H.S. Graduation Gifts - College Dorm Room Needs

Updated on April 04, 2012
R.T. asks from Spring, TX
13 answers

If got a question for the moms and dads to ask their college students.

I have a high school senior this year and I will be receiving many graduation announcements from her friends. Most of these girls are like my own children. I really don't like to give money or gift cards because I personally feel they are rather impersonal. All of the girls are going away to college and will be staying in dorms. So I would like to know what your college students took for their dorm room that was a great hit or what was a real dud. It can be something useful or something that is just for fun. I would like to keep the price around $20-50. I'm already planning on doing something with a picture of all of them together. I am really looking for ideas from the college student's perspective of what they really liked/or used and what they took to college but never used and it just took up space or was a waste of money.

Thanks in advance.

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answers from Washington DC on

Money. Gift cards to places like Target.

That said - snack baskets, toiletries in a plastic carry basket, a nice bathrobe and fun flipflops (functional, not fashion) for the communal showers, a nice sheet or towel set (2 - one to wash, one to use), basic cleaning supplies (even a dorm room sometimes needs paper towels and Windex), first aid kit, sticky tack or some version of the stuff you can use for posters on the wall that won't damage the wall, ID holder/wallet, whiteboard for the outside of the door.

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answers from Sacramento on

Thinking back to my college days, a cute laundry bag and a roll of quarters would have been fantastic. I was always scraping around for quarters to do laundry.

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answers from Austin on

One mom who has 3 children so they have tons of friends. and are invited to all types of Graduation events, always gives the kids their own tool case. The girls she gives the pink ones, the boys the blue ones.


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answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter is graduating this year too. We are either making some bathroom "totes" with flip flops and other bathroom needs (a bath scrubbie/loofah thing, nail kit,other things...we saw this idea on Pinterest and was cute!)


Or we might make a small laundry kit. Buy some of those new Tide "pods" for washing (no spilling or slopping around of detergent when you toss the bottle into the basket of clean clothes?), a small box of dryer sheets and some quarters. Maybe use jars for them in their own little small tote with a handle (we are fond of jars here!! LOL)

Maybe a small first aid kit (in a jar of course for us). Bandaids, antibiotic cream, cortisone cream, a thermometer, advil/tylonol, maybe some peptobismol tablets or rolaids, etc..those sorts of things. You could create any of these sorts of little "kits".

How about a sewing kit? Small scissors, a few spools of thread..white, black, creme and navy. Sewing needles, shirt and pants buttons, hook and eyes (can save a bra!)...sort of like this (will give you an idea maybe?)

Any of that get the creative stuff going?

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi punkin-

I would suggest a nice set of sheets (extra long single if in a dorm bed)...and maybe some coordinating towels?

Best Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My daughter's favorite dorm items were posters for the wall (and a supply of 3M command strips so as not to damage the walls!), a big picture collage with photos of all her friends and family, and a hard shower caddy and flip flops and a robe for the shower. Having visited many colleges over the last few years, I just wanted to mention that many college laundry facilities do not require quarters anymore - so maybe best to check ahead of time before handing out rolls of quarters! Another very useful item was a small Vera Bradley ID holder to hold her swipe card. Also, a small Totes umbrella. As far as useless items go, she never used half the cleaning products we sent her with (wishful thinking on my part, I guess!), and ended up saving all her hand wash for when she came home, lol. Hope this helps - good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

The gifts that didn't get used were the books (sad but true), graduation plagues or mugs, things that didn't match my daughter's color scheme (you'd have to include the receipt if they want a different color), a photo album that was too gaudy, the wrong style of hamper, and picture frames that were too cheesy.

The best gifts were the practical ones. A tool kit came in handy, first aid kit, school supplies (pens, paper clips, stapler, thumb tacks), a hanging jewelry organizer was a huge hit as my daughter has a lot of jewelry (TJ Maxx has some cute ones right now), surge protector, and over the door shoe bag.

Be sure to include the gift receipt if it is something that might not be their style. What sounds like a great caddy idea to you might not be how they want to carry their stuff. E.g. my daughter found some cute tall cloth lined baskets for her laundry while my son preferred the standard plastic basket. I used a drawstring bag in college. My daughter was really into color-coordinating things with her freshman roommate. My son was happy with the most minimal of stuff.

You can always include a Target gift card inside another gift if the value is not as high as you wanted to spend. Those were the most appreciated as Target has so many things they need.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

those removable wall hooks, removable wall decals, under bed storage options.



answers from Odessa on

Shower caddy - pop in a some bright colored shower shoes for those community showers in the dorm; bright colored towels or wash cloths, soap holder - stuff like that. Include an over the door hook or two which will come in handy for hanging on the door of the shower and placing the towel on while in the shower or on the back of a door to make additonal space for coats/hats.


answers from Dallas on

If I were in this situation, I would do a craft. Make them each a door hanger of thier name. It's common to hang your name on the outside of your dorm room door.




answers from Waco on

A monogrammed laundry bag. Best gift ever and they will get used for years to come!



answers from Kansas City on

Not too fun, but I agree with one of the other posters about a first aid kit. Thermometer, tylenol/advil, bandaids of different sizes, nail clippers, tweezers, etc. The kids won't know they need that stuff until they don't have it!
My son got one when he graduated and I wish I would have thought of it.



answers from Austin on

The most useful things I remember getting, were a shower caddy (it didn't have toiletries in it, those are kind of personal, but maybe with shower shoes? depending on how much you want to spend?), and a shoe-box-sized plastic storage box that the giver had filled with things like paperclips, pencils, a baggie of rubber bands, a small ruler - the things you don't think about until you need one RIGHT NOW. I agree about the dry erase board for the door. Also, maybe a lap desk - the kind that's squishy on the bottom - it's more fun to do homework in the common rooms, or basically anywhere that's not sequestered away in a dorm room! ID holders are good, too.

And, if you find yourself at a loss, I know you said you don't like gift cards because they are too impersonal, but I have developed a habit of giving a gift card to the campus bookstore where the graduate will be going to college. That way, it's tailored to them (or, at least their school!), but they can use it to buy a campus t-shirt, or scan-trons, or books, or whatever.

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