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A Perfect Gift For Your Favorite College-Bound Teens…

As you say good-bye to your own college-bound teenager, you may also be saying good-bye to her friends. They’re all pretty much the same age, after all. They’ve been in school together for one year, four years, sometimes from the beginning. They’ve had parties and sleep-overs together. They’ve done school projects together. They’ve studied together. They’ve graduated together. And then, darn it, that group of lively, challenging and heart-warming young adults you’ve come to know and love…well, they’re going to leave together, aren’t they?

What To Do? What To Do…
Maybe you gave each one a carefully selected graduation card, maybe you hosted a graduation party, maybe you snapped pictures of whoever you saw on Prom Night or maybe you just brooded about them leaving. Well, I don’t know about you, but I wanted to give my young friends a going-to-college present they would absolutely love. Everyone likes getting presents, right? But it had to be the right present–something unique, useful and manageable in a tiny dorm room. That’s what I had in mind. How about you? Do you want to do something a little extra for the college-bound students you’ve bonded with? This is the best idea I found when it was my turn to do this, and I’ve used it for younger siblings, too, when it was their turn to leave.

The Best Present Ever For College-Bound Teens
So what is it already, you might be wondering. Well, the basic idea is to get a container and fill it with stuff they will need. Sounds simple, right? It is in principle, and you can get most things you might want to include from one place. Stores like Target or Bed Bath and Beyond carry a lot of merchandise to the scale of the average dorm-room, and in the late summer/early fall it’s readily available. And then you can add some special personalized extras, if you want to.

Find out the student’s favorite color scheme, if you don’t already know it, and use that when you choose items. You can put in more or less items, and more or less expensive ones, depending on your budget and on how close you are to each particular teen.

What To Include
First you need the container. A shower caddy works really well since it’s definitely a necessity in most dorms, where the bathrooms are shared. Get a bigger or smaller one depending on what you plan to put in. You could use a sturdy laundry bag or a mesh bag for washing delicates, if you prefer, but that’s harder to wrap and put a bow on!

The contents are the really fun part. Start with practical things, like a pop-up laundry bag and one or two small mesh bags for washing delicates. A roll or two of quarters will be very much appreciated if the laundry facilities are coin operated. You can include bath items like containers of special scented soap with a loofah or special sponge. A small whiteboard and/or bulletin board for the dorm-room door is useful, with appropriate pens and eraser, or stick pins. Don’t forget the blue tack or whatever you find (that won’t damage the paint) for sticking prized posters and pennants to the walls. A small flashlight comes in handy at night or during a power outage. Include a small toolkit, a mending kit, assorted bandaids, antiseptic cream, a small pair of scissors, a spot cleaner for her party dress and anything else that might come in handy late in an emergency or late night when the student store is closed.

Wander around the store and see what else appeals to you that would be small and useful. If it isn’t useful, don’t buy it. Space will be at a premium! And don’t include a scented or any kind of candle, tempting though it may be–it will probably be on the dorm’s forbidden list.

If you want to get fancy and spend a little more, a digital picture frame might be highly prized. See if you can get some pictures of your teen and his friend to put in it as a starter pack… and to make sure it’s working properly. A Starbucks card or a gift card for the university’s student store is another possibility. Even though pretty much everyone has a cell phone with an alarm on it these days, a small colorful alarm clock might be appreciated as a back-up. Get creative and have fun with your choices.

A personalized gift is always special, and this is a great send-off gift. Fill it with fun and useful surprises and watch their faces light up as they unwrap their grown-up goodie bag. You’ll know you’ve done your part to help your favorite college-bound teens be well-supplied for their new college life.

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9 Responses to A Perfect Gift For Your Favorite College-Bound Teens…

  1. Robine says:

    Brings back such memories of me going off to university. My parents sent me a care package once of a rice cooker – filled with cookies! Cookies are long gone of course but I still use the rice cooker (18 years later!!)

  2. What a clever idea. I love all the suggestions of what to include in the basket or shower caddy.

    • Dr. Dorine says:

      I can’t take credit for the idea, I’m afraid. I don’t remember where I first heard about it, but the shower caddies I gave away definitely got very enthusiastic responses.

  3. What great advice. Wish that my parents had thought of such things, not that I would have been receptive to such a gift – we lived in a different age(and a different culture (the UK)). And I was such a rebel in those days. But it’s such great advice. Thanks for the piece.

    • Dr. Dorine says:

      You, a rebel? I never would have guessed, Caitriona! On the other side of the spectrum, my very practical husband (who went to Cambridge in the UK and was the practical type even back) says he would have welcomed a basketful of items which he then would not have had to purchase himself! Thanks for your comment, Catriona.

  4. This is a very special idea Dorine! When off to live away from home for the first time, we don’t have the experience to realize all the things we will need and this gift certainly goes a long way to filling a lot of them. Thanks for the share!

    • Dr. Dorine says:

      I wish I could claim the idea ss my own, but alas I read it somewhere years back. In all the excitement of leaving for college, I think it’s not on their radar that they can’t just go to mom’s medicine cabinet and grab a band-aid or a needle and thread to sew on a button. The most prized item a few years back was a roll of quarters for the laundry!

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