Dorm Room Necessities

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Sending our oldest away to college was going to be difficult enough as she selected a college 4.5 hours away and would be leaving her 10 year old sister behind. To make it more challenging, my job had just been reduced to part time hours so paying for college was an additional concern all of the sudden. In order to provide some basic DORM ROOM necessities, I began collecting items last September to present to her upon graduation from High school.


First I selected a HIGH quality LARGE laundry basket (I wrote her last name on bottom with a black sharpie).

I began by scouring the drawers and closets at home for unused items, purchasing from the dollar store or outlet malls and began redeeming FREE offers from some of the websites that give free samples and redeemed the FREE with purchase gifts when ordering office supplies. I've included most of the following items:

Kitchen Items:

  • coffee mug-both regular (microwave safe) and insulated
  • immersion heater
  • mini-coffee pot
  • food storage containers
  • pizza "sleeves"*
  • can opener
  • spatula
  • measuring spoons
  • chip clips
  • dish towel and pot holder
  • salt and pepper grinders

*disposable plastic pizza slice shaped bags which store an individual piece of pizza

Cleaning Items:

  • dust mit
  • dust buster
  • wipes
  • comet
  • toilet brush set
  • dish scrubber
  • MR clean magic eraser
  • free samples of laundry detergent
  • Ad
  • stain remover stick
  • ice scraper

Office Supplies:

  • paper clips
  • magnets
  • push pins
  • pencils
  • pens
  • desk blotter
  • mouse pad
  • portfolio
  • wipe off board
  • sticky tac
  • post it notes
  • CD's
  • extension cord
  • desk lamp


  • over the door hangers
  • sweater hangers
  • shoe rack
  • air freshener
  • lingerie bags
  • monogrammed towel set

First Aid Kit

  • band-aids
  • Neosporin
  • pain reliever

Inspirational Items

  • puzzle book
  • book mark
  • picture frames
  • blank greeting cards/stamps

  • umbrella
  • sewing kit
  • personal hygiene items (tampons, nail clippers, lint brush)

I plan on adding food items such as Easy Mac, Ramen noodles, canned soups, etc. I will add a roll of quarters too and probably a certificate to a fast food restaurant in the area. Then I'll wrap with cellophane purchased after Easter and top with a big bow. Purchasing the items a little bit at a time has been FUN. I made a list and only bought when on sale so it was like a scavenger hunt. This spread out the economic impact of the gift.


This gift is practical and can be personalized to each recipient. I have given them in the past and they have always been a hit with any teen. You can use any item as your "gift box" if a laundry basket is too expensive or large to fill.

By Diana from Prospect, KY

February 23, 20090 found this helpful

Sounds like you made her quite a great gift basket. Did you include cold medicine, anti-diarrheal, pepto and other comon medicines? I am sure she will be calling mom several times for suggestions on what to take for this or that. What about a calendar or a daily planner?

How about dryer sheets? They are light weight. I LOVE that you sent her with sample laundry detergent. No need for extremely heavy bottles of detergent and everyone wont be able to mooch expensive detergent off of her.

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February 23, 20090 found this helpful

What a thoughtful Mom you are! I woud have loved to have a basket like this when I moved out.

Instead of celofane, you might consider wrapping everything in a set of curtians, a shower curtian, or a plastic table cloth. College students often have to share space, and the curtian or shower curtian can be used to divide off a section of the room, either to hide storage or for a changing area. Shower curtians and plastic drop cloths are also useful for outdoors when the ground is damp. Extra curtians can also darken a room when the night was spent "studying".

Aluminum Foil is terribly useful and versitile, and I would include duct tape, string, and WD40 as well. You might want to include a good pair of scissors, too.

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February 23, 20090 found this helpful

I didn't see flatware in the list. She will need something to eat those quick snacks. Maybe some crackers or chips that she likes. You may need to get some DVD's too, some assignments may be too large for a CD, but hopefully not this first year.

For the First Aid kit: add new sterile tweezers, alcohol, peroxide, the different types of pain relievers that she might need for the differrent types of pains, and a thermometer.

You could make her a nice personal 'from mom to daughter' gift basket too, with shower gel, a special bathmitt, or bathsalts and some words of wisdom written in the journal you include in this basket. So when she's feeling home sick she can write to you just like you were sitting right there and either mail it, or keep to herself, but it would give her an outlet and a way to reach your wisdom.

If I think of anything else, I'll let you know.

One last read of your list, I didn't see a saucepan for cooking those raman noodles.

This sounds like you have had a blast. I know she will love it.

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February 24, 20090 found this helpful

Don't forget to throw in a roll or two of quarters for the washer and dryer. Also, she'll need a mattress cover, sheets, and a comforter--dorms don't provide them--but find out the mattress size. My son's went from an extra-long twin, to a regular twin, to a double in three years at the same college.

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February 24, 20090 found this helpful

This really is a super idea. I have a nephew who left for college 4 hours away last summer. Around Thanksgiving for his birthday, I mailed him a Walmart gift card. He told me it came just in time because he needed to buy toilet paper and new tires for his bicycle (his main mode of transportation around campus). When he was home for Christmas I fixed him up a bag of toiletries to take back to school. It was very appreciated.

Tracey in Jacksonville

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February 24, 20090 found this helpful

I thinks it's great that you were able to have fun while doing this and also that you had the foresight to start that far ahead of time. Your daughter will be two steps ahead if she has your kind of attitudes. Good luck to her in school, and to you in life. Thanks.

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February 25, 20090 found this helpful

My gift to all my nieces and nephews has been a backpack filled with office supplies... pens, pencils, scotch tape, scissors, stapler w/box of staples, paper, notebooks, printer paper, etc. This comes from working in a university where I get a constant stream of "Can I borrow your stapler, or can I have some tape".

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August 10, 20120 found this helpful

Now a days, The colleges usually allow a microwave and small refridgerator. They will sometimes supply them for a fee. If they don't. When I went we made a hot plate using an iron held upside down between two bricks. I also learned to cook and bake in a 2-piece pop corn popper. (If they are still around}. Pop corn is always a favorite. Microwave if one is available. I am a tea drinker so a large jar of instant or tea bags was appreciated.

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August 10, 20120 found this helpful

I have done mini versions of this for graduation parties I've attended. I found out recently that a relative loved hers - twenty years ago - and has been doing similar ones for her graduates! Always good to know!

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August 11, 20120 found this helpful

In the first aid section, you forgot something. It is so easy to forget, and I have also forgotten to get one. Your college student will need a thermometer (either digital or oral). Most doctors, if they don't know you well, will ask what your temperature was when you first noticed your illness. I am pretty sure most students go shopping when they are feeling well and feel they can take a few moments away from their studies, so your student will probably not think to get a thermometer until after an illness and by then, probably find something else that might be more important at that moment than a thermometer that will only sit until the next illness, most students don't want to think about the next illness.

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In This Article
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Parenting Tips for College Age Children
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Setting a Curfew for College Age Children
A bride with gifts.
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Halloween Ideas!
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