College: It's the most exciting time of a teenager's life, but for you, dear parents? Wait. Sorry, what did you say? We couldn't hear you through all your blubbering.
We get it. It's an incredibly emotional time for you, saying goodbye to your sweetums or munchkin or whatever you call your kid. Suddenly, your home has turned into an empty nest — particularly if you have one child or it's your last child heading off to college — and you aren't sure what the heck to even do with yourself. Plus, it's incredibly stressful for you! Mainly: Are you sending your kid off to college with all the essentials?
Yes, you can turn to premade and perfectly curated care packages, but what's the fun in that? What makes care packages so important and meaningful for students heading off to college is how you — Mom and Dad — personalize them. Remember when you headed off to college and how homesick you were? They'll go through a similar ride, so be sure to not only send them off with their favorite foods and those essential dorm items, but don't be afraid to throw in a few small sentimental gifts too. They may cringe a little bit, but in the end, they'll love it. Trust us.
Ahead, we’ve gathered all the essential dorm items, from bedding and appliances and bathroom and kitchen items. Then, when you're done, toss in their favorite snacks, family photos or whatever other items that'll mean something to them.
Cooling & hypoallergenic memory foam pillow
"What? $50 for a pillow?!" Yes, it's steep, but it's so worth it. When the dorm is likely the size of a shoebox, the least you can do is ensure their bed is extra-comfortable.
Cooling and hypoallergenic memory foam pillow, $49.99 at Amazon
Urban Outfitters has a ton of trendy, affordable duvet sets — and this particular design is great for both guys and gals.
Distressed check duvet set, $59.99 at Urban Outfitters
This isn't your typical laundry basket. This pop-up laundry hamper snaps open and closed and can carry two whole loads of laundry — perfect for when your student goes weeks without doing laundry. (Hey, we've all been there.)
Snapbasket laundry caddy, $19.99 at CleverMade
The bathroom essentials
Who could ever forget the experience that is showering in the dorms? The flip-flops, the shower caddy, the lugging around of all your bathroom products.
Showaflops are unique in that they have holes for draining excess water and antimicrobials that help protect against bacteria and odors.
Showaflops in geode, $27 at Showaflops
Emme's toiletry bag has a pretty print that will fit right in.
Emme original cosmetic and toiletry bag, $49.99 at Emme
And the Sanno mesh shower caddy tote is a no-frills, totally functional, reasonably priced caddy that'll get the job done — and you won't feel guilty tossing it at the end of the school year.
Of course, don't forget to grab the other essentials, including a bathroom trash can, toilet paper, bath towels and bath mats.
Sanno mesh shower caddy tote, $9.99 at Amazon
You really think your kid is going to clean his or her dorm room frequently — or at all? Dream on. The least they can do is spray the room down before you come to visit, so equip them with an odor-eliminating freshener that's 100 percent plant-based and toxin-free.
Air + Fabric Freshener in lavender blossom, $7 – $12 at Grow Fragrance
Alarm clock, Bluetooth speaker & headphones
Kill two birds with one stone with this iHome color-changing alarm clock and Bluetooth speaker.
iHome Bluetooth color-changing dual alarm clock, $49.95 at Amazon
If you want to give them something with a little more oomph, then opt for the Tivoli Audio Bluetooth speaker. Not only will this fit right with their dorm decor (it comes in seven different colors), but it's portable and weather-resistant too.
Pal BT, $199.99 at Tivoli Audio
Not only are these headphones reasonably priced (less than $40), but they're also highly rated — with over 15,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating on Amazon. Hell, we might also purchase a pair while we have this tab open…
Mpow Bluetooth headphones, $35.99 at Amazon
A water filtration pitcher, a trash can, a microwave, a mini fridge, a toaster: These are all much-needed kitchen items. But the one your kid cares the most about? A coffee maker. This single-serve Keurig will get the job done.
Keurig K15 single-serve K-Cup pod coffee maker, $79.99 at Target
A desk lamp
Waking up in the early afternoon, going to class, late-night studying: It's a typical day for a college kid. On nights when they aren't up for the trek to the on-campus library, give them the option to stay in the dorm room to study with a desk lamp that'll also help keep their pens, pencils, highlighters and sticky notes organized.
Organizer task lamp, $18.99 at Target
Dinnerware & utensils
Their dinnerware set really needs to have one very important quality: that it's microwave-safe. This set from Amazon is just that. Plus, it's a reasonable price. Also, don't forget to grab flatware!