12 Items You Definitely Don’t Need for College But Should Totally Bring Anyway

When it comes to packing up for college, there are certain things we all know to bring. Shower caddies, hot plates, shower slides and closet organization hacks are among them. But what about when it comes to the fun but non-essential items?

When creating a home away from home you want to make the space your own. You also want to ensure you’re capturing those memories and living the college life to the fullest. After all, you only leave home for that dorm-room living once. That experience is also paramount when a parent or friend wants to come up with the perfect dorm room gift.

That’s why we’ve collected some ideas on non-essential essentials that any freshman should consider packing before they enter that next fun and exciting stage of their lives. From décor to entertainment and everything in between, here are 12 items you definitely don’t need for college but should totally bring anyway.


1. A Silly Game


Everyone wants to make friends and attend parties when you get to college, but sometimes breaking the ice can be hard. Having a silly but entertaining game with accessible rules and a simple premise can be that ice breaker. Pack a game like What Do You Meme before you head off and keep it in your back pocket in case of an awkward situation.

dorm room gifts what do you meme game

What Do You Meme TikTok Edition

Price: $19.99 (orig. $24.99) 20% OFF
Buy Now

2. A Door Stop


Want to let everyone know they can stop by your dorm room and say hi? A handy door stop can help. Install one during your first party or social rather than awkwardly propping up the door, instantly inviting others in. The best part is these particular door stops come in a three-pack, so when someone says they wish they had thought of that, you’ll have a couple of instant welcome gifts, too.

dorm room gifts door stop

3 Pack Door Stopper Rubber Door Stop

Price: $6.79 (orig. $9.98) 32% OFF
Buy Now

3. Those Wine Glasses From Love is Blind


Want an instant talking point while looking fancy AF? These wine glasses ought to do it. They’re inspired by the famous wine glasses from Netflix’s popular dating series, but they’re also super practical. You can drink fancy wine (or really anything) and not worry about the glasses shattering since they’re made from stainless steel. Other people also won’t know how much you’re actually imbibing, which may take some of the pressure off on those nights when you secretly just want to drink water.

dorm room gifts shatter proof wine glasses

PG Stainless Steel Stem Wine Glass

Price: $44.99
Buy Now

4. An Instant Camera For Fun Memories


Thanks to our phones, we all have instant access to a camera. But how many of us have instant access to printed photos? A Fujimax Instax Mini is always fun because you can create instant guest books, wall collages or mini-fridge art with your new friends. This camera is also small and easily transportable if you want to bring it to someone else’s party. Plus, we like the built-in selfie mirror that helps you always get that perfect snap.

dorm room gifts instant camera

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11

Price: $68.62 (orig. $76.95) 11% OFF
Buy Now

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera

Price: $139.95 (orig. $199.95) 30% OFF
Buy Now

5. A Magnetic Dart Board


Do you need a dart board on the back of your door or your dorm room wall? Of course not. But will it provide some entertainment the next time you have a couple of people over or want a study break? Absolutely. This dartboard offers double the fun thanks to its reverse bullseye design. That means you can use it for challenges, drinking games or just to pass some time while hanging out in your new adult space.

dorm room gifts dart board

Magnetic Dart Board

Price: $26.99
Buy Now

6. A Portable Hammock


Most campuses are known for sprawling lawns and lush trees, so why not take advantage of that? Whether you’re looking for a serene place to study or a shaded spot to take a nap, a portable hammock is lightweight, easy to assemble and comfy as heck. The Wise Owl hammock is also completely affordable, and it holds up to 300 pounds.

dorm room gifts portable hammock

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Hammock

Price: $34.95 (orig. $37.81) 8% OFF
Buy Now

7. A Slackline Kit


Alternatively, if you want to use those beautiful campus grounds for some exercise, consider investing in a slackline kit. You can attach it between two trees and practice your balance, or invite others to get their tightrope walking skills on too. The flybold safely carries up to 300 pounds, and it folds away compactly when you’re done.

dorm room gifts slack line

Flybold Slackline Kit

Price: $56.99 (orig. $69.97) 19% OFF
Buy Now

8. An Alarm Clock on Wheels


Late nights studying and hanging out with friends are a staple of any good college experience. However, they also make getting out of bed the following day harder than it should be. That’s where an alarm clock on wheels could be a lifesaver. Program it and force yourself out of bed at the rise of dawn, ensuring you actually make it to class on time.

dorm room gifts alarm clock with wheels

CLOCKY Alarm Clock on Wheels

Price: $36.99 (orig. $44.99) 18% OFF
Buy Now

9. A Bed Tent


Look, bringing an eye mask and ear plugs to deal with loud roommates is a fine strategy, but if you truly want to create more privacy for yourself, why not bring along a bed tent? The Alvantor is made from soft, breathable fabric and features pop-up, flexible rods so that you can easily put it up and take it down as needed.

dorm room gifts bed tent

Alvantor Bed Canopy Bed Tents

Price: $115.99
Buy Now

10. String Lights


Okay so string lights are a little more common these days as we all look for better lighting options, but they’re also something many college students are prone to overlook. When in doubt, always bring them or pack them as a dorm room gift. Not only do they create a softer lighting for those times you just want to Netflix and chill, but they’ll also make you feel like you’re in a cozier and personalized space.

dorm room gifts string lights

Twinkle Star Copper String Lights

Price: $12.99 (orig. $17.99) 28% OFF
Buy Now

11. A Ramen Cooker


Sure, you’ve packed an electric kettle for those late-night and early-morning snack attacks. But if you genuinely want the best ramen experience (a rite of passage for college kids), a ramen bowl is where it’s at. This set comes with chopsticks and a microwavable bowl, so you can have hot and delicious noodles anytime a craving hits. This kit also gets bonus points because you can use it for soup, cereal, oatmeal and anything else you want to throw in the microwave.

dorm room gifts ramen bowl

Ramen Cooker Ramen Bowl Set

Price: $15.99
Buy Now

12. A Fancy Water Bottle


Staying hydrated is super important when you’re doing all of that studying and socializing. Unfortunately, most of us forget to take water throughout the day. That’s where bringing a fancy water bottle may motivate you to remember to sip in between classes and social engagements. The Hydracy holds 32 ounces of water and features an infuser basket so you can flavor your drink any way you’d like. It also comes with a cooler sleeve to keep it cool and condensation-free.

dorm room gifts fancy water bottle

Hydracy Fruit Infuser Water Bottle

Price: $21.97 (orig. $27.97) 21% OFF
Buy Now

Find All the Best Back-to-School Sales of 2022 in One Place