Gifts for College Dorms

August 22, 2013    |    By +
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What’s bigger than a breadbox, but barely? A college dorm room. The average dorm room is about 12 feet by 19 feet, according to But remember, that space is split between two, or even three, students, if the students are tripled (and yes, this does happen to freshmen). It’s hard to make a space merely 200 square feet or so feel comfortable. Yet the right decor and accessories can help soften the environment, making the most of it. Think bright accents, compact designs and on-trend motifs. If you are shopping for a gift for a college student, I’ve come up with some ideas for his or her dorm room. These won’t make a college dorm more spacious, but at least your loved ones will feel like they are living large.

Clear shelf clutter. Students can banish sloppy stacks of books and instead group them neatly using these record bookends (set of two, $40). They are handmade by an artist, Jeff Davis, who upcycles real vinyl records, bonding them to steel frames and turning them into sturdy bookends.


Soften a harsh, impersonal environment. A cashmere throw blanket ($299) instantly raises the comfort and luxury level. It covers ugly metal bed frames, wards off the late-night studying chill, and is personalized with initials, so their roommate can’t glom onto it.



Create a zone. These rugged, yet urbane, headphones ($149.95) allow students to listen to music, class notes or podcasts without disturbing their roomies.



Avoid writer’s block. Sometimes, students need to take a break and bust out with stress-relieving antics. I recall a naked trumpeter, but that was during finals week. For the rest of the year, a portable ping pong set ($39.95) should suffice.


Stay focused. Caffeine is the ultimate college accessory. Make sure your giftee gets enough of this essential nutrient with the right coffee cup. English and theater majors would enjoy the Shakespearean insults mug ($11.99) below, and try a mustache mug for hipster guys or a shark attack mug for the marine science student.


Guilt trip. Lastly, what should you give a son or daughter who never calls, never writes, never texts? A friendly reminder. The Call Your Mother Pillow ($98.95) should do the trick.


 For more going away to college guidance, check out our Dorm Checklist that will make sure your Frosh has everything he or she needs to succeed. Now, if they would only do their own laundry!

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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.