Back-to-school is right around the corner, which means it’s time to stock up on school supplies. In this age of (over)consumption, it’s easy to think everything has to be brand new every year. But there is an alternative.

There are lots of fun ways to breathe new life into stuff you already have. For example, you can find great tricks for adding a personal touch to your child’s school supplies on Etsy. You’ll be reusing items and supporting local artisans at the same time.

Here are just a few ideas of what’s available on Etsy to jazz up and reuse school supplies from years past.

1- Buttons & pins

Small buttons and pins go anywhere! They come in all types and styles to add a little something to a jean jacket, backpack, or lunch bag. They’re perfect for tweaking something old without any damage or permanent alterations!

1- Boutique Velvetmoustache Etsy shop (Montreal)
2- Boutique Girl Central Etsy shop (Toronto)
3- Boutique Crywolf (Toronto)



2- Patches

Like pins, sew-on and iron-on patches are great for adding a personal touch and making something old feel new again. Give a pencil case a fresh look (markers and fabric paint can help, too). You can also use patches to cover up small holes.

1- KodiakMilly (Winnipeg)
2- Tatooit (Montreal)


3- Washi tape

Washi tape comes in an amazing variety of patterns and textures. You’ll find it in many different sizes, and it’s a quick, easy, and low-cost way to personalize multiple items. Try it on notebooks (you know, the ones from last year, with half the pages still blank), binders, and pencils.

1- Boutique CommeLesLoups Etsy shop (Montreal)
2- Boutique TheWashiShopCanada Etsy shop (Vancouver)


4- Stickers

When I was in school, I didn’t have all this great stuff to customize my school supplies, but I did have stickers. There were velvety ones, puffy ones, sparkly ones, and they went everywhere. Today, there’s such a huge variety that kids, teens, and even adult students can all find ways to customize their planners, notebooks, and binders.

1- Boutique TaraJoyAndrews Etsy shop (Nova Scotia)
2- Boutique PaperCraneStickers Etsy shop (Toronto)


5- Printed images and wrapping paper

Think scrapbooking, only instead of cutting up magazines, search the Internet for inspiring images to print out. Some Etsy shops in Canada sell cool wrapping paper you can cut and paste (using Mod Podge) to the covers of notebooks and planners. And why not add a strip of washi tape in the corner to indicate the subject or write your child’s name?

I absolutely adore the wrapping paper designs from Montreal’s MCMarquisDesign! They also have some truly unique buttons.

1- Boutique Etsy MCMarquisDesign Etsy shop (Montreal)
2- Boutique Etsy MCMarquisDesign Etsy shop (Montreal)