear our breakouts. This gentle  salicylic acid cleanser helps to exfoliate and smooth skin by removing oil, dirt, and dead cells while also softening rough skin. It's a very nice formula! We also switch to the CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion when we are surprised with breakouts. This gentle moisturizer is exactly what I need at the end of the day when my skin is stressed! it is lightweight and provides overnight hydration for my dry skin.  Visit CeraVe here.

Sweet Maria's has the best green coffee beans! A good cup of coffee is a big part of my morning routine on school days. Luckily, my husband's favorite hobby includes roasting coffee! Sweet Maria's is an iconic brand to coffee connoisseurs who roast their own coffee beans since high quality green coffee beans create amazing results. (Read more about coffee roasting at Sweet Maria's here if you are new to coffee roasting. Spoiler alert- if you learn to roast your own coffee, you'll probably quickly prefer the freshness and your ability to customize the roasts to your preferences!)   

We've featured Sweet Maria's for several years because the green coffee bean sampler is amazing and gives customers something to look forward to on busy mornings. My husband has found many of his favorite green coffee beans through their samplers. Sweet Maria's conducts multiple trips each year to connect with leaders of coops and to make deals for the best batches. They do an amazing job and we look forward to their best finds! My husband loves to roast green coffee beans for himself and others. Throughout the school year, he roasts coffee beans for our son's teachers.  This is always a popular surprise. Some teachers even share their preferences and special requests. Some prefer freshly roasted coffee beans while others prefer for us to make lattes or other drinks that we send in with our children in the mornings. It's a fun hobby personally, but also a unique gift to let teachers know that they are appreciated.  Click here to visit Sweet Marias.

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FluffCo helps your family members to get a good night of sleep with their luxurious 5-star hotel pillows that provide a premium sleeping experience at home. A good night of sleep makes a big difference, especially on busy school nights. 

FluffCo helps us to melt into bed at the end of the day so that we are have better mental, physical, and emotional health. Their pillows are incredibly soft and comfortable. As a bonus, my husband is vegan and these pillows are vegan-friendly! Click here to visit FluffCo.

KC Cubs offers educational rugs with fun and whimsical designs that encourage learning. For instance, my preschooler is learning to read and loves playing games on the Animal Alphabet Rug. It's fun to practice letter recognition with this rug by telling him to jump on specific squares. We also play games to sound out the letters.  This rug in next to his bed, so he falls asleep looking at his alphabet rug which reinforces learning! Visit KC Cubs here.

Planet Buddies is an environmentally conscious child-friendly electronics brand, with a product range that includes Bluetooth and wired headphones, Bluetooth wireless speakers, tablet cushions, and more. My son loves their bluetooth wireless headphones that have a builtin microphone and volume limiting feature. He is picky when it comes to things like headphones because he doesn't like loud noises or tight fitting headphones. These headphones work for him because they are very comfortable with generous padding. They are good quality with clear sound. Of course, he loves the bright colors and whimsical animals on the headphones. They make it more fun for him to experience many of the great education apps out there.  We recommend ordering a pair for home and one for school. 

Planet Buddies headphones are the way to go for little ones for the reasons that I mentioned above, but there is more to love about this brand.  Each Planet Buddies product comes as a character that represents an endangered animal to help raise awareness and educate children - each has a story about its character, why they are endangered, and practical tips on what children can do to help protect all life on our planet. A portion of the revenue from each product purchase goes to World Land Trust and the Marine Conservation Society.  Headsets come in a variety of animals and start at $19.99.  BestBuy.com, samsclub.com, amazon.com and QVC.com.

Osmo offers expertly created educational games that combine technology and hands-on interactions. My oldest son used Osmo when he was in elementary school and absolutely loved it!  We had it at home, but then the PTO bought Osmo kits for the school, so he had a lot of exposure to Osmo.  It was a big part of his childhood!  We weren't surprised that Osmo's new Math Wizard series rocked my youngest son's world!  We tried two games from this self-paced learning line - Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships and Math Wizard and the Enchanted World Games

Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships is part of Osmo’s new award-winning Math Wizard series that allows for fun, self-paced learning at home, Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships (available for iPad and Fire), focuses on mathematical thinking, where kids join Rupert the robot mouse in building and designing airships for the many islands of Spellbarrow Port. Using math and Rupert’s magical wrench, kids deliver packages, balance objects so they can fly, and navigate challenges like thunderstorms and high winds. The box features two games and contains: 1 Magical Board; 16 Ship Pieces; 16 Cargo Pieces; 12 Balloon Pieces. For ages 6-8 years or Grades 1-2. Check out a video fo it here. The retail price is $59.99.

Math Wizard and the Enchanted World Games is part of Osmo’s new award-winning Math Wizard series that allows for fun, self-paced learning at home, Math Wizard and the Amazing Airships (available for iPad and Fire), focuses on mathematical thinking, where kids join Rupert the robot mouse in building and designing airships for the many islands of Spellbarrow Port. Using math and Rupert’s magical wrench, kids deliver packages, balance objects so they can fly, and navigate challenges like thunderstorms and high winds. The box features two games and contains: 1 Magical Board; 16 Ship Pieces; 16 Cargo Pieces; 12 Balloon Pieces. For ages 6-8 years or Grades 1-2. Check out a video of it here. The retail price is $59.99.

Both of these games gave him the opportunity to practice hands-on problem solving which is more advanced than memorization. He wants to learn more and sees the value of the knowledge thanks to hands-on exercises and immediate feedback.  It's fun to watch him learn at a rapid pace! We love using Osmo at home because he views it as playing fun games while we know that Osmo is helping to reinforce the math concepts that he learned at school. Visit Osmo here.

Educational Products Inc. (EPI) has you covered when it comes to school supplies. The days of running to different stores to track down school supplies are over.  EPI has solved this problem by curating school supply packs for specific schools! The way that it works is that you visit the EPI website here, enter your zip code, select your child's school, and select your child's grade.  They show you the list of supplies for the respective school/grade. You then add the package to your shopping cart and checkout.  It's so easy and convenient to order their school supplies this way!  In the past, there have always been one or two items on the list that were unicorns and required me to visit multiple schools in order to track them down. The school supply experts EPI have you covered.  Their extensive database covers thousands of schools. Visit EPI here.

Urbanista has you covered when it comes to headphones for tweens, teens, and even adults! This brand originated from Stockhold, Sweden and has been popular for more than a decade. This brand strives to enable those who live a life in motion to experience quality style and sound without compromise. One of their most popular products includes my son's favorite wireless headphones - the Urbanista Miami Wireless Headphones! These wireless over-ear headphones offer up to 50 hours of playtime. The Active Noise Cancelling is great for blocking out surrounding sounds for an enjoyable experience. Miami headphones come in four Miami-inspired colors. My son loves being in his own world with these headphones when he works on homework and more.  Visit Urbanista here.

SprezzaBox is a fun subscription box for the school year. You may have heard about this professionally curated box in GQ, Esquire, Forbes, or other venues.  My husband and son love this subscription!  They offer several different boxes to choose from each month. Each box is generously packed with products that follow different themes. For instance, my husband and son love the kits that include a tie, pocket square, socks, and more. However we switched things up this month and chose a taco themed box! Since the new school year is here, we thought that it would be fun to have trendy supplies for family taco nights. This is the ultimate box for Texans!  Visit SprezzaBox here.

GoGo squeeZ recently released delicious plant based pudding pouches! These delicious almond blend puddings are dairy-free (made with almonds) and feature 5 grams of protein. The pudding has 30% less sugar compared to traditional dairy pudding. They come in four flavors: chocolate, vanilla, cocoa-hazelnut, and banana. Our reaction to trying these delicious treats was -- Why weren't these invented sooner?! They are truly delicious! We love them for snack time and lunches. They don't require refrigeration, so they are easy to toss into lunchboxes. You'll find these nationwide at Target, Walmart, and many grocery stores. Use the store locator here.

SKG's F5 massage gun is perfect for relaxation during the hectic school year. The SKG F5 massage gun is easy to use anytime and anywhere to provide relief for aches and pains. In addition to the nice massage gun functionality, we love that it has a 3 setting heating mechanism that is built in the bottom of the gun's handle to help loosen muscles. It's perfect for post-workouts. It weighs just 300g, so it's easy to carry in a gym bag. Who doesn't love a quick massage after a good workout? Visit SKG here.

No Fade Fresh is a revolutionary brand that you've probably seen at professional salons, Amazon, CVS, Target,HEB, and other stores. They offer the "1st Clean Hair Color" and DIY products on the market!  After you try their products, you will wonder why no one invented them sooner.  The products provide fabulous results without using "dirty dyes".  All of the products contain a bond rebuilder to heal hair, are 100% vegan, cruelty free, and can be applied in the shower in 2-5 minutes. They are semi-permanent dyes, so there is no long-term commitment, but the products keep your hair looking ‘salon fresh.’  Personally, I love clean products, but only if they provide high quality results. No Fade Fresh checks both boxes! I love that this brand helps my hair to look pretty without dirty ingredients. I noticed that when I used No Fade Fresh products on my blonde highlights, my hair soaked up the formula for a vibrant look.  I later colored my hair brown for fall and then used the No Fade Fresh products for brown hair to reinforce the rich color.  I'm in love with their products! This plant-based color depositing line of products is available online and at stores nationwide for a retail price of $14.99/each. Use the No Fade Fresh store locator here.

Xlear helps our family with our seasonal allergies throughout the year. We run multiple air purifiers in our home, use fragrance-free products, and keep our home clean in order to minimize allergens. Still, we suffer with allergy symptoms. Xlear kid’s nasal spray is a natural xylitol-based sinus care product that helps flush out harmful toxins and bacteria from the nasal cavity. Xlear is also recommended by medical professionals for treating allergies and flu symptoms – perfect to help kids prevent a cold before it starts during the school year. Our kids both love Xlear kid's nasal spray. My husband and I use the Xlear Sinus Rinse with Xylitol and Saline Solution for rinsing our sinuses in the morning and evening. 

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