Buying a gift for a loved one who lives in a college dorm can lead to a lot of second guessing-- will they have room for it? Where will they put it? Can get they transport it easily? Are they allowed to have it in their dorm rooms, or will they need to leave it behind until they move out?
Enough insecurity-- follow our gift guide and they’ll definitely head back to the dorm happy, AND with their gift in tow!
Food fuels us-- it is that simple. And giving the gift of food is the ultimate expression of love and care, especially if it is homemade. However, transporting homemade food can be difficult-- airplanes won’t let you bring a whole lasagna on board (unless you plan on sharing with the whole crew) and coolers may not keep food at a safe temperature on a long car trip if the proper measures aren’t taken.
It’s a much better idea to stick with easy to prepare food that uses a microwave to cook. Rice a Roni and other brands make individual servings of plain and flavored rice that cook in less than 4 minutes. We also like the Annie’s brand organic macaroni and cheese cups-- they come in both white cheddar and yellow cheddar flavors. Annie Chun’s also makes really good microwavable miso soup and other types of Asian foods-- try the curries and pad thai!
Canned and boxed soups are also a great gift idea, because they come in a huge variety to fit anyone’s taste buds. They also are super-helpful to have during cold and flu season! If you’re tired of the classic Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, try Amy’s No Chicken Noodle or her brand’s Lentil Vegetable or Chunky Vegetable soups. Campbell’s new Well Yes soup line has a delicious Mediteranean-Style Wedding Soup and Minestrone with Kale soup, as well as other varieties. Just make sure to include a microwave-safe bowl and a can opener with your gift-- we recommend the can opener from Oxo Good Grips because it leaves the edges smooth, which reduces the chances of cuts.
And don’t underestimate the power of restaurant gift cards! A quick Google search will help you locate some restaurants that deliver or do take-out near the campus where your receiver is studying. Call them and ask where they like to eat! Then purchase a few gift cards-- we like the idea of one $25 gift card each for three choices-- and pop them into a cute card. It’s the right size, color, and flavor for them to enjoy!
These days gadgets are everywhere, and they’re getting smaller and more useful. We’ve rounded up a few of the best ones that we think a college student would most appreciate and utilize.
Keysmart has produced two really cool smart gadgets that work with most smartphones. The Keysmart Pro with Tile allows you to store up to 10 keys together in one holder, kind of like a Swiss army knife. The device connects to your smartphone with the Tile app, which then allows you to use one to locate the other if you’ve lost it-- it works both ways. So if your loved one is constantly losing their phone, they can use their keys to make it ring, even on silent. And vice-versa-- they can locate their keys using their phone.
PlayBeatz’s popularity shows no signs of slowing down, but the Quietbuds may give them a run for their money. Both earbuds offer clear, vibrant sound. The Quietbuds also offer fantastic noise cancellation. Quiet Buds are fairly traditional earbuds in the sense that they utilize a cord, but the PlayBeatz are entirely cordless. Store them in their case when not in use. And be certain to buy a warranty-- replacements aren’t cheap!
Finally, Guardcard protects all of the information their wallet contains on their credit cards. The carbon fiber strip prevents the RFID scanning signals from scanning and collecting data. It looks just like any other credit card, and fits just like any other credit card into the wallet slot. They can just slide it into their wallet and forget it!
Safety should come first in all things, and that includes college dorms. Now, as domiciles go, dormitories are some of the safest places to live-- public safety walks through on their routines, the doors are locked with ID card access only, and there are resident life employees on every floor to monitor students. However, sometimes bad things happen regardless of safety precautions.
Equip your loved one with some safety items to help increase their chances of not getting hurt. Put together a safety kit with a miniature single-use fire extinguisher, a foldable fire escape ladder, and a piece of pure white or brightly colored fabric. The extinguisher can be used on small, immediate fires that may happen in their dorm room-- such as sparks from a power surge or faulty outlet. The ladder clamps onto the windowsill, giving your loved one a chance to escape if their way to the fire escape is blocked. The fabric is a last-ditch effort-- if there is no way for them to escape their room, they can display the fabric in the window to alert rescuers to their presence and location.
If that seems too morbid, purchase them a small fireproof and waterproof lock box in which to store their important papers and emergency money stash. If a box is too large, some manufacturers also make bags. Then, before they leave for school, make sure that they have copies of their birth certificate, social security card, and other important papers inside the box or bag to take with them.
Another safety measure that college students are notorious for neglecting is making sure that their computers and devices have updated anti-virus, malware, and spyware protection. Often, the school they attend provides protection for their network-- sometimes they also offer discounts on antivirus and other protection to students through the IT department-- but it’s not always enough or top of the line. We recommend Norton Antivirus, McAfee, or AVG. AVG offers a free trial version if you’d like to try it out yourself before purchasing it as a gift.
Lastly in this category, we’d like to recommend a first-aid kit and medicine “cabinet.” Many companies offer pre-made first-aid kits which serve their purpose admirably-- they’re also easy to DIY if you know your loved one is prone to specific accidents. Medicine “cabinets” will almost assuredly be a DIY-- make sure that your loved one has immunity boosters, cough syrup, tea, anti-nausea meds, antacids, stool softeners, and any other medicines they might otherwise need to use the campus clinic for. Use a cosmetic or craft organizer to store everything neatly.
Spring Break Travel
Spring Break may feel far away, but in the academic calendar it’s not! It’s highly likely that your loved one’s college or university is offering some rather tempting Spring Break travel opportunities that combine adventure with either service or learning. It’s all rather exciting-- unless your college-aged loved one can’t afford it.
Help them out! We’re not suggesting footing the entire bill-- that would be more expensive than a holiday gift should cost-- but setting some money aside specifically for Spring Break travel is a useful and meaningful gift. Everyone appreciates a boost!
So how can you make sure that your monetary gift actually gets used for Spring Break travel, and not partying or something else?
For one thing, you can purchase their passport. It’s highly likely that they’ll need it, and paying for the process can be expensive. So in a really pretty holiday card, write down a few days that you’re available to take them around to the drugstore and post office to get their passport process started. Before the party breaks up, firm up the date and time. Then make a day out of spending the time together-- have coffee or breakfast together, get the picture taken, fill out the forms together and then go to the post office and pay the required fees. That way, even if this Spring Break is a bust, your loved one is ready for the next opportunity.
You could also pay for any immunization shots and doctor’s visits they may need to be ready and safe for traveling to foreign countries. Then stock them up on immunity boosters-- like Umka, elderberry tincture or tulsi tea-- to pack and take daily for extra protection.
Lastly, we’d like to offer an idea that is usually reserved for young children: a savings bond. For years, grandparents all over have purchased savings bonds for their grandbabies and watched both grow over time. Many of us Millennials and Gen Xers had to use ours to put down payments on student loans. Why not give one to your college-aged family member to help them get a let up on saving for retirement or buying a house? The future is entirely uncertain, so any little bit of financial help is appreciated. And unlike giving cash or a check, you have the peace of mind knowing that they’ll be wise enough when the savings bond matures to use it intelligently.
No matter what you choose to give, make sure that you have a good reason to give it to them-- practical gifts may seem obvious, but try to choose the gift based upon their personality. Someone who is not adventurous may not appreciate the gift of foreign travel, and someone who prides themselves on having never lost a phone or key may not appreciate the Keysmart products. But a loved one who lives far away from family support might be grateful for the peace of mind that a supply of medicine and fireproof/waterproof safety box can provide.
Do you have a great suggestion for a gift for a dorm-dweller? Comment below and share your ideas!