Express Yourself

The summer sun is fading away, and it's back-to-school time! Shopping for school supplies doesn't have to be boring for teens. Encourage your teenager to express himself when picking out everything he needs for school.

Trendy School Supplies

Make a day of it

Instead of doing all the shopping yourself, or handing your kid a wad of cash with which to shop alone, make a day of it. Shopping is a great opportunity to spend time with your kids, and it doesn't have to be stressful. Start out by going somewhere for lunch, then head to the stores with your school supply list in hand. Do a little prep work ahead of time by comparing prices online to see which retailers have the best deals.

Splurge vs. steal: School supplies edition >>

When choosing a calculator, it's better to select one that is too advanced rather than not advanced enough. Though it might be a bit more expensive now, you won't have to buy her another calculator next year.

Give your teens some freedom

Hot Pink Graphing Calculator

Sure, the basic scientific calculator might be the best buy. But if your daughter wants the hot pink Texas Instruments graphic calculator ($129.99 from Office Depot at school.com) and it gets the job done, let her go for it. As long as your teen is getting everything on her list, then don't sweat the details.

Express with style & color

When it comes to backpacks, book bags, binders and other supplies, you don't need to stick to basic black or navy blue. Many necessities come in bright colors and fun prints. Allow your teen to express herself by picking out something unique. And after all, it's much easier to find your backpack when it doesn't blend in with everyone else's bag. Hot Topic and Journeys stores have some fun choices.

8 Backpacks for school >>

Incorporate hobbies

Does your daughter sing in a band? When buying notebooks, pick up a journal in which your aspiring songwriter can jot down lyrics. Does your son live for video games? Choose a backpack with a padded compartment for a netbook computer or portable video game player.

Check out the Targus CityGear Notebook Computer Backpack for just $69.99 at Office Depot >>

Don't stress

Encourage your teen to express his individuality, but don't be surprised if you are met with rolling eyes. For many teens, shopping for back-to-school supplies just isn't exciting enough. If you try to make it a fun day out, though, he'll appreciate it. When the school year starts, teens have less and less time to spend with family, so don't waste your shopping day arguing or stressing out about the small stuff. Enjoy yourself, and they will, too.

Surviving last-minute school shopping >>

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