Speaking as a college freshman, I could name lots of practical and creative gifts that would greatly improve my college life. For starters, dictionaries and thesauruses are great. Does your freshman already know what they’re interested in? If it’s chemistry, buy them a chemistry dictionary; if it’s music, buy them a music dictionary. If they’ve already up to their nose in dictionaries, consider other books dealing with the history of their preferred subject or interesting facts. If your student cooks for themselves, a (simple!) recipe book is a good idea. Consider compiling your own family recipes for a sentimental touch. No clue what their interests are? How about a Border’s or Amazon.com gift card?
Going along with the food and beverage line, homemade food is always appreciated. Consider buying gourmet coffee or tea, or a gift card to Starbucks if there is one near their campus. Thermoses and water bottles are extremely handy in a college student’s life. For an extra surprise, fill a thermos or water bottle with small pieces of favorite candies.
Groceries and toiletries are necessary items in everyone’s life, but you first enter college, buying these items can be a daunting task. Make it a little easier with a gift card to Target, Whole Foods, CVS, or any other similar stores. Again, make sure your freshman has access to these stores.
Maintaining a clean dorm room is tough, especially during stressful times like midterms and finals season. Help them out with a small, hand-held vacuum and disinfectant. Air freshener is also a must; ease allergies with an air freshener that also helps exterminate allergens.
What about room decorations? There’s always a spot on the wall for another poster of a favorite movie or band. Calendars and planners are great for organization and can brighten a room. If you shop soon enough, you could even ship them a “Christmas-tree-in-a-box” that can be put together and even decorated with ornaments. It can even be taken back down and reused for the rest of their college Christmas seasons.
No matter what you decide on, just remember: it’s never the size that counts; it’s always the thought and care put into giving.