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Moving out of the house and into a college dorm is an exciting experience for students, but for the grown-ups who raised them, it can be stressful. Your baby bird is finally leaving the nest, and you want to be sure they have all the comforts of home in their new space.
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Our experts at Reviewed have done the legwork on what college-bound students really want (and need). We compiled a list of dorm room essentials, sentimental gifts and a few fun extras that will make the transition from home to the dorm a breeze. From coffee makers and microwaves to laptops and electric toothbrushes, this list has it all.
1. For the student who needs food, fast: A countertop microwave
There’s not a lot of time for cooking in between classes and studying, so a microwave like the Toshiba Countertop Microwave will come in handy. The compact size makes it perfect for small spaces and it was one of the best affordable countertop microwaves we tested for having useful presets and a smart sensor.
2. For the student who values a good night’s sleep: Cool, crisp sheets
Whether they decide to make it every morning or go with the lived-in look, this Percale Sheet Set from Tuft and Needle will make for a restful night’s sleep. As a reminder, dorm room beds are usually extra-long twins, so make sure you’re getting the correct size before buying. Each extra-long twin set comes with a fitted sheet, top sheet and one pillowcase.
$160 at Tuft and Needle
3. For the student who can’t get enough smoothies: A personal blender
Heading to your local juice shop for a smoothie can be very expensive, especially on a student budget. The Zwilling Enfinigy Personal Blender is small enough to keep out on the counter but powerful enough to blend up the thickest of smoothies.
$130 at Zwilling
4. For the student who keeps it cool: A mini fridge that holds all their necessities
No dorm room is complete without a mini fridge. Students will love the retro vibes of this Magic Chef Retro Mini Fridge. It has all the space needed for their favorite snacks and drinks and is the best mini fridge we tested for it’s excellent temperature control
$200 at Home Depot
5. For the student who can’t miss their shows: Google Chromecast
Our favorite budget-friendly streaming device is the Google Chromecast with Google TV, and we’re sure your college student will love it, too. It features an excellent remote, a very wide range of Android apps and all of the best streaming apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max and more.
$40 at Best Buy
6. For the student who wants a spa-like shower experience: Amazon Pinzon towels
A new set of Amazon’s top-rated Pinzon Organic Cotton Bath Towels will lessen the blow of having to share a bathroom with roommates. There are four super plush, 100% cotton towels in each pack, and they come in ten different colors.
$40 at Amazon
7. For the student who likes to cook: An electric sauté pan
No kitchen, no problem. You don’t need a stove to use the Dezin Electric Non-Stick Hot Pot. The non-stick coating makes it perfect for sautéing vegetables or cooking up some eggs or, you can use it as a pot to warm up stews and soups.
$50 at Amazon
8. For the student who needs their caffeine: A single-serve coffee maker
Most dorm rooms don’t have enough space for a full-size coffee maker, but early morning classes and late-night study sessions require caffeine. Allow them to get their fix with the Keurig K Mini that brews the perfect single cup of coffee.
$80 at Amazon
Tote your shower essentials around in this sturdy, yet fashionable, portable shower caddy. It has plenty of compartments for all of your favorite shampoos, soaps, and more.
$14 at Amazon
10. For the student who plans on acing all their classes: A new HP laptop
If there’s one thing college students are going to need, it’s a reliable laptop. The HP Envy x360 is our best budget laptop for its excellent performance and bright display. It’s a fast and affordable laptop that also works for photo editing and gaming.
$690 at HP
11. For the student who would never miss their favorite binge-able show: A new smart television
Everyone will want to pop over to the room that has the best value tv we tested, the TCL 55-inch Smart TV on the wall. With 4K Ultra HD and voice control, it’s perfect for a movie night or a few rounds of a favorite video game.
$700 at Amazon
12. For the student obsessed with waffles: Dash mini waffle maker
As if we didn’t already love Dash’s collection of adorable mini appliances, now they’ve teamed up with Williams Sonoma on a Tiny Chef waffle maker design in which 30% of the retail price will benefit the No Kid Hungry Campaign. Your college kid can make waffles, hash browns and even cookies with this versatile, non-stick appliance.
$20 at Williams Sonoma
13. For the student who wants to get to know their dormmates: Convo & Chill game
Help them get to know their new dormmates with the Convo and Chill game. It’s a fun conversation starter game guaranteed to start some unexpected conversations and help the new roommates get to know each other.
$30 at Amazon
14. For the student who wants the brightest smile: A new electric toothbrush
You might a lot of new people in college, and having a bright, friendly smile can leave a great first impression. With a powerful sonic vibration in three modes to choose from, the hum by Colgate Smart Electric Toothbrush Kit includes everything they need to keep up those pearly whites: one smart electric adult toothbrush handle and head, one charger, one carrying case and one extra refill brush.
$60 at Amazon
15. For the student who needs to take a trip to the laundromat: A bag that carries it all
This RPET Essential XL Laundry Backpack is big enough for a few loads of laundry and then some. The side pockets hold detergent, fabric softener, and more.
$30 at Pottery Barn Teen
16. For the student who needs more closet space: A hanging closet organizer
Dorm room closets are notoriously small. This SMIRLY Hanging Closet Organizer with six pull-out drawers and additional space for even more stuff expands your closet space so you save space and stay organized.
$36 at Amazon
17. For the student who wants to tuck away their stuff: A dorm-friendly trunk
This Standard Dorm Trunk does double duty. It maximizes storage and can also serve as a coffee table, nightstand, or bench.
$300 at Pottery Barn Teen
18. For the student who likes to study in bed: A portable lap desk
When they’re not studying at the library, they can study comfortably in their own bed with a portable lap desk. It’s the perfect size for a laptop, features a cushion, an anti-slip wrist pad, plus a storage compartment that’s the perfect size for a smartphone.
$38 at Amazon
19. For the student who’s missing home: A digital picture frame
Being away from home for the first time is tough, but the Aura Carver Luxe Digital Picture Frame makes it easier. Just download the free Aura app, set up the frame on WiFi, and invite family and friends to share photos and short videos.
$180 at Amazon
20. For the student who needs a pick-me-up: A care package
Let your student know you are thinking about them with a curated The Box by Dormify. Each 13-piece care package comes with snacks, candles, socks, face masks and more to help them feel more at home.
$75 at Dormify
21. For the student who needs to rehydrate: A vitamin and hydration supplement to add to your water bottle
Stave off those winter colds with packets of Liquid IV’s Hydration Multiplier Plus Immune Support that offer a blend of vitamin C, Zinc, and other essential minerals. The single-serving, travel-friendly packets are perfect for throwing in a bag and using on the go.
$23 at Amazon
22. For the student whose best friend is at a different school: A friendship lamp
Help your student keep in touch with this Friendship Lamp. Keep one and give the other to a friend or family member. When touched, the other lamp will light up and let the person know you are thinking of them.
$184 at Amazon
23. For the student who misses home-cooked food: A meal delivery service
Cafeteria food just can’t compete with home cooking. Make mealtime easy with Freshly’s meal delivery service. Meals start at just eight dollars and feature mouthwatering entrees like Zingy Buffalo Chicken Bake and Pork Chili Colorado.
From $9 per meal at Freshly
24. For the student who doesn’t want to forget all their college firsts: Rifle Paper Co. journal set
Journaling has been shown to relieve stress and help retain important memories. This five year keepsake journal set is the perfect gift for a student who’s just starting out on their own and will last throughout the college years.
$60 at Rifle Paper Co.
25. For the caretakers who are ready to celebrate: A bottle of champagne that comes with its own ice bucket
You did it! You successfully raised a human and sent them off to college. It was hard work, but as they say, it takes a village. Make a toast with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot which comes with its own portable ice bucket.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.