Smart Gifts for College-Bound Grads

Although my grandsons are still quite young, I’m keeping this excellent reader tip handy for when they graduate from high school. What a great idea!

When our grandchildren started graduating from high school and heading off to college, we wanted to give them money each month during their first year. So in their high school graduation card we enclosed ten—$100 post-dated checks, starting with August of that year and ending the following May. We knew it would come in handy, not only for the grandchildren but for their parents, too. We figured the extra money each month might avoid a call home, asking their parents for a little bit more. Or, it might pay for something that was unexpected.

Our oldest grandson told us many times how he appreciated this. We have been blessed, always knowing how important we are to our grandchildren—because we have let them know how important they are to us. Linda

I just love that idea. But not every gift for a college-bound young person needs to come with a $1,000 price tag. In fact, for as little as $12 you can  honor a young person’s accomplishment with a gift to make dorm life easier and more enjoyable, too!

1. PRESSURE SENSITIVE ALARM CLOCK. This is really innovative—an alarm clock that requires both feet on the floor in a standing position to turn the thing off. It will effectively get students out of bed by forcing them to stand on the mat for more than 3 seconds. Witwatia Pressure Sensitive Alarm Clock also has a clock display, that lights up when the mat is tapped. About $60.

2. SPACE SAVER HANGERS. Dorm rooms are small and their closets are even tinier, making a box of 20 Bria USA Cascade Space-Saver Hangers with swivel hooks just the ticket. These hangers use all of the available closet space  not only on the closet rod, because they hang on one another. Ingenious! About $25.

3. SHOWER BAG.  Fill it up with your shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor and loofah, and head for the shower, knowing you’ve got everything you need. Then hang The Original Mesh Shower Bag for Dorm & Gym right in the shower with you. Plenty of big pockets to hold everything. Made of plastic mesh so it’s waterproof and dries quickly, too. About $13.

4. SLEEP MASK. College dorms are not always the most conducive when it comes to sleep. Students have to catch those precious winks when and if they can. A good, comfortable sleep mask removes the “if” from the equation. Add ear plugs (in a bit) and sleep comes easily. Nidra Deep Rest Eye Mask is contoured and adjustable. About $12.

5. LAUNDRY BAG. Dorm life requires a solid, sturdy laundry bag if for no other reason than to get the thing home to mom on the weekends. Just kidding. You won’t find a better laundry bag for any situation than this heavy-duty canvas Thicken Laundry Bag with easy-to-carry metal handles. It is self-standing when full, but also collapses for easy storage. And it looks good, too. About $20. Hint: If you want to expand your gift, fill this laundry bag with  towels and toiletry items.

6. DESK LAMP WITH USB CHARGING PORT. This high-quality LED lamp will be perfect in any dorm room. Students can choose between four  lighting modes (study, read, relax and bedtime) and five dimming levels. Anker Lumos LED Desk Lamp‘s adjustable lamp-arm with turnable base ensures they’re able to get the perfect angle. Built-in USB port charges smartphones, tablets and e-readers at speeds of up 2 amps. About $40.

7. CLIP-ON FAN. Dorm rooms can get “close,” if you know what I mean. And stuffy. This small (6-inch diameter) battery-powered clip-on Avalon Fan is perfect for sleeping, studying or just hanging out. Fits in most any bag, too. About $20.

8. CLIP-ON LED READING LIGHT. And it’s rechargeable. Reading in bed or at night becomes a viable option—even when roommates need it to be lights out. This sweet Dharma Diner reading lamp goes anywhere because it works anywhere and under any conditions. Adjustable to accommodate any angle desired.  About $18.

9. TRAVEL MUG. Coffee, anyone? If your student runs on dark, hot liquids, this Zojirushi stainless steel travel coffee mug is the ticket. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful and keeps hot coffee hot for a very long time. It has a non-stick coated interior and flip-open lid. The entire thing disassembles for thorough cleaning. Accommodates full-size ice cubes for cold drinks, too; 16-oz capacity comes in choice of colors. About $25.

10. HANDHELD CORDLESS VAC. Dorm life can be messy. A great cordless vac can fix that problem, mostly. I love this cordless handheld vacuum more than I’ve loved any other hand vac and give it many stars—far more than the traditional five! For the money, BLACK + DECKER CHV1410L 16V Cordless Lithium Hand Vac (please do not confuse it with its disappointing cousin that has a Ni-Cad battery) can’t be beat. Every dorm room needs one. About $50.

11. A DOZEN PENS is a good start. Even in these days of electronic devices, students need great pens that write smoothly, are comfortable to use and can be found quickly. Twelve of them should be plenty for at least a few months. BIC Velocity Ballpoint Bold Point Pens are way smooth. Once you use one, you’ll never go back. Neither will your note-taking student. About $7.

12. BEDSIDE SHELF. This is ingenious—a shelf that attaches to the side of most any bed (no tools required!) without getting in the way of sleep. Bunk Buddy is an easily attachable tray and requires no tools! It uses only the twist of a thumb to attach to a bed frame. Bunk Buddy is a great space saving shelf used dorm students everywhere, allowing access to a variety of items, such as laptops, books & contact lenses. About $29 and worth every penny.

13. COMPUTER PRINTER. There are lots to choose from but none more efficient and reliable than the Brother HL-L2380DW Black and White scanner printer. Perfect choice for a the dorm room, this sweet printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it’s pretty speedy too, at 32 pages per minute, with a cost-per-page of about 2.3 cents. About $129.

14. WATER BOTTLE. An eco-friendly, recyclable, durable, designed to last, reusable, refillable water bottle, Klean Kanteen Wide Mouth Bottle with Stainless Loop Cap is a must have with the college set. High-quality, food grade stainless steel through and through; no plastic or aluminum in this durable, if not enviable, water bottle. Choose from a wide array of colors. About $19.

15. CUSHY LUXURIOUS MATTRESS PAD. A good night’s sleep depends on a lot of things with a thick, soft, comfortable surface to sleep on  right at the top of the list. No matter the mattress that comes with that dorm room, the Pinzon Hypoallergenic Overfilled Microplush Mattress Pad will make an enormous difference. Comes in a variety of sizes including Twin Extra Long. About $35.

16. LAUNDRY BUNDLE. Remember that laundry bag (above)? Fill it with this bundle of laundry products. Your “giftee” may not fully appreciate this right now when the actual cost of doing laundry remains a mystery to him or her, that will change very soon. And you’ll be the hero. This Tide Amazing Laundry Bundle assures 68 loads of clean, fresh-smelling laundry—more than sufficient get through then entire year! About $32.

17. ULTRA HIGH-CAPACITY POWER BANK. The Anker PowerCore 20100 Power Bank is more than an extra battery. This is a full-on powerhouse for iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy and more. And it’s fast, delivering a full charge at record speed with amazing capacity. Example: One charge will fully charge an iPhone seven times! About $40.

18. SHOWER SANDALS. Rubber, slide-on sandals with non-slip construction—that also look cool—are a requirement in a dorm, but certain to be a big hit when they’re Vertico Shower and Pool Sandals. These sandals offer amazing arch support besides being quite awesome. (They dry fast, too.) Available in men’s sizes and women’s sizes. About $12.

19. EAR PLUGS. Dorm life being what it is—and for some youngsters a shocking contrast to home—a supply of easy-to-use and comfortable ear plugs should be on every dorm-dwelling collegian’s list of must haves. This supply of 50 pairs Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Ear Plugs should take care of that need for a good while. These are the best. About $17.

If your student’s college dorm doesn’t offer gourmet food, and if the dorm rules permit it, consider making sure they can feed themselves healthy and nutritious meals made in the room or the common kitchen. Before you go this route, however, make sure students are allowed have things like a microwave, rice cooker, indoor grill, or electric skillet in the room. Cooking in the dorm is the second leading cause of dorm fires; if students start a fire using illegal equipment, they’ll be in lots of legal trouble, as will their parents, especially if someone gets hurt.

If everything checks out, here are three items that will let them make just about anything.

20. DASH GO EGG COOKER. Just because it’s cute, don’t assume this egg cooker is only for looks. Dash Go Egg Cooker makes six hard, medium, and soft boiled eggs, individual omelets, two poached eggs and scrambled eggs—just not all at the same time. Eggs are cheap and high in protein, which makes them great option for on-the-go (but never starving) students. About $15.

21. INSTANT POT. It does everything and in just the small amount of time college students have to eat and get back to class. If allowed, an Instant Pot will save the day (and the night) and make dorm living a delight. Instant Pot IP-DUO50 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 5Qt is the perfect option for dorm living. About $95.

22. PANINI PRESS. Can’t help but wish I’d had a Panini Press back in my school days. I’d have been one popular gal, that’s for sure. Instead I settled for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches more than a few times when the cafeteria fare appeared inedible. This Hamilton Beach Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker maker grills a sandwich of any thickness in just a few minutes. Yum! About $20.

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  • dholcomb1

    most students no longer need their own printer in the dorm

  • jane

    Don’t forget a roll or two of quarters for the laundry!

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