Need gift suggestions for a college bound kid

Girl 2.0 is having first world problems. Christmas is approaching, followed quickly by her 18th birthday and high school graduation. 90% of the people who might fete her with gifts are perfectly normal*, and will give her cash, gift cards, or a car**, but there are weirdos who think that $ or equivalent aren’t appropriate gifts.

Between us, we’ve covered Christmas only. Her dad is giving a new laptop. Grandparents are giving a set of luggage and a nice coat***. She has bed and bath linens for the dorm. Honestly, other than maybe a laundry basket and some detergent, I’m at a loss for other suggestions for people who prefer to give a boxed gift.


(She will be living in the dormitory at a large university in a major urban area. No car for the first year, but plenty of access to public transit, taxis, Uber, whatever. I’ll be 3 hours away, and I have a network of old friends nearby to run to the rescue if there’s an immediate emergency - I do the same for their kids here at Hometown University.)

Maybe a new phone from someone who wants to give a higher-end gift? Otherwise, I wish there were a tactful way to suggest cash or gift cards…

*Totally my side of the family. We might be a bunch of antisocial weirdos, but we’re pragmatic!

**My stepdad. Not that a 1990 Cadillac is practical, but no one is sneezing at a free car and a year of insurance!

*** Back in the day, I received a nice set of American Tourister luggage and a classic wool trench coat from grandmothers for graduation. Damned if I’m not still using both, 31 years later. But that’s only 2 ideas, and I only needed gift ideas for 2 grandmas and an uncle. Daughter needs about 3× as many suggestions.

Sheets for a twin XL bed.
Closet organizer
High quality pillow
Shower flipflops
Portable shower caddy
Bathrobe, if she’s on a coed floor
Book “The Naked Roommate”
Microwave or mini frig, if allowed in the dorm
High quality backpack
Spirit wear for her new school!

Coffee maker. The lil’wrekkers favorite dorm room addition is an electric kettle. She and several others use it daily.

Gift cards to the nearest Starbucks/Caribou, low level restaurants, Target.
“Care Kits”: OTC meds (Tylenol/Advil), Band-Aids, pain patches or Tiger Balm, Neosporin, an extra set of ear buds, charging cord, box of granola bars, eye mask, mini sewing kit. Stuff you don’t think about needing, until you really need it.

Kettle and an Aeropress if she partakes of coffee.
Grocery gift cards
Small pocket projector and bluetooth speaker for movies or tv via streaming off the laptop.

The kid has a good bluetoothspeaker and adequate eyesight. Is a projector important? (Not being deliberately obtuse. I honestly don’t know.)

Shower supplies and small appliances are ideas that I can understand. A projector seems odd?
(But what do I know?)

And I can’t recommend spirit wear. The kid has style in spades. (On a literal Goodwill budget, she was voted best dressed in her senior class of 450. She wears sweats as pajamas only. And she will probably be the girliest girl at the state technical university, while making science and maths classes look easy.)

And yes, she already has a good scientific calculator.

Is a projector important? Not really but dorms tend to be petty small and wall/desk space are at a premium. If she enjoys movies and such it gives her a big screen tv without the real estate. Plus, she can use it for presentations in class (If she has to). Coffe maker? That would have been critical for me.

A kiss on the hand maybe quite continental
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend…

But actually, Gold jewellery is a traditional gift. 22k, not 9k. If she’s hungry, she can sell it: if she’s not hungry, it’s a gift she can keep.

And there’s another kind of gift card: a pre-paid data plan.

A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones, if she hasn’t already got that.

Also may be time to upgrade her old pair of skis, or something similar