Beyond the Essentials: Dorm Edition

My twin siblings are that age- college acceptance time! Woot Woot. They are two years younger than me so I’m super excited that they are finally going to be ‘real’ people.

The byproduct of being the oldest is that you are supposed to know stuff, because you do everything first. I wish i had “You go trailblazer” tattooed on my forehead sometimes! So recently everyone (and I mean EVERYONE, siblings, friends of my siblings, the parents of the friends of my sibling, and the puppy across the street) have asked me the following questions: what should I bring with me to college? and what is a good gift for a kid going to college? 

These are very big vague and unanswerable questions. Instead I made these three guides:

1. Odd things that are kind of awesome to have on hand

  • Party supplies (Balloons, streamers, and colored duct tape)-your new friends will have birthdays and you will be the awesome one who decorated their door. BE THAT PERSON
  • The good hangers– the wire ones just are not going to cut it now that mom isn’t around to hang, re-hang, and pick your stuff off the ground. these are the good ones
  • Speakers: Get the ones that get LOUD. Get the ones that will hook up to your computer, for when you have a movie night and your headphones are not what you are in the mood for
  • Big ceramic mugs– lets be real, a mug is a bowl with a handle, which is perfect for hanging around the dorm, hanging in a friend’s room and multitasking. Use for coffee, soup, easy mac, ramen, cereal, and anything else you can think of, I’ve even done celery and peanut butter in a mug. (HINT: A great bonding activity before your kid leaves is to go to one of those ceramic painting places and make your own mugs!)
  • Twinkle lights– they are just fun, and if your kid is part of a fandom they have themed ones that will show of their interests and personalities (For example, if someone loved me this is what they would get–> Doctor Who String Lights  😛 )
  • Air fresheners The gel beads that absorb air odors-they come in great variety and they do make a difference.  (these can be expensive if you go with fancy brand names, but the ones at Target work great too!)
  • NICE pillowcases First of all buy several sets. It’s easy to wash pillow cases and to throw a clean set on so it’s not a hassle and trust me your kid is not going to change their sheets more than once a semester but pillow cases are easy.
  • Laundry bag AND basket– I use the bag to line the basket which keeps everything in one place and makes doing laundry super easy. In addition the extra cheap laundry bags are awesome to have around to throw wet towels in(mesh bags preferred), pack for a weekend away, use as a mat for wet rain and snow boots, ect; !
  • A screwdriver– nobody has them everybody ends up needing one. 
  • A/V cords –Girls tend to use these for movie nights and boys tend to use them for every nights….these can connect laptops to TV’s  and show then the guys can show off their “impressive” gaming skills. These are relatively cheap and are always breaking, being left somewhere, or being dropped in something wet or gooey so extras are goo!)
  • Quirky piggy banks laundry requires quarters. (HINT: a really cool relative would send a piggy bank pre filled with quarters!)-They can be cute and decorative.  These do not have to be on display but there are some really cute ones out there (I also use mine as a bookend) Here are some examples of ones I’ve seen in rooms (dudes like banks like this and here are some cute girly options)
  • Power Strips– you will never have enough power strips
  • Bean Bags– this is mostly for the guys, girls will pile up on each others beds the guys will not. 
  • college cookbooks. They exist. They are good. there are many options so here is a good place to start.
  • Small games: banana-grams, cards, dice, the game of things, ping pong balls/paddles are all good to have around. Yes these things will be used for drinking games. Get over it.
  • A wall clock– These are usually light enough to be hung via command strips. you can even make your own custom clocks at websites like

2.1 Stuff to buy in bulk, multiple sets (otherwise you will spend you life in CVS/Walgreens/Publix)

  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo/conditioner/body wash ( you can buy the big bottle and siphon off into a smaller container)
  • K cups (coffee)/hot coco mix/ tea
  • Command strips (but not the actual hooks!!)
  • Pillow cases (see above!)
  • Pens
  • Hair ties and clips
  • Laundry stuff (the pods of detergent are AWESOME, dryer sheets are multi use since they help drawers smell fresh and such so it never hurts to have a lot on hand)

2.2 Stuff NOT to buy in bulk

  • Sponges
  • Toothbrushes
  • Command Hooks
  • batteries I know this seems counter intuitive but honestly very few things are battery operated anymore, everything gets plugged in and charged, so if you buy a thousand bazillion batteries they will sit unused in a drawer forgotten and when you do need them you will go out and buy new because you will have forgotten that the batteries either exist or where they are. Trust me.
  • highlighters they dry out and then they are useless.

3. The Mom Guide

Moms- you WILL want to send your kid everything. you will be out shopping, something will catch your eye and you will think I bet little Jonny/betty would just love that! let me send that to them at college! So here are the mom guides

What the cool moms should do: Around midterms send a care package with some new socks, underwear, and bras and a set of PJs (or send a gift card to a store for those specific items). I know it sounds super weird but it’s actually the best feeling to have fresh essentials just as life is getting really stressful for the first time

What the cool moms should NOT do: do not assume you kid needs things. Unless it is something they ask for it will end up clutter. I’m not saying don’t send a gifts ever- I am saying don’t constantly send useless stuff. When you do send stuff to your kid make sure you can answer these three questions with 100% certainty: will my kid use this more than once? Will this item take up too much space? Is this item unfair to my kid’s roommate?

I hope this was helpful! Please comment below if you can think of something that should be here (keep in mind I left the no-brainer items out)


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