How to decorate your kid’s locker CHEAPLY and still make it look badass

So every year I arrive at school for “meet the teacher” and it’s the same thing. A ton of moms show up with their giant Container Store bags full of fancy shit to decorate their daughter’s lockers. And this year was no different. I watched multiple moms deck out their kids’ lockers with wallpapercarpeting, mirrors, twinkle lights, fancy magnets, white boards, magnetic pencil holders, chandeliers (that actually light up!!), etc etc etc etc. I mean come onnnnn, seriously, people??!! It’s the second grade!!!

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This is actually one of the tamer ones.

Last year I was like, “Zoey, if you want to decorate your locker, go for it.” So she created her own kickass chandelier out of pipe cleaners.


My chandelier is bigger than your chandelier. And takes up my whole entire locker.

But this year she’s older and wanted the REAL thing. So I splurged and surprised her with something. One $16 item. It’s fancy, it lights up and as soon as I pulled it out of my purse and gave it to her, she was sooo excited and grateful.


… until another girl ran up and bragged that she had the same one, PLUS a LOT of other stuff that Zoey didn’t have. Zoey took one look at the other girl’s locker and her face fell.

ZOEY: Lucky duck.

OMG, how I wanted to yell at the other girl and tell her to stop bragging. Because A. Zoey was damn proud of her chandelier. And B. guess what a lot of the other kids had? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Because there’s no memo that goes out to warn the other moms that there is going to be a big impromptu locker decorating competition. And even if there was, some moms don’t have time for this kind of shit.

I mentioned it to one of my friends whose kid goes to a different school and she told me that her school actually banned locker decorating because it had gotten so out of hand. Part of me thought that was a great idea, but another part of me was like ahhhh yes, one more way we’re turning our kids into wussies. I mean when I see someone pull up in the carpool line in a fancy car I don’t whine, “Wahhhh, it’s not fair, I want a Tesla too!! We need to ban them!” Seeing other people have shit that you don’t have is actually a huge part of life.

Anyways, after the girl rubbed her fancy locker in Zoey’s face, Zoey asked me if she could put more stuff in her own locker to decorate it, and you might be surprised by what I said.

ME: If YOU want to decorate it, Zoey, go for it.

And then she asked if she could buy some decorations with her own money.

ME: Do you mean can you earn some money and then choose to spend it on something that’s important to you? F yeah!! That, kiddo, is what they call learning how to be a hard-working human being.

Because this whole locker decorating fuckstravaganza is actually an AWESOME opportunity for parents to teach their kids an important lesson. There’s always gonna be someone who has more than you. Some of them earn it, and some of them are given it on a silver platter. Some of them are nice about it, and some of them are a-holes. All that matters is how you act when you see someone with more shit than you.

Do you make a pouty face and say no fair and stomp away (Zoey’s first reaction)? Or do you say, “I’m gonna work my tush off so I can earn that shit too” (Zoey’s reaction after I glared at her and said I can easily take that chandelier back to the store)?

So Zoey opened up her wallet that night and we went to the Dollar Tree, where she bought a $1 white board and a $1 shower caddy to hang on the locker hook, and then she loaded it up with alllll sorts of decorations (aka crap) from home. Plus, a bunch of old magnets from our fridge and Lego posters she stole from her bedroom walls.

I was sooooo F’ing proud of her. Not proud of her locker. Proud of HER.

So on Parent night when she wasn’t with me, I surprised her with a little practical joke. I bought magnetic sheets of printer paper for like $10 (did you know they make this now?!!!!), and I did a google image search for “funny animals” and I printed out a shitload of hilarious magnets to add to her locker.


When she opened it up at school the next morning, SURPRISE!!! She thought it was hilarious. Well, except for the one magnet with a picture of a naked gecko. I’m like what do you mean he’s naked? He’s a lizard. Of course he’s not wearing clothes. But whatever, throw that one out if you don’t like it. I just want you to be happy.

If you liked this, please don’t forget to like and share it!!

And don’t forget to check out my new book I Want My Epidural Back!! It is HIGH-larious. At least my mom says it is. And so do over 200 other people on Amazon. And I didn’t even pay them to.



There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Wendy at 9:29 am

    Thank you for the heads up on the magnetic printer paper! My daughter’s locker is as naked as the day she was born. Or whatever. You know what I mean.

  2. stomperdad at 9:41 am

    Why is this no surprise. Locker battles? Really? Whatever happened to “my kid is on the honor roll”? Some people just have to think they’re better than others because they have nicer s#!%. My beater got me to school just as well as your Cadillac (once I got it to start). Love your approach to the locker. “You want it decorated, give ‘er.” My son has ask if various things can be done and I tell to go right ahead if wants to. Then he doesn’t do it because he was expecting me do it for him. HA! It’s how I find out how serious he is about wanting it done. If he wants it bad enough, he’ll do it himself.

  3. Cheryl S. at 9:41 am

    I LOVE this post! So many great lessons…not just for your girl, but the world at large! We only have one school in our entire district that even has lockers (they were banned for some idiotic reason), and the school with lockers has tiny ones. At least that’s one bright side to no lockers, though I’m not sure it will matter much when all the kids carrying 45 pound backpacks turn into adults with back problems. I want a Tesla!!!

  4. Anonomous at 9:58 am

    Nice job Mom! And nice job Zoey. It was a great lesson learned overall. I completely agree that you can just ban things because you are jealous or other kids are a-holes! This made me smile. And honestly I thought when I started reading she was in middle school! My 2nd grader doesn’t have a locker, thankfully. Nice job Mom!!

  5. Heather at 10:13 am

    This is ridiculous! Over the f*****g top insane! Who the, what the what moronic stay at home over achieving mother started this bullshit!?! Just one more f*****g way to fail at parenting and not keeping up with the don’t have a life Jones’! I can’t fathom, I just can’t. Please ladies get a life of your own.

    • Dawn at 1:13 pm

      I agree 100%! You’re great for saying what you said!

  6. Julie at 11:19 am

    I live in small town Ontario Canada, We do not have Lockers at our kids just a hook to hang a backpack and a coat!! THANK GOODNESS that kind of s**t drives me batty!! I am so over the Keeping up bull!!

  7. Jackie Benson at 11:44 am

    I didn’t even know you GET lockers in elementary school. My first locker was high school and it was the size of a shoe box. It stank. I spent the least amount of time possible in it. Times have changed. Great idea with the magnets! My little ones are still preschool and under so I’m learning such valuable tips here. 🙂

  8. Saige at 2:41 pm

    We didn’t get lockers till we hit Junior High. We had cubbies in elementary school, or desks with space for our books and supplies. It was the same way for my kids while they were still in school. I/we liked it that way. Getting lockers in Jr. High was like a rite of passage to the Big Kid World. There was a list of items banned in the lockers as far as decorating went. Outside that list anything was fair game so there was some room for creativity and imagination. So glad I don’t have to worry about this problem anymore. Sounds like you handled it well though Mom!!

  9. Debra Morgan at 10:21 pm

    Our elementary school doesn’t have lockers. They have a long shelf with coat hooks outside every classroom. Kids don’t see a locker until they hit 7th grade when they move up to the Jr/Sr high school. But even at that level, you have “decoration wars”. The only decoration I ever had in mine was a magnetic mirror. Many others had shelves, mirrors, pictures, white boards, etc. I bought the mirror that I had and I only had it my senior year because we couldn’t afford it before. I worked my a*s off over that summer for a food vendor at our local town fair. I used most of that money to pay for everything I needed for graduation (cap & gown, announcements, pics, yearbook). My mother couldn’t afford it so I worked for it.

  10. Angela at 7:20 pm

    Much easier with boys! I just found out my My son has a locker in Law School.. I would kill to get in there & decorate the crap out if that! Pretty sure he would be banned from ever taking the Bar !

  11. Michelle Pauling at 1:14 pm

    Angela – hahahaha hilarious!! 😀

    Heather – as a SAHM AND an overeducated overachiever (and proud of it), I did take a little offense – I volunteer at the school a LOT because they can’t afford to pay someone to do all of what I do – I do it for all of the kids, not just mine. Not all SAHMs are frivolous, and not all working moms aren’t. I hope you have a lovely day.

  12. Dakota at 4:43 pm

    No one gonna comment about the little kids making out in a photo in their locker?? they’re like 5 and the parents did the decor….