Make the 2021 back-to-school season special with heartfelt gifts

What is a good Back to School Gift in 2021?

As we continue to recover from Covid-19 and many children start this school year in-person, parents and caregivers are wondering how to make this year special for their kids.

Make this Back to School season special by giving your children fancy versions of everyday school items or gifts that can help them develop relationships, independence, and hobbies. Fancy school items includes personalized bags, lunchboxes, and stationery. They can reconnect with friends they have been separated from for much of the past year by playing a variety of games and activities.

Preschool and Elementary School

Children’s early years in school are a time of constant growth and transformation. It is a big shift from daycare as you witness children’s skills, independence, and sense of self grow tremendously. Supporting this growth are the routines and traditions that you put in place or that grow organically through your family bond. This understanding of their changing world can give you insight into what gifts can have an impact on your child’s Back to School experience.

Connection and independence

While independence and connection seem at odds with each other, children feel most confident testing their independence when they feel a secure foundation in their closest bonds. Simple gifts that remind a child of their loved ones can be a great comfort as they begin a new year and can sometimes help with separation anxiety. It can be as simple as a special photograph of the family or an object from home that reminds them of you.

Solid Routines

Routine is important for young children. It supports stability and predictability in a world that is mostly out of their control.  When beginning a new school year, it is helpful to establish routines that include preparing for school and returning from school. Many people assume routine has to be stifling. However, it can be as engaging and creative as you like. It can also include time to relax and play. Consider building in routines that your child can look forward to that are intertwined with other things that are necessary for going to school or returning home.

Celebrate their skills and self-expression

Children are proud of their expanding skills, both those related to practical life and to self-expression.

Preschool and Kindergarteners are mastering is eating efficiently on their own. It’s one thing when they’re at home and a grownup is available if they need help and it’s another thing if they are one of 17 (or more!) who may need help. This personalized cutlery (from Etsy) is a practical gift that recognizes the importance of eating independently at school.

If your young child is showing particular interest in pre-reading or math activities, they might appreciate a gift that reflects that interest. For example, if they enjoy reading skills, you can get them these reading blocks (from Etsy). 

For children who are in the early stages of reading, they might appreciate a gift like this Read, Build, and Write board (from Etsy), which can be a way to celebrate and acknowledge their academic improvements. You can enhance the experience by using it with them the first few times. That way, they will associate the gift with spending time with you. 

Much of children’s self-expression comes through their play and artwork. Sometimes their artwork is even a sort of play and storytelling.  Encourage their artwork with gifts like Name Crayons (from Amazon) or an art display rack (from Etsy).


Most of a child’s world is filled with things they must share or ask permission to use so they appreciate it when they receive a gift that is specifically theirs.  A new backpack for Back to School is great, but a personalized backpack and lunchbox combo (from Etsy) is even better!  Whether they like it or not, young children have nap time, why not give them a personalized nap mat like this one (from Etsy) to make the experience a little more special?

Elementary School children are more capable of keeping track of their own school tools and often appreciate having their own set of personalized pencils (from Etsy).  A personalized bookmark like this (from Etsy) can celebrate their love of books and a personalized water bottle (from Etsy) can keep them hydrated throughout the day.  If you’re not sure what to label or want to leave it up to your child, you can even give them a personalized label set (from Etsy).

Middle and High School

Social interactions take a more central role in the lives of adolescent students. Returning back to school means reconnecting with schoolmates, where there are changing dynamics between friends and changing friendships.

Daily Items

Even though they have more ownership over their materials, older children still appreciate personalized daily items such as these personalized name decals (from Amazon), personalized stationery (from Etsy), or this personalized keychain (from Amazon).   Depending on their phone and accessories, you could give them this personalized AirPod case (from Amazon) or this personalized iPhone case (from Etsy).

Feel-Good Items

If your child could use some relaxation time during the school year, lavender therapy dough (from Etsy) could be a great start toward making this new school year feel more manageable.  If you’d like to go the route of symbolically starting the year with good luck, you can give them a genuine four-leaf clover (from Etsy).

Connection to Peers

If your child forms very close bonds with a small group of peers, whether they are teammates, part of an official club, or just a close-knit informal group, you might consider buying them simple accessories that affirms that friendship.  For example, you could buy a set of matching necklaces (from Etsy) or a set of matching rings (from Amazon). Because of changing friendship dynamics, when buying a gift like this, you should first confirm which friends to include. You may decide to present the gift as a purchase you are about to make and let your child decide in the moment before you finish the transaction or you could take a chance and buy it after using your subtle interrogation techniques to uncover the necessary information.


Older children partly express their individuality through their interests and hobbies. Giving them a personalized gift connected to their hobby can help them start the year on a positive and hopeful note. For example, if your child is into dance, this personalized dance bag (from Etsy) could be a perfect gift. Or, if they are into soccer, you could give them this personalized soccer ball (from Etsy).

If your child is more introverted or enjoys expressing themselves through words or drawing, they might appreciate this personalized journal (from Amazon).

We hope these ideas help you directly or give you ideas for how to make your child’s Back to School experience as enjoyable as possible as we all continue together on this journey back toward normalcy after Covid-19 and Social Distancing. If you are looking for ideas for other gifts, please visit our blog or main website at Thank you!