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Best gifts to prep your high school grad's dorm room

When buying gifts for a college dorm, it's essential to consider the available living space. Compact appliances and space-saving items are perfect choices.

The 7 best dorm room gifts

After graduating high school, many people begin prepping for college. Many high school grads lack the essentials they’ll need for a comfortable college experience, such as appliances, shower gear and compact furniture. Stocking a dorm room can be pricey, so many college students rely on gifts from family members to help ease their financial burden.

Shop this article: SimpleHouseware Over-the-Door Hanging Shoe OrganizerMidea Double-Door Mini FridgeAfrog Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger.

Dorm gift considerations

  • Space: College dorms are often compact and may be shared with one or two roommates. Buy gifts that help college students save space, such as over-the-door organizers or totes that fit under a bed. When buying appliances, consider the height and width. Mini fridges and single-serve coffee machines are sure to be a hit.
  • Study time: College students spend many hours studying each day. Gifts that make studying easier and more comfortable will enhance their college experience. 
  • Convenience: Nowadays, many smart home devices are small enough to go unnoticed. A compact smart speaker lets them set alarms and reminders, check the weather and control other smart home devices. Smart plugs and light bulbs are an affordable way to modernize a dorm room, and they make it easy to turn lights off when they’re leaving in a rush.
  • Shower time: Most colleges have shared bathrooms and showers. These can be dirty and tend to hold bacteria. Shower shoes provide peace of mind when showering in a shared bathroom, as they won’t have to worry about mold or bacteria. Shower caddies make it easier to carry bathroom essentials.

Dorm room essentials

  • Furniture: Small couches and chairs are a must-have for any college student. When buying furniture for a dorm room, you’ll need to consider the available space in the room and the size of the hallways leading to the room. Tight turns and staircases add a layer of difficulty when transporting furniture to a dorm. If you buy a couch that requires assembly, it may be easier to take it to the room in pieces.
  • Entertainment: Compact Bluetooth speakers are an excellent gift, as they can be used in the dorm or taken to a friend’s room. Modern Bluetooth speakers have added features, such as customizable lighting or additional ports for charging a phone. 
  • Personal lighting: It’s unlikely that the person you’re shopping for will be on the same sleep schedule as their roommates. They’ll often study late into the night while their roommates sleep. A small desk lamp is an excellent way for them to complete homework or study for a test without disturbing their roommates.

How to make the most of your college dorm budget

Before buying gifts for their dorm, ask them what they already have and what their roommates are bringing. Most dorm rooms will only need one TV and couch, and you can save a ton of money if your roommate brings their own.

Hand-me-downs can help you save money as well. Check with the new graduate’s family members to see if they’re passing down a mini fridge or microwave before you go shopping.

Dorm gift FAQ

Q. Is dorm room internet fast enough for smart home devices?

A. In most cases, yes. Most entry-level smart home devices, such as smart plugs, speakers and light bulbs, don’t require lightning-fast internet. Still, it’s best to test the waters with affordable devices before breaking the bank on a flat-screen smart TV.

Q. How much does a household usually spend on dorm room essentials?

A. Per the National Retail Federation, the average household spends a little over $1,100. Still, you can easily spend much more if you lack appliances, electronics and furniture.

Q. How do you determine the right size for appliances and furniture?

A. Ask the new graduate if you can tour the campus with them. Bring measuring tape and measure the room and hallways to determine an ideal size for couches, chairs and beds. If the room has built-in counters, measure them to determine how much space they’ll have for a microwave or coffee maker.

Best gifts for high school grads

SimpleHouseware Over-the-Door Hanging Shoe Organizer

This clear shoe organizer helps you save space while making it easy to find shoes for the day. It has 24 pockets and comes in five colors, including clear, black and turquoise. It’s easy to hang, and the pockets are durable.

Sold by Amazon

Amazon Echo Dot 5th Gen

This is one of the easiest ways to turn your dorm into a smart home on a budget. It pairs with many smart home devices, letting you control your lights, TV and more with voice commands. Amazon enhanced the speakers on the fifth-generation model, letting you enjoy crisp-sounding music.

Sold by Amazon

Adidas Adilette Shower Slides

Many college dorms have shared showers, which are known for bacteria. These shower slides let you clean up without worrying about foot fungus. They come in various sizes and colors.

Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Midea Double-Door Mini Fridge

This is an excellent gift for those who haven’t yet stocked up on dorm-room appliances. It’s roughly 33 inches tall and 19 inches wide, making it perfect for compact spaces. It’s available in black, stainless steel and white.

Sold by Amazon

Amazon Smart Plug

This affordable gadget lets you turn lamps and small appliances on and off with voice commands. Its small size prevents it from blocking other outlets. It’s compatible with Alexa.

Sold by Amazon

Afrog Desk Lamp with Wireless Charger

This stylish lamp has easy-to-use touch controls. It has five lighting modes and brightness settings. You can use it to charge your phone or iPad wirelessly.

Sold by Amazon

ComfortSpa Reading Pillow Bed Wedge

This comfortable pillow is perfect for late-night study sessions. The soft, velour cover is removable and machine-washable. It has side pockets so that you can keep your devices nearby.

Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out


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Cody Stewart writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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