Deck the Halls and the Walls: 9 Must-Have Dorm Accessories

It's almost time. You've (hopefully) packed up most of the necessities, registered for classes, and studied a map of campus like it's an SAT prep book so you don't look like a lost freshman trying to find the right building for your 8 am on the first day. Now, you have to buckle down and finish that final pre-college task: dorm decoration. Those four off-white walls with a twin bed and a desk are going to be your home for the next year or more, and it's important to make the space functional and comfy. But how do you decide what things to buy for college?

Essential Things to Buy For College

Don't worry! We're here to help you pick out the best accessories for the dorm. Check out this list of 9 essential items for your home away from home.

1. A Microwave

Even if your dorm is right next door to the dining hall, there will be days you just don't want to leave your room to get food. You'll be happy to have a microwave in your room if you get sick with the flu going around your dorm or accidentally skip dinner because you got caught up finishing a big essay. A lot of dorms come with a mini-fridge these days. But if you don't have a way to keep frozen meals or leftovers, keep a stash of ramen or microwavable soup handy. And with a few culinary hacks, even packaged soup can become a fancy meal!

2. Under-Bed Storage

If your college gives you the choice, ask for a raised or lofted bed before move-in. Those few extra feet will do wonders for your space -- dorms are tiny, and it's hard to keep all your stuff organized. Get drawers or shelving to place under your bed. You can use the extra storage for anything from school supplies to your ever-growing t-shirt collection. (Seriously. In college, you get a t-shirt for everything. You'll need the room.)

3. Bed Sheet Grippers

Dorm beds are probably the only beds in the world that need twin extra long sheets, and a few runs through the dryer can shrink that fitted sheet into something very frustrating to put on a mattress. Once you've wrestled the sheets onto your bed, use some bed sheet grippers to make sure those things stay where you put them. Stock up on a few sets of extra sheets at the beginning of the school year. If the dorm dryers shrink your sheets or you spill coffee all over your bed, you'll be glad you don't have to go searching for the right size after all the stores stop offering back-to-school discounts.

4. A Mattress Topper

Speaking of dorm beds... those mattresses aren't the comfiest ones in the world. Invest in a good memory foam mattress topper to avoid bad sleep and possible back pain. If you have allergies, you might also want to get a mattress protector to cut down on possible irritants. Wash the protector regularly to keep dust and other allergens out of your bed while you sleep.

5. Fairy Lights

The overhead lights common in most dorm rooms are a little harsh when you're waking up at 6 in the morning to get ready and grab breakfast before your first class. LED string lights are gentle on the eyes and lend your space an Instagram-worthy ambiance. Add seasonal flair with colored lights. Buy Halloween and Christmas lights off-season to save some money, and put them up when the holidays come around!

6. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

College students keep weird hours. If you're pulling an all-nighter to study for a big test while everyone else on your hall seems to be partying like it's the end of the world, noise-canceling headphones will keep you focused. Or keep you from getting jealous of all those people having fun while you balance chemical equations. A good set of headphones will also preserve the amicable relationship you have with your roommate when you want to stay up until 3 am binging on Netflix shows.

7. A Super-Comfy Robe and Slippers

Someone is going to set off the fire alarm at 11 o'clock at night in December, and you'll thank us. Pull on that robe so you don't freeze to death in your PJs while everyone stands out on the lawn to wait for the fire department. Dorm rooms can get pretty cold, too, especially if the rooms don't have individual thermostats. Other lines of defense against Antarctica-like temperatures include a good blanket and several pairs of fuzzy socks.

8. A Folding Chair or Picnic Blanket

When it's warm outside, you'll see plenty of students hanging out anywhere with a patch of grass. If your dorm has a nearby green space, set up your own mini camp and soak up some sun while you do homework! Do put on sunscreen if you're planning to be outside a while, though. Nobody likes a sunburn.

9. A Shower Tote

Communal showers don't often provide residents with personal storage space. You'll want to be able to carry all of your toiletries from your room to the bathroom without fuss. Get a colorful mesh tote so you can tell which one is yours even in the early morning when your eyes are still bleary from sleep (or you haven't put your contacts in). And while you're shopping, get some cheap flip flops to wear in the shower.

Go Forth and Decorate!

That dorm room is your home for the next year, so make it yours! College will be a breeze if you've got a comfortable and livable home base. For more tips on conquering dorm life and everything else college has to offer, check out our blog.
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