Gift Ideas: College Survival Kit

One of my nieces made the transition from high school to college this year. Unlike many young people at this stage in life, she wasn’t dying to get out of her parents house and move far away. So, instead of “going off to college,” she stayed put living at home and started school at a local university.

For her birthday (end of July, so perfect timing), I put together a College Survival Kit for her. Since she opted to stay at home, and already had a fully set up bedroom, there were many of the traditional college student gifts that just wouldn’t apply to her (mini fridge, tv, extra long twin size bedding, fun chair, etc.). Instead, I focused this gift on the essentials she would need to survive the commuter life.

Here’s what I included:

  • Starbucks coffee drink – I opted for this to fit my basket budget and because I know she likes these, but you could also go for a coffee gift card, their favorite k-cups or a cute travel mug
  • Power bank – this is a must have for any technology addicted college student; charge it up and take it on the go to recharge your phone or tablet as needed without having to hunt down a free outlet. The one I purchased is no longer available on Amazon, but I also really like Anker products and they offer a number of options at a variety of price points
  • Planner – like most high schools provide for their students, this is an essential to help keep a student organized; between class schedules, assignments, campus events and work, there’s a lot going on
  • Pens – to go with the Planner and notebooks (below); I opted to get a set with a variety of colors. Research shows that using colors while note-taking, and then using the same color to take a test, actually helps with remembering the information
  • Notebooks – for taking notes and/or doodling in less engaging classes
  • Post-it notes – I’m always a fan of these – they can be used as makeshift tabs to mark a place in a textbook, they’re great for passing notes or can even be used in a planner when there’s a lot going on in a given day; as a fun bonus, purchase a couple of different sizes of these (in different colors, of course)
  • Gum – similarly to note-taking and completing a test in the same color of pen, research shows that chewing gum while studying, and then chewing the same flavor of gum during a test, can help students better recall the information
  • Tylenol – headaches are bound to happen with late nights, studying and stress
  • Hand sanitizer – so many doors, desks and public bathrooms with germs abounding. Help protect your favorite college student

What’s great about this basket (and really any gift basket) is that you can customize to your budget. Some other ideas that’d be appropriate to include are:

  • Hat, sweatshirt or mug of their new school – if you don’t live local to the school, these items are typically available online as well
  • Gas gift card – lots of driving!
  • Snack or energy bars – think Cliff or Kind bars, nut packs, etc.
  • Reusable water bottle or tumbler
  • Reusable straw – this is a nice telescoping one I purchased on Amazon

Good luck putting together your basket, and remember, college students are usually broke so they’ll appreciate anything!

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