The transition to college is often a bittersweet one, filled with potential, excitement, and maybe a touch of apprehension. For most students, it also marks the first experience living away from home. Whether your student is nervous about the change or not, it's nice to send them off with a touch of home. A customized gift hamper will provide the comforts of home away from home.
Laundry day: First, get a sturdy laundry hamper and fill it with everything your new student will need to make their now home comfortable, starting with laundry supplies. A durable plastic hamper is a good choice. If the laundromat is a walk or a drive away, however, opt for a lightweight fabric hamper with a shoulder strap. Then, fill the base of the hamper with dark bath towels in their favorite color. Place travel-size versions of laundry detergent, fabric softener, and stain remover in a plastic bag and place them near the top of your completed gift hamper. Toss in a few rolls of quarters, a book by their favorite author, and a laminated list of laundry how-tos to help them avoid catastrophe on laundry day.
Bed to bath: It's fair to assume your student will need some new bedding to fit the extra-long beds in most dorm rooms. Stack a full set of extra-long twin-size sheets on top of the bath towels to complete the base of your gift hamper. Add large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion to cut down on trips to the store.
Study tools: Amidst the flurry of parties, new friends, and dorm floor socials, studying may be the last thing on your student's mind. Leave them with no excuse to not hit the books by stocking their hamper with plenty of lined notebooks and pens for lecture note-taking or a portable USB flash drive if they prefer to take notes on a laptop or tablet. A pair of ear buds will keep them focused at the library. Place all of these in a durable backpack and sneak it inside the hamper.
Dinnertime: For most college students, the days of mom's home-cooked meals are over. While you may not be able to cook up comfort food for your student every night, the right tools can help them make decent meals with limited resources. Packs of stackable, microwave-safe dinnerware would be a welcome gift, while a set of basic cooking utensils, a sauce pan, and a fry pan should get them by if they live in their own apartment. A gift certificate to a nearby restaurant would provide a welcome break from a diet heavy on Ramen noodles and boxed cereal or cafeteria food. A grocery store gift card is a good way for them to be able to pick up exactly what they want or need.
Dorm decor: Everyone needs a personalized space of their own, particularly when they're living away from home. A few decorative pieces can make all the difference in a bland dorm room. A band or movie poster or a funky desk lamp would be a good finishing touch to the perfect gift hamper.