Etsy Journal

Explore ideas and inspiration for creative living

60 Unexpected (and Extra-Special) Back-to-School Supplies

Help your mini me hit the books in style with supplies they won’t find anywhere else—and snag some goodies for yourself, too.

Reusable waxed canvas back-to-school lunch bags from WAAM Industries
Photo by: WAAM Industries

Sure, ticking off a detailed list of super-specific supplies can make back-to-school shopping feel more like a high-speed scavenger hunt than a quest for inspiration—but there’s no rule against slipping in some special supplies and unique accessories to make your favorite scholar feel extra confident for their first day! Whether they’re heading back into the classroom IRL or reprising their role as a remote learning rockstar, a perky personalized pencil case, snack-tastic lunch bag, or crisp new notebook (with all the stickers they need to make it fully their own!) will help them start the year off on the right foot. 

Shop unique back-to-school supplies

And even if it’s been decades since first-day-of-school butterflies crossed your mind, a good old-fashioned office-supply stock-up might just spark some fresh ideas for that creative project or entrepreneurial dream that’s been gathering dust. To that end, we’ve collected some of our go-to practical (and pretty) tools for motivating minds of all ages. Read on for a hearty dose of A+ inspo.

A smart backpack

Backpacks and more back-to-school supplies on Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left):  Linen backpack from All the Beautiful Linen, $68; handmade crow backpack from Irun Toys, $49; embroidered denim backpack from Muni, $83; vegan canvas backpack from My Orbach, $168; rainbow backpack from Fania, $89; leather backpack from Sweeter Art, from $204

Textbooks or tablets, art supplies or after-school snacks—a good backpack can handle all the necessities with ease. On Etsy, you’ll find options ranging from durable, hand-stitched leather styles to sweet (and lightweight) linen knapsacks embroidered with cute critters.

A pencil case with personality

Pencil cases and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Tie dye pouch from Sea & Stone, $33; kid’s pencil case from Little Writing Company, $7; felt pencil case from Werktat, $37; personalized pencil case from Rocket and Fox, $7; bunny pencil case from Krambeutel, $38; natural leather pencil case from Subconscious Crafts, from $45

An eye-catching pencil case in trendy tie-dye, sturdy felt, or supple leather (complete with bunny ears!) delivers instant inspiration for composing something—anything—by hand.

Lunchtime essentials that won’t get lost in the shuffle

Lunchbox supplies and other back-to-school essentials from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Canvas lunch bag from Olula, $21; reusable snack and sandwich bags from La Fabrik Éco, $75 for a set of 12; multipurpose cutlery and tool roll from The Made & Found, $41; ceramic cup keep from Karo Art, $50; waxed canvas lunch bag from WAAM Industries, $30; reusable beeswax snack pouch set from The Traveling Bee, $24

We can’t promise they’ll never try to swap the contents, but with these distinctive (and reusable) lunch bags made from spill-resistant canvas and snack stashers crafted from beeswax, at least they’ll always bring home the right one.

A charming keychain or lanyard

Keychains, lanyards, and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Leather keyring with child’s drawing from Xx Gallery, $16; periodic table name keychain from Nestled Pines Woodworking, $13; DIY keychain painting kit from Jill Makes, $35; custom beaded name keychain from White Daisy Jewelry, from $10; custom leather ID lanyard from Foytik, $46; tricolor macramé keychain from Entwined Design Co., $13

Keep key cards, house keys, and IDs within arm’s reach on a personalized leather lanyard, a fringed macramé tassel, or a DIY initial keychain painted in your choice of festive hues.

Inspiring notebooks

Inspiring notebooks and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Monogram wood journal from Hereafter, $29; personalized weekly planner from Favorite Story, $24.50; mountain landscape notepad from Small Adventure, $20; Animal Kingdom notebook from Clap Clap, $7; kids gratitude journal from LaLa’s World, $15; personalized leather journal from Forest Nine, from $63

An attractive place to jot down all your most important thoughts (or your most important lecture notes) is a must at any age. Find lined or blank pages, spiral bindings or flat ones, and simple, monogrammed covers or richly patterned designs from paper goods sellers on Etsy.

Arty stickers to set your stuff apart

Stickers and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Cactus sticker from Desert Magic Art, $3.50; bibliophile stickers from Ebonii’s Moon, $5; dinosaur sticker set from Studio Tuesday, $5; cat sticker from Plant and Pattern, $4; unicorn sticker from Patrina’s Paperie, $6; takeout snacks sticker sheet from Sam Makes a Mess, $5.50

The easiest way to customize anything from a phone case to a planner to a dorm fridge (provided it’s not school property)? Unique, artist-designed stickers—particularly the durable, waterproof vinyl styles.

A standout face mask

Face masks and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Kids 3D origami face mask from Pacific Mason, $12; madras plaid face mask from Robot Bunnies, from $23; dino print face mask from Fiapop Shop, $15; set of two linen face masks from Linen Home Shop, $41; toddler animal masks from Muni, $8; animal print mask from Sidney Shanae, $20

From bold animal prints to preppy plaids and everything in between, masks designs on Etsy run the gamut, promising something for everyone—including oodles of adorable, school-friendly styles for the littlest members of your crew. Personally, we’re partial to the dinos.

Writing utensils galore

Pencils, writing utensils, desk supplies, and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Neon pencil set from Newton & The Apple, $9; smile binder clips from Mighty Paper, $5 for a set of five; personalized name crayons from Art 2 The Extreme, form $20; pebble erasers from Mighty Paper, from $6 for a set of 10; inspirational pencil bundle from Graphic Anthology, $10; ceramic fox pen pot from Minky Moo, $53

With neon-bright pencils, marbled erasers, and smiley-face binder clips this cheerful, they’ll actually look forward to homework time. And for the young at heart, why not keep your grownup office supplies in a whimsical pen pot?

Cute pins and patches

Enamel pins, embroidered patches, and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Coffee lover pin from Night Owl Paper Goods, $10; Magic Is Real enamel pin from Bonbi Forest, $12; poppy iron-on patch from Justine Gilbuena, $8; curly hair enamel pin from The Avera Boutique, from $10; roller derby enamel pin from Lolita Picco, $13; palm tree embroidered patch from Oelwein, $6

Whether they’re repping their signature curls, sporty side, or fondness for fantasy, small-but-mighty pins and patches that celebrate the special things that make them them do double duty as portable confidence boosters and super sweet backpack swag.

Plus: A thoughtful teacher gift to say thanks

Teacher appreciation gifts and other back-to-school supplies from Etsy
SHOP (clockwise from top left): You Rule card from Ink Paper Love, $4; rainbow candle from Kindred Fires, from $23; personalized pencil classroom sign from Kate Cole Designs, from $16; teacher appreciation cross stitch pattern PDF from Little Apple Stitchery, $5; personalized teacher pencil case from Moonwake Designs Co., $11; teacher thank you card from Laura Danby, from $5

Who says you need to wait until the end of the school year to show a little love to the all-star educators out there? Score brownie points early with a token of appreciation in the form of a pretty personalized pouch or custom pencil-shaped room sign they’ll hang in a place of pride. 

Discover more back-to-school and classroom supplies on Etsy
Valerie Rains image
Valerie Rains

Valerie Rains is a senior editor at Etsy.

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