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Best gifts for dorm rooms

Have a college student on your gifting list this season? Here are a few ideas to help make dorm rooms comfortable, relaxing, and productive spaces.
Written by Nate Delesline III, Staff Writer on

America had nearly 20 million college students in late 2020. Of those students, about 4 million reside in university dorms or housing. 

Those students may share spaces ranging from less than 100 square feet to about 200 square feet. While the size and setup of living arrangements vary widely, space is usually tight. That means you should choose gifts for college students with extra care.

If you know a student in or headed to college, keep reading for great gift ideas at two price points: under $25 and under $50. And if you're a student yourself, we have some ideas on how you can treat yourself for free. 

Gifts for $25 or less

A rectangular light therapy lamp

Know someone with a dark dorm? This LED-based lamp creates light that mimics sunlight, minus the potentially harmful UV waves. It has adjustable brightness, a timer, and a compact, square design. Experts say that millions of people experience seasonal affective disorder, and light therapy can help.

a bamboo lap desk on folding legs

Almost 40% of Americans admit they regularly work in bed. For students in dorms, that number is probably higher. Consider gifting this foldable, adjustable lap desk to make those twin extra long beds better workspaces. It's made of natural bamboo and has a storage drawer. It's also great for reading or eating in bed.

A modern-looking charger charges multiple smart devices at once

Ninety-six percent of Americans 18-29 years old have a smartphone, so nearly everyone will appreciate this gift. It can simultaneously charge a smartphone, smartwatch, smart pencil, and wireless earbuds. It's compatible with Apple and Samsung products. This many-in-one charger will eliminate tangles of cables, adapters, or dongles and keep a student's tech charged up and ready for use. 

Gifts for $50 or less 


If your college student has a TV with an HDMI port, Chromecast can supercharge it. Chromecast brings multiple streaming services and live TV together through one user interface. Viewers can search for content with voice commands or browse Chromecast's personalized recommendations.


According to one study, people in clean spaces are more relaxed, less stressed, and more productive. They even sleep better. Consider gifting this cordless handheld vacuum to help your student keep their room tidy. Its sleek, modern design features a lithium-ion battery, USB charging cable, and tools to clean tight spaces. It also includes a stand and integrated tool storage.

A gray clock radio charges a smartphone

This device provides six functions in one compact unit: An alarm clock, FM radio, Bluetooth speaker, wireless phone charger, mood light, and white noise machine. The slanted phone dock allows a student to use their charging phone. It also has an additional USB port for charging another device.

Treat yourself: Gifts that don't cost a dime

Many continue to face personal financial challenges during the pandemic. If you don't feel comfortable asking for gifts — or are among the more than 10% of Americans choosing not to exchange presents this year — consider treating yourself to one of these services or giving the gift of knowledge by sharing these freebies with friends and loved ones.

Microsoft logo

Students — and anyone with a .edu email address — can sign up for Office 365 Education for free, though your school may already provide access. A student account includes access to online versions of apps and services like Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Exchange, OneDrive, and Teams.

amazon prime

If Amazon is your go-to for nearly everything, consider this: Prime Student members receive a free six-month trial of Amazon's popular premium service. It includes free two-day shipping on eligible purchases and unlimited media streaming through Prime Video. Be forewarned: After six months, you'll be charged $6.49 monthly. Also, you can't share Prime benefits with a student account. 

A phone displaying the Chime app and a Chime-branded Visa card

If you want an online-only banking experience, give yourself the gift of fee-free banking and check out Chime. This mobile financial app can handle direct deposits and has no monthly or minimum balance fees. It also allows you to transfer money, pay bills, send money digitally, or even send a paper check through the mail. Chime members get free access to thousands of ATMs in the U.S.

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