Software engineering student sitting on bed with books, laptop and textbooks around and writing in notebook

23 College Dorm Room Essentials and Gift Ideas

The days of cramming undergraduates into shared dorm rooms with a communal bathroom down the hall are coming to an end. As colleges and universities across the country scramble to figure out how they will attract students to fill enrollments, new protocols are changing for how students live.

Software engineering student sitting on bed with books, laptop and textbooks around and writing in notebook

Regardless, at least one thing we can count on is that dorm rooms will still be stark—offering just the bare necessities of a bed, desk, and chair. Should you or someone you love be turning into a dorm dweller, consider this list of essentials and gift ideas that will go a long way to make dorm life easier, functional, and comfy.

Alarm Clock

This is innovative—an alarm clock that projects the time and temperature on the ceiling! It’s a weather station, and a USB charger, too.

Perfect for a dorm room, this Projection Alarm Clock can predict the weather for the next 12 hours as well as the barometric pressure trend and temperature trend; 12/24 hour, date, and week which are all displayed on the 3’’ backlit LCD screen.

Comes with dual alarms and snooze functions plus battery backup.


Closet Space Saver

Dorm rooms are small and their closets are even tinier, making a box of 10 Wonder Hangers just the ticket to effectively triple the size of the space because you use all of the space, not only the space on the rod.

Keep clothes neat, wrinkle-free, and organized. Ingenious!

Save $2.00

Shower Bag

Students need a bag they can fill up with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razor, loofah so they can head for the shower knowing they’ve got everything you need.

Then hang the Mesh Shower Bag for Dorm & Gym right in the shower. Plenty of big pockets to hold everything. Made of plastic mesh so it’s waterproof and dries quickly.

Perfect for the college dorm, swimmers, travelers, gym members, sports team. Fill it for an even better gift! 

Save $2.00

Monogrammed Towels

We have insider information here at EC Central that newly-minted college students really like towels that are monogrammed with their name or initials. Monogrammed towels are easy to track down and the graduation gift most likely to survive the college years.

These towels, which look slightly cheesy here, are actually extremely high quality, and the monogram of your choice is very well constructed. (I’ve gifted this set of towels on more than a few occasions, and always to rave reviews!)



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 earplugs (in a bit) and sleep comes easily.

This Sleep Mask is contoured and adjustable, light-blocking, soft, breathable, cozy. Just right.


Laundry Bag

Dorm life requires a solid, sturdy laundry bag if for no other reason than to get one’s clothes home to mom on the weekends. Just kidding.

You won’t find a better laundry bag for any situation than this heavy-duty canvas 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.

Hint: If you want to expand your gift, fill this laundry bag with towels and toiletry items.


Desk Lamp

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.

This LED Desk Lamp has an adjustable lamp-arm with a turnable base that ensures the perfect angle.

Handy built-in wireless charger and USB port for charging smartphones, tablets, iwatches, and e-readers.


Save $10.00

Tabletop / Clip-On Fan

Dorm rooms can get “close,” if you know what I mean. And stuffy. This small (6-inch diameter) corded clip-on Avalon Fan is perfect for sleeping, studying or just hanging out. Fits in almost any bag, too.

Stands alone or converts to clip-on. which makes it super versatile. Two extremely quiet speeds.

To switch from tabletop to clip on and back, simply loosen the butterfly screw on the fan head and attach the base of your preference.


Clip-On Reading Light

Reading in bed or at night becomes a necessary option—even when roommates need it to be lights out.

This Clip On Reading Light goes anywhere because it works anywhere and under any conditions. Rechargeable battery, comes with three levels of brightness.

Comes with a clamp holder and flexible tube, that means it can be affixed to any edge. Adjustable to accommodate any angle desired.


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. Several sizes to choose from; this 16-oz capacity comes in choice of colors.



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.

This model has a Lithium-Ion battery which gives it a terrific runtime with no memory effect.

Save $8.36

One Dozen Pens

A whole box of 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 should be plenty for at least a few months. BIC Glide Bold Ball Pens are way smooth. Once you use one, you’ll never go back. Neither will your note-taking student.

Save $1.00

Clip-on Nightstand

This is ingenious—a shelf that attaches to the side of most any bed (no tools required!) without getting in the way of sleep. Bed Shelfie is an easily attachable tray and requires no tools. It easily attaches to a bed frame.

Bed Shelfie is a great space-saving shelf used by dorm students everywhere, allowing access to a variety of items, such as laptop, phone, books, earbuds, and contact lenses.


Computer Printer

There are lots to choose from but none more efficient and reliable than the Brother Black and White printer.

A perfect choice for the dorm room, this sweet printer handles automatic two-sided printing; it’s pretty speedy too, at 27 pages per minute with a 250 sheet paper capacity.



Water Bottle

An eco-friendly, recyclable, durable, designed to last, reusable, refillable water bottle is a must-have with the college set.

This Contigo AutoSeal Bottle is ideal as it is high-quality, food-grade stainless steel BPA-free. This durable, if not enviable, water bottle is the gold standard. Choose from a wide array of colors.


Cushy 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 Bare Home Pillow-top Mattress Pad XL Twin will make an enormous difference. Comes in a variety of sizes including Twin Extra Long.

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 Laundry Bundle assures 70 loads of clean, fresh-smelling laundry—more than sufficient to get through the entire year!

No products found.

Power Bank

The Anker PowerCore 20000 Power Bank is more than an extra battery. This is a full-on powerhouse for iPhone, iWatch, iPad, Samsung Galaxy, notebooks, e-readers, 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 before it needs to be recharged. Comes with an 18-month warranty.

Save $5.00

Shower Sandals

Rubber, slide-on sandals with non-slip construction—that look cool, too—are a requirement in a dorm, but also certain to be a big hit.

These sandals offer amazing arch support besides being quite awesome. (They dry fast, too.) Available in men’s sizes and women’s sizes and come in a variety of colors.


Save $16.00


Dorm life being what it is, can be for some young people, a shocking contrast to home. A supply of easy-to-use and comfortable earplugs should be on every dorm-dwelling collegian’s list of must-haves.

This supply of 50 pairs Ear Buddy Premium Soft Foam Earplugs should take care of that need for a good while. These are the best.


Save $5.02

Now about food…

If your student’s college dorm doesn’t offer gourmet food, and if the dorm rules permit it, consider making sure he or she 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 to 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 students to make just about anything.

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 a great option for on-the-go, always-starving students.

Save $2.00

Instant Pot

It does everything and in just a 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, 3Qt is the perfect option for dorm living.

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 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!


 Everyday Cheapskate participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn from qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.




Print Friendly, PDF & Email

More from Everyday Cheapskate

graduation gifts three throwing caps up into blue sky.
starter kitchen items knife oven mitts pyrex baking dish slow cooker pots pans coffeemaker
diy homemade gift ideas for all occasions cookbook calendar frame cookie mix jar
mothers day gift guide hero image with three gifts for moms
Valentines day greeting card with rose flowers and gift box on white wooden background
2023 Gift Guide Fun Stuff Kids
Winter mountain road landscape with campervan turning aside. Family vacation travel, holiday trip in motorhome. Beautiful austrian nature scene.
Gift Guide Board Games

Please keep your comments positive, encouraging, helpful, brief,
and on-topic in keeping with EC Commenting Guidelines

Last update on 2024-05-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *