Category Archives: Back to School

Best Conferences for College Football Tailgating [Infographic]

Tailgating Infographic HeaderThink you grill the meanest burger, show the most school spirit, or take part in the craziest college football tailgating traditions? Check out The Top Tailgating Conferences in College Football infographic to see how you and your school compare. Whether it’s incorporating regional tailgate food ideas like jambalaya from the SEC, cowboy boots from The Big 12, or custom cups from the ACC, the next game is sure to be a party with these college tailgating tips and ideas.

You can’t have a tailgate without custom swag, and the team at National Pen has you covered! We have all the college tailgate necessities — including coolers, personalized Koozies, chairs and more. So get your game-day gear and announce to the world that your school has the most die-hard fans.

College Football Tailgating Infographic

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How to Apply a Back-to-School Attitude to Work

No matter how long you’ve been out of school, there’s always that feeling of brand new come September. It’s the season of change and fresh starts that remind us of school days past. Turns out a new school year can benefit everyone, especially if you carry a back-to-school attitude with you to the workplace.

Playful Coworkers Fist Bumping

Not only can it serve as the boost of inspiration your team needs, but having a more playful approach to some of your monthly to-dos, and more work activities can serve well for your productivity levels, positive mentality, and creativity. Studies have proven that employee satisfaction leads to spikes in productivity, in some cases, as much as 12% or more.

In the days leading up to the first day of school, think about how you can take what you’ve learned during your long-gone school days and incorporate the same feeling into your work life. Here’s how to make a more seamless transition into the next season of the year, with more play at work as a stress reduction.

Shop for New “School” Clothes

As kids, shopping for new school clothes seemed like tradition for many households. Whether needed or not, it always felt nice to head back to school with a new wardrobe and looking fresh.

As adults, the same kind of mentality can apply. While the summer may have encouraged a more relaxed type of look, head into fall looking like you mean business and see how it changes your mentality. It doesn’t have to translate to full-on suits (unless your occupation is part of a corporate environment), but looking polished will give you an extra boost of confidence as you head out into your day. Take advantage of back-to-school sales and give your wardrobe the refresh it may need by adding some work essentials to your closet.

Set Reading Goals

Pizza Hut’s Book It! Challenge was a craze in the 80s, encouraging grade school kids nationwide to read more. More reading meant more pizza and what kid can pass that up? Setting goals is part of what makes a school year productive, but setting rewards is what makes us feel like kids again. While pizza might not be the biggest motivating factor (or for some, maybe it still is!), book clubs or traveling to places you read about are adult-friendly goals that help add some play at work and fun to the “task” of reading.

Encourage a friendly competition within the office. Make it voluntary to sign up for a set company goal of number of books to read by a certain date. Then, celebrate accomplishments with a team lunch or happy hour. Consider the idea of a department book club that meets monthly or bi-monthly to discuss a work- or business-related book. This type of learning makes people more engaged with critical thinking of how it can be applied to your business.

“Play-Storm” Vs. Brainstorm

Brainstorming can be difficult when you’re not feeling the creative spark. How can you change the process to get more people involved and collaborate? Incorporate some color, mini-activities, and even music into the brainstorming session. For example, hand out a different color set of sticky notes to your team members and set a timer for five minutes. During that time, everyone writes down their ideas, one per sticky note, without editing. Once everyone is finished, review everyone’s notes and group into different categories. This will help you start to put together the shell of a project. This method is also helpful because it could spark ideas from others presented during the exercise.

Coworkers Brainstorming Around Table

Have In-Office, Friendly Competitions

Friendly competition in school has always been encouraged as a way of bonding and team building. Why not incorporate some of this friendly competition in your workplace to spark interaction between different teams or departments? Remember the “Office Olympics” episode from The Office TV show? It was a fun way to get the group together to participate in different events. Consider organizing something similar for your company to break up the routine for a minute and have some work play fun. Maybe host a competitive event at the end of the year and allow employees to invite their families for a carnival-type affair with separate stations for food and games. Not only would this encourage participation in the event but also help increase employee satisfaction in the workplace.

To disperse responsibility, encourage each team to come up with their own station, which could include ideas like:

  • Ping-pong
  • Target shooting with a bow and arrow
  • Pin the tail on the donkey
  • Putt-putt
  • Water balloon catch

Award prizes for the most creative and host a BBQ or picnic following the awards ceremony.

Gift a Welcome Basket for New Employees

Starting a new job can feel a lot like the first day of school, intimidating yet exciting, scary yet fun, overwhelming yet great to be learning new things. As a new employee, there may be mixed feelings such as these especially when it comes to meeting new coworkers and getting used to the policies and projects everyone else is already familiar with. As part of the onboarding process, include supplies with your branding that can help ease their concerns and prove helpful to your new hire. A gift basket could include:

Include anything that will make a new employee feel welcome and assist them with day-to-day directions. Also include business cards, marketing collateral, and a list of favorite nearby places for lunch to help them get started on the right foot. Not only is this a nice gesture for welcoming your new employees, but a great way to help with stress reduction and their first day jitters.

Encourage Team Lunches

When work schedules get busy, people tend to sit at their desks and work through the lunch hour rather than taking a proper break. This can lead to burnout and decrease in productivity since longer hours don’t always equal better performance. A good way to improve employee morale is to encourage team lunches. Don’t you remember how fun recess and lunch time was in school? Some would even say it was their favorite part of the day! At work, lunch should also be just as great. Whether that means company paid lunches in or out of the office, or scheduling a weekly or monthly lunch hour for the team to get away from their desks and go outside or meet in the breakroom, it can help employees take a much-needed break.

Make your work environment one that encourages an actual lunch break rather than only having a physical breakroom that no one ever uses. Again, this may be especially applicable to new employees who think the office norm is to work through lunch and may feel discouraged from using their lunch hour to eat.

Table with Food for Group Meal

Schedule a “Back-to-School” Picnic

To build on the idea of team lunches, a back-to-school picnic or ice cream social is a great way to introduce new team members, announce promotions, and allow employees to get to know each other better outside of the office. If you remember back in school, back-to-school get togethers usually happened a week in advance, giving you the chance to meet new teachers or see friends that had been gone all summer.

It’s a tradition that can help employees feel refreshed and get back into a better rhythm, especially following months where many people were probably out on vacation. You can use it as a kick-off to a new quarter or to celebrate a company milestone. The focus on the group over the individual helps further illustrate the importance of teamwork and camaraderie among co-workers. Keep things simple by hosting the picnic potluck-style and the company provides the main dish and drinks. Few things bring people together faster as a group than food. Food is an easy (and delicious!) way to incorporate play at work and maintain employee satisfaction.

Thinking about our old school days can make us feel nostalgic for simpler times with less responsibilities, but even if our task lists have increased, it doesn’t mean the feeling of play has to die out. Our work lives are what we make it and by incorporating a back-to-school attitude that focuses on fun as much as it does getting things done will improve mental energy and lead to greater productivity overall.

Back to School Checklist: School Supplies for Success

Doesn’t it seem like summer just started and now there’s already buzz about heading back to school? As much as we would like to prolong days spent by the pool, at the beach, or chillin’ in the A/C, we can’t ignore the fact it’ll soon be time to head back to school.

Back to School Note with School Supplies on DeskRather than waiting until the last minute to make sure you’ve properly prepared your classrooms and extracurricular organizations, why not make this year’s back to school shopping a breeze by BYOB, a.k.a. building your own bundle? Whether you’re a teacher preparing your students for all the supplies they will need for a successful school year, resident advisors prepping incoming college freshmen for their first year at university, or a group leader who wants to make sure your kids have what they need to make it through the school year, get started on your back to school checklist today. We’ll guide you through how to build your own bundle as part of our Back to School campaign.

School Kits for Elementary Teachers

Teachers get called into action well before students step foot in the school halls to prepare the classroom and teaching plan for the year ahead. One way to welcome students to a new year is by surprising them with a box full of goodies and essential education supplies that they can use all year long. They’ll come armed with the basics: backpack, notebooks, and pencils, but why not include a few fun items as well? Set the tone for the school year by stocking up on a few supplies to get your students excited.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Drawstring Bag

    This lightweight, over-the-shoulders bag will help keep all their new supplies in one place. Students can leave them at their desk or take them home to tote what they need throughout the school year.

  • Personalized Pens

    Customize pens with your school’s mascot name, a classroom nickname, or an inspirational quote to start their year off right.

  • Water bottle

    Avoid trips to the water fountain during class by giving your students their own water bottle to use and keep. With options starting at under a $1 per bottle, back to school shopping doesn’t have to be costly to keep your kids hydrated throughout the school year and avoid unnecessary interruptions.

Elementary School Teacher Teaching at Front of Class

Classroom Organization Kits for School Administrators

As an educator, there’s plenty to haul to and from the classroom every day, including laptops, notebooks, lesson plans, and the list goes on and on. One way to help your teachers feel less overwhelmed and more organized is to arm them with the right school supplies to start the year off on the right foot.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Canvas Tote

    You need a bag that’s sturdy and can stand up to the weight of what you’ll be carrying to and from school on a day to day basis. Personalize yours with school colors, the school year, or anything else that makes it easily identifiable to make it less likely to be accidentally picked up by someone else.

  • Lunch Bag

    Unless scheduled for cafeteria duty, it’s not uncommon for high school teachers to miss their opportunity to eat lunch. Avoid the risk of having to grab fast food or snack on stale leftover treats that might be lying around the teachers’ lounge, and pack a homemade lunch plus a few snacks to get you through the long school days.

  • School Planner

    Teachers live by their planners to keep track of upcoming assignments, tests, to-do tasks, and more. Rather than planning around the calendar year, teachers typically plan their days around what’s going on at school to avoid conflicts with holidays, in-service days, parent-teacher conferences, and all the other dates that can affect a classroom schedule.

College Freshmen Welcome Kits for Resident Advisors

Staple items every college kid needs include: quarters for the washer/dryer, storage bins for clothing and shoes, and plenty of snacks to keep stashed away in a dorm room. But in order to survive the day-to-day of classroom life, there are additional, practical back to school items to help make it easier to adapt to the first year at college. As a dorm floor resident advisor or sorority/fraternity house mom, giving your students a head start as they enter college life will help make the transition that much easier.

What’s in the bundle:

  • USB Flash Drive

    These are a must! Students will want the extra security of a backup location for important files and assignments. Help students with the scary and probable situation of coffee spills on their precious laptops causing their files to get lost or becoming corrupt by providing an alternative secure location for their files.

  • Planner

    One of the biggest adjustments to college life is time management. College is a hectic schedule of classes, extracurricular actives, volunteering opportunities, educational internships and social events that will surely test a student’s time management skills. Planners are an essential item to encourage better organization and help a first year student get acquainted with the college life.

  • Customized Mug

    If there’s one thing that helps a college student get through early morning classes and late nights spent studying, it’s coffee. By personalizing the mug, it can also serve as extra motivation to get through the long days (and nights) college life can bring.

College Freshman Student Ready with School Supplies

Supplies for School Club Leaders

Get your school group organized by creating a back to school checklist for items you anticipate needed for the year. Whether you need to gather equipment for your sports team, theatre group, marching band, or other extracurricular organizations, make sure you have the supplies you need on hand at all times. These are items to be used throughout the school year to instill a sense of camaraderie among your group and identity when you travel for competitions or events.

What’s in the bundle:

  • Backpacks

    Customized bags emblazoned with the school logo or student group can be used season after season, if used with care. Use the backpacks for trips to competitions, games, and other offsite events where students need to pack uniforms, props, and other items necessary to their role in the group.

  • Selfie Stick

    Every school group should have a selfie stick to capture moments perfect for school yearbooks, social media pages, and student newsletters. Make sure to brand it with the school’s logo and/or contact information, and take it on school functions or use it when preparing for the next sporting event or production.

  • T-shirts

    Show your club’s spirit by sporting crisp new t-shirts with your tagline, organization name, or at the very least, your school’s mascot. It will help create a sense of solidarity and inclusiveness among the group, while also making your team stand out at the next event.

School supply starter kits are great to kick off a new school year. Not only does it help you prepare for the months ahead with a detailed list of school supplies, but it’s also a fun way to get excited about heading back to school and seeing your beautiful students.  Whether you’re a resident advisor preparing for a new dormitory floor of incoming freshmen, a student organization leader, or an instructor who wants to make things fresh and exciting for your students, building your own bundle of school essentials will surely help as you prepare to go back to school.

Make a great impression by getting your back to school basics today.