What to give rising freshmen before they head off to college.

This post is sponsored by Target, but all text, images, and opinions are all my own! Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Thou Swell running.

I’m excited to announce a new partnership on Thou Swell with Target for their MadeForU back-to-college campaign! While I’m not heading to college quite yet, after a semester of dorm living at the Oxbow School this past year, I have a bit of experience making a dorm feel like home! But before we get to that, I’ve got some ideas for gift-giving to those college-bound kids in your life. Teenagers are so hard to give gifts to. I never know what to ask for myself! But when it comes to heading off to college and living independently, there are a few things that might make thoughtful gifts…

What to give rising freshmen before they head off to college.

There’s a mix of practical and decorative in this guide because not everyone wants to give the gift of Tide Pods. But they are definitely a huge help (as my older sister can attest to)! You could give one big item like the Beats headphones or bundle a couple of items (like the mug, granola bars, and gum) to create a gift basket. Either way, these items are sure to be appreciated!

What to give rising freshmen before they head off to college.

1 / RE String lights – String lights are an incredibly popular alternative to the standard fluorescent lighting of dorm rooms. They’re easy to hang and create a great atmosphere!

2 / Fast Dry Towel – While I was at Oxbow I found having nice towels to be a reminder of home. They are a bit of a college luxury!

3 / Tide Pods – No more messy measuring cups or dusty powder — these pods make it easy to run the laundry, especially for beginners!

4 / RE Silverware – Real utensils can come in handy when you least expect it, especially for that emergency take-out dinner while studying for finals.

6 / Five Gum – I’ve heard mint helps you concentrate… and your breath will thank you later!

6 / Beats Solo 2 – These headphones are the crème-de-la-crème when it comes to a personal music experience. And it’s important to keep it personal when living with a roommate!

7 / Clif Bars – Full of protein and whole grains to satisfy those in-between-meal cravings.

8 / RE Stripe Dinnerware – Enjoy your morning tea or coffee in a modern mug and your ramen in a decent bowl. And if you’re lucky enough to get a kitchenette in your dorm, you’ll have everything you need to eat-in every once in a while.

9 / Bulldog Bookends – Keep those textbooks organized in style!


TARGET_LOGOCheck out to find you and your roommate’s ultimate college style.


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