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Laura Claypool / Her Campus

Hack the Holidays with these College Essentials!

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

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With the winter holidays on their way, here are some savvy holiday gift essentials for your fellow college students; these items cover every category, ranging from planning and organization to decoration and practical use.

*Disclaimer: This article seeks to provide suggestions regarding potential holiday shopping essentials for college students. Most of the products mentioned are available via Amazon, but this article is not meant to advertise the product or Amazon as an online vender. Please be aware that depending on the difference in read date and publication date, the prices or availability of some products may vary. Additionally, it’s important to note that this is an opinion piece and does not represent the preferences of all college students.*

Room Decoration!

My not–so–guilty, but very real obsession!

Room decoration is so important. It makes your dorm feel like a home instead of some room a stranger used to live in, and I find that dorm decorations can be a great reflection of your personality, creativity, and preferences. Whether your dorm is minimalist, cluttered, empty, or jam–packed, you can never go wrong with these room decoration essentials — for yourself or all of your college peers!

String Lights with Photo Clips

These are a must have for college students, as they really give any college dorm a homey feel.

For less than ten dollars, lighten up any dorm; decorate your walls with twinkling lights and photos that let you reminisce about the past or motivate you toward your future goals!

LED Marquee Letter Lights

For less than ten dollars, you can get a letter that represents you! While the classic is to get the first letter of your first or last name, personally, I prefer to get a letter symbolic of a word or event. For example, as opposed to ‘C’ for Cheryl, I may opt for ‘D’ for “Dream” or ‘U’ for “U got this!”

Mist Humidifier with Night Light (Mini Size)

I love multifunctional items, which is why I love this night light humidifier; it’s especially nice when winter heating in dorms makes the air very dry. While it’s a little pricier, this gift is still below twenty dollars, making it a relatively affordable holiday gift for Secret Santa events or a treat for yourself.

Organization & Planning!

Next up on our list is for those who, like me, enjoy organizing and planning things out. I consider organizing to be one of my hobbies (not kidding!).

Cascading Wall Organizer

For approximately twelve dollars, you can purchase a hanging wall organizer with six removable file folder pockets. This is a great item to help you organize paper clutter, whether it’s notes from tests, personal letters, or journal pages. 

However, from my personal experience, most people opt for digital note taking options and no longer use pencil and paper in classes. Therefore, this wall organizer may not be as useful to some as others.

Removable Dry Erase White Board Weekly Planner

Less than ten dollars for a cheap, high–quality dry erase white board! This would be an amazing gift for those who enjoy writing their weekly schedules. Plus, if you treat it well enough, it can last for quite a while! This is a charming item, though it’s become less popular because of the rise of Google Calendar and other planning applications.

Adulting NotePad (To Do List)

At less than six dollars, this is perhaps the cheapest item in this article. The adulting notepad is a great place to start writing your daily tasks or getting used to checklists and to-do lists — with their numerous benefits!

Practical Items!

Finally, and the best for last, are the practical items! I’m sure we can all agree college is a stressful time, and sometimes, you gotta save time where you can by buying functional things.

Three Drawer Medium Cart

This cart really comes in handy due to its storage ability, low price (fifteen dollars!), and the fact that it has wheels! In cramped dorms, you sometimes need a little extra storage space to keep yourself organized, and having a cute mobile cart does wonders.

Vinyl Fitted Mattress Protector

Yes, a fitted mattress cover. I know this sounds odd, but trust me, these are so great to use. Depending on the mattress supplied by your college, you may experience the following: waking up with your bedsheets on the floor or in a scrambled mess, jumping on your bed excited to sleep only to have your bed sheets slipping all over the place, and so on. A mattress protector is the perfect way to prevent all of these issues and to make an old mattress feel new!

Bed Rest Pillow

This gift could be considered dorm decor, but a sherpa bed rest pillow is both adorable and functional. No more nights propping yourself against a cold hard wall when you have a bed rest pillow!

Command Hooks

You can’t college without Command hooks! Whether you’re hanging up a sign or your towel, Command hooks are extremely practical in any college dorm setting. 

Clothing Hangers

If you have clothes, you need hangers. While it’s possible to stuff all of your belongings into the drawers or cabinets provided to you, for the sake of saving space (and your fancier clothes!), get hangers. They’re a real space and clothing saver!

An alternative to purchasing any of the above mentioned products is to create one yourself. While this option is more time-consuming, it makes the end product more personal and tailored to what’s best for you. 

For example, if you want to include a habit tracker on your to–do list, or you have a weekly math quiz that you want to include in your calendar for the entire semester, I’d recommend using a Google Docs or Google Sheets. These applications allow you to customize to your needs (not to mention, they’re free!)

Even the practical gifts on this list can be created, given the proper tools and enough determination (not to mention creativity)!

Wishing all college students and their families, friends, and peers the best during this holiday season!

Cheryl Chang

U Penn '24

Cheryl is an adjective. It describes someone whose always bubbly and nice, cheerful and optimistic. Additionally, Cheryl characterizes someone who is a dreamer and a believer. In fact, Cheryl lives by the motto "Anything is possible as long as you believe" by Peter Pan (i think).