Making dorm kits

While preparing to bring Second Daughter to college bright and early tomorrow morning, I have been scurrying around making her a couple of ‘dorm essentials’ kits. I’m sure there are tons of different things you could include. But here’s what I came up with.


First is the dorm snack kit. The object of this kit is to give my daughter a few healthy foods she can eat in her dorm room on those days/nights when she is too busy studying to head out to the cafeteria. I used a shoebox-sized storage bin. In it I packed:

–energy bars
–small jar of peanut butter
–ready-to-eat soup with a pop-off top
–tea bags
Homemade granola
–a coffee mug
–fork, spoon, and napkins
–two plastic food containers that can be used to warm soup or store leftovers. I’ll also be sending along yogurt, cheese sticks, and juice boxes for the fridge.

Medical Kit

The other kit that I put together is a medical kit, so that my daughter won’t have to run to the store when she is not feeling well. In a small makeup bag I packed:

–bandaids in several sizes
–antibiotic ointment
–nail clipper
–cough drops

We’re planning to dump everything off in her dorm room, then run to Target for a few other odds and ends she still needs. Hopefully these goodies will help our girl feel just a little more at home and settled in her new digs. Anyone else done kits like these before. What kinds of things did you pack?

(And here’s another fun tidbit. After we get Second Daughter all settled in, John and I are taking a day for ourselves to celebrate our anniversary while the kids hang out with my folks. Heavenly!!)


  1. I had a college age babysitter this summer. I cook with my crockpot almost every day and she said that is exactly what she needs for her dorm room – a small crock pot. Not sure if it would work for everyone but it might be a nice break from cafeteria food occasionally. Perfect for chips and dip to snack on also.

  2. I am still about 7 years away from packing a dorm room kit. Thankfully.

    I remember wishing my mom had bought pads and tampons for me when I first got to college. But it was a good experience having to buy them for myself. From a store. From a clerk. From a male clerk. Who I was sure thought I was a freak for needing them…

    I got over that quickly, though.

  3. We’re taking my sister to college tomorrow and I packed up a snack kit full of food. On her next trip home I’ll have to make her another healthy snack kit with other goodies like a mug and such. When I left for college (years ago!) my uncle made me a tool kit. Of course, I thought “why do I need a hammer, etc” but everything in it ( extension cords, screw drivers, duck tape, etc.) came in handy. Now when friends and family graduate I make them up a tool kit, too.

  4. I’m usually a lurker here, but I just had to step out of lurkerdom for a moment to share the best possible thing you can have in a college dormitory: quarters!
    I know that might sound strange, but I vividly remember how highly sought after quarters were during my college experience. Especially by the end of the week, when everyone needs to do laundry or wants to hit up a vending machine for a late-night Coke, those quarters might as well have been made out of gold! =)

  5. A nice family friend made a “medical kit” for my husband when he went to college, and he still had it when I met him, years later! What a thoughtful thing to do.

  6. I remember how wonderful it was to get care packages from my parents. My mother found serving-size packages of tuna and crackers, and she also sent nuts and homemade jerky. Protein helps a lot when you’re pulling an all-nighter.

    I had a hot pot in my room — basically an electric teapot — and I could use that for soup, tea, cocoa, and Ramen. My friend had a microwave in her room, and we spent many nights eating instant mac & cheese.

    My father also packed up a starter tool kit for me when I went to college: a screwdriver that contained both Phillips and standard heads, a small hammer, wrench, needle-nose pliers, and a measuring tape with a level built in. That little kit came in handy many times.

    And, I worked summers at a cafe that served a kind of tea called mate (mah-tay, but I can’t get the accent mark to work). My mother convinced them to give her a stash for my care packages. It has mateine rather than caffeine, which gave me more energy and didn’t make me crash like coffee would. It also didn’t aggravate my stomach like too much coffee does… I became very popular when the people living nearby found out I had a ready supply of something that worked best and cost less than the coffee shop!

  7. We’re packing for Headless Girl, too. I can’t list the things we’ve packed for her-it would be it”s won post! Your kits are great, though. I did buy her a case of her favorite green tea and a case of fruit snacks (her fave) to have on hand.

    Good for you and John for getting away. We are too!

  8. These are terrific ideas Mary! Thanks!! I’ll have to do that when Quinn heads to college..which is coming very soon!!

  9. awww…. i don’t have kids (yet). but, this made me think of the little things like that my mom did for me when i went off to college. made me all misty-eyed. 🙂

    hi… i’m a new reader, btw. can’t remember exactly how i found your blog, but i’ve enjoyed reading it. 🙂

  10. Since our first born is now at the Naval Academy our experience was a little different. He showed up on Induction Day with one envelope of important papers and his basic toiletries and that was it. On parent’s weekend he gave us his civilian clothes to bring home and also told us he that all of his toiletries were issued so he could have shown up with only the clothes on his back -and not even that!

    We have sent little care packages – power bars, homemade cookies (which are devoured immediately by my son and any friends in the vicinity), lint brushes, Shout Wipes, magic eraser sponges, handy wipes. Staying clean and keeping his room clean are two of his major concerns – not your typical college experience. It sure will be fun when I can shop for the cute little college dorm things for our next in line. For now I’m relegated to the cleaning aisle 🙂

  11. I am doing this for the third and last time at the moment too. Extension cord, toolkit, and most NB Mother’s guide to survival which I have been writing for him in recent weeks. He keeps suggesting things I need to add re different washing things, how to use left-overs, etc etc. Here in the UK, he will have to cook his evening meal if he doesn’t eat out, so in the interests of economy, the book also has all the cheap and nutritious recipes we can think of.

  12. My dad tucked in a hammer, pliers, screwdriver.
    I thought they were a bit of overkill, until one morning in our suite, the toilet would not behave itself.

    Back then, to have a ‘man on the floor’ in the girl’s dorm was a major disruption of getting ready for classes or chapel, so I just fixed the toilet myself with the pliers.

    My dad was quite pleased to get the letter explaining my thanks.

  13. oh, that should say *Repair* man in the dorm

  14. I remember when I went to college that my Mom packed rolls of quarters for me (for laundry) and stamps which I really appreciated 🙂

    Happy Anniversary!

  15. One other thought would be to put a thermometer in with the medical kit. Have fun!

  16. How sweet and thoughtful, I especially like the medical kit. Great ideas! And yes, a thermometer would be a good addition and maybe a travel sized first aid guide or something (to tell if a fever is too high, or if other symptoms warrant a trip to the doc or if it can wait)

  17. Aww, you’re such a good mom. When I went off the college, my mom packed me a medicine bag too. One thing I found useful in addition to those meds was some of that Chloroseptic throat spray stuff that helps numb a sore throat. And in her snack kit, maybe a bottle of vitamins? Just in case the food in the cafeteria leaves something to be desired in terms of nutrition.
    P.S. Mary, I know you sent me well wishes maybe a few months ago and I wanted to let you know I am finally pregnant again. :o)

  18. OK, this may be something you’d do anyway, but setting the girl up with a good supply of feminine hygiene products is a good idea. When I was a freshman in college, it never failed that I’d be at the store to get my “supplies” and run into a bunch of cute guy-friends. That’s a recipe for embarrassment!

  19. When I went to college my dad gave me a leatherman (multi-utility tool), a small hammer, an assorted little jar of nails and a roll of duck tape and a tube of super glue in a small plastic bucket. EVERYthing in that bucket got used.

    I make everyone I know going to college a small cleaning kit. A small bottle of windex, clorox wipes, a roll of paper towels, a sponge and small scrub brush and a small thing of comet. Some things in a dorm are automatically cleaned, but for the little things and spills it’s nice to do it yourself.

  20. I loved reading this——-My son’s not leaving for college till next year and even at that, he’s talking living at home for 2 years while going to the local community college.

    BUT I gave coupons for “care” packages to 5 people and I’m waiting til I find out their college addresses to send them out! Thanks for more ideas.

    One that I didn’t see mentioned was those individual packages of powdered drink to add to water. The are small and easy to include.

  21. I love the medical kit idea. Tomorrow, I’m going to visit my niece who is a new college student and plan to pack one up to take with me. Thanks for the tips!

  22. This is one of my favorite things to do for “kids” leaving for college. A great thing to add to the medical kit is a cheap digital thermometer and covers for it. As a student it’s helpful to know if you have a temp before you haul your sorry self all the way across campus to the clinic.

    Also, another great medicine to add is Alka-Seltzer Plus – horrible tasting going down, BUT it provides instant relief!

  23. Erin D. (just out of college) says:

    at the risk of repeating things you already have, here’s what i found most useful:

    highlighters, sticky notes, paper clips (sticky notes are always useful to leave notes for roommates and important reminders stuck to a computer monitor. and it’s a true lifesaver to have a paper clip close by when you’re darting off to turn in a paper)

    umbrella, raincoat, galoshes (fairly obvious, but so important)

    a wall calendar over my desk where i could write and erase the month & days, with large squares to write my class schedule (at least until i got the routine down), test dates, meetings, holidays, birthdays… i can’t overstate what a HUGE help this was.

    tide stick/bleach pen.

    small vacuum/broom. girls shed SO much, and dorm floors are crumb magnets. there were forever roomates’ blonde hairs and cookie and chip crumbs on my clothes.

    a full length mirror. we had to buy one every year.

    a couple different sizes of book bag, depending on the day. sometimes i’d need an actual bookbag for 3 back-to-back classes, and sometimes all i’d need was a little Target tote bag (you know the ones they always have right out front with fifteen or twenty different prints and patterns) for classes with breaks in-between.

    also, of course, pads/tampons. cause who wants to run out unexpectedly and have to work in an emergency trip to the store on a busy day.

    hope i haven’t been too redundant. : ) good luck to you and your second!

  24. Connie Corey says:

    Tissues and feminine hygiene supplies.
    If you put a thermometer in, please get the kind that doesn’t contain mercury. If it breaks, it’s a problem to clean up. Some colleges no longer allow them anyway, just the digital kind.