Top 11 Gifts for Your College Freshman

college dorm

So your child isn’t so little anymore, and the time has come for you to send him or her off to the exciting new world of college. While you might have a hard time containing your own nerves, you can help make the transition as easy as possible for your kid.

If you want to help set your freshman up with some of the comforts of home in their tiny college dorm room, there are some key items that can make their transition to self-sufficiency a little smoother. Because space and access to electricity might be limited, it’s best if you can carefully narrow down your list of potential gifts to the most practical and useful. Here is a list of the top 11 gifts for college freshmen to get you started.

1. Bedding


Your college student’s dorm room will more than likely come with a bed platform and a mattress. However, you’ll need to purchase your own sheets, pillows and blankets for your child. This is one of the best gifts you can provide your college-bound child because you know they will need them and use them every single night.

Be sure to choose a collection made of light, breathable fabric because you never know if the heating and cooling systems in the dorms will function properly. Also, see if you can find out if extra-long twin sheets will be needed. This often is the case for college dorm beds. Many students use their beds as places to study, so include several pillows of different sizes and firmness levels.

2. Computer


Although your student might have had a serviceable laptop that got them through high school, now might be the time to upgrade. A college student is likely to need more memory, computing power and certain software that an older machine might not come with.

When picking out a newer model, make sure to get something durable–multiple daily moves in and out of a backpack, plus routine bumps and bruises can really take their toll on the lighter versions.

3. Bicycle


For kids that will be attending a large college, a fast mode of transportation can be crucial for getting from one end of the campus to the other before the next class starts.

Unfortunately, bikes are one of the most stolen items at any university. Make sure you also provide a hefty bike lock, and consider a seat that has a quick release mechanism so that it can be removed between uses to help dissuade thieves. If your state has a helmet law for adults, new head protection should be part of the gift.

4. Mini Fridge

Mini Fridge

Where will your student store his or her leftover slices after a late-night pizza run? It’s times like these that a mini fridge can come in handy.

If there is space in the dorm room and an ideally placed electrical outlet, provide your freshman with an appropriately sized fridge so he or she can keep their soda and perishable foods cool and safe to eat.

5. Extra Storage

extra storage

Under-the-bed space and other nooks and crannies are prime real estate for additional storage in a small dorm room. Look for shelf or drawer units that will fit in these spaces in order to inspire organization in your student.

Consider getting something portable for your kid to use as storage. College students do a lot of traveling and always need a sturdy trunk to keep their belongings in. When they are not traveling or moving, they can use the trunk to store items under their college dorm room bed or in their closet. They come in all kinds of materials, but you want to purchase one that is light enough to carry up the stairs if necessary. In some cases, a trunk can be used as additional seating or as a coffee table in a pinch.

6. Small Appliances

Coffee maker

Depending on the rules of the dorm, you might be able to provide a variety of small appliances to help out your freshman. A coffeemaker or compact espresso machine might be vital to some students, while others may prefer a toaster oven or hot plate for times when they can’t make it to the cafeteria.

Irons and light vacuum cleaners could be smart options as well, depending what kinds of resources the kids can expect to be provided for communal use in their college dorms.

7. Comfy Chair

Desk Chair

Your freshman likely will spend a great deal of time at his or her desk, either working on the computer or studying for exams. Even on down time, you still want your child to have a comfortable place to be when hanging out with a roommate or other friends. A cushy rolling desk chair could be a good fit, or else they might want a large bean-stuffed loveseat for extra seating space.

Be sure not to get a chair or mini loveseat that is too big though–we all know that dorm rooms can be criminally small. Before your purchase, be sure to take thorough measurements of their room to make sure this item will fit.

8. Decorations

wall calendar

Help turn your kid’s dorm room into a home away from home with fun and festive decorations that match their style. However, there may be college dorm room regulations that dictate what kinds of things can be hung on the walls of the room, so it’s important to be aware of the rules before making any purchases.

You might also want to stick with serviceable wall hangings such as dry erase boards, rewritable calendars or hanging mirrors. There likely won’t be a lot of space for knick-knacks, so don’t choose those for gifts unless you know for a fact there will be a place for them.

9. Laundry Supplies


If they are lucky enough to live nearby, your child may visit home most weekends to get a good meal and do his or her laundry. However, that won’t be the case for every family. Help your college freshman be prepared for long hours in the laundry room by providing a kit that includes a compact laundry basket, detergent, bleach, dryer sheets and rolls of quarters.

If they don’t already know how, it might be a good idea to teach them how to do their laundry before they move off to their dorm. This can help them avoid bleaching the wrong items or shrinking others.

10. Basic Tool Kit


It may not seem likely that your child will need to make a lot of repairs in the college dorm room, but there will be times when a bike repair or broken chair can be remedied by having the right screwdriver on hand.

Having a tool kit allows students to be problem-solvers and take care of themselves in a self-sufficient manner. Tool kits may not be needed every day, but when you do need one, they are good to have on hand.

11. Reloadable Credit Card

reloadable credit card

You may want to believe you are done handing out cash all of the time to your student, but it may be a while before he or she gets used to managing money properly. In the meantime, it can be convenient to give them a prepaid credit card that you can load with money without a trip to the bank.

Be sure to let them know this card is just for emergencies, though, and won’t be refilled very often. Before you give them the card, it might be a good idea to set up a monthly budget or allowance for your freshman so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to their expenses.

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Are you looking for a great, compact beverage cooler for your office or a customer waiting area?  The EdgeStar 62, 84, and 118 can beverage coolers would be a perfect choice for your needs. Whether you are a workout facility looking to store your energy drinks or an auto-repair shop that likes to offer a soda while your customers wait for their service repair, we have the beverage cooler for you!

The 3 different capacities allow you to pick the right size for your space.  These are also great for promotional gifts and can easily be labeled and decal-ed.  These beverage coolers will come in a stylish black color with stainless steel trim and handle.  The wire shelving inside the unit can be moved and arranged to accommodate different bottle sizes.  Give us a call if you would like to add these to your business or personal needs.

Ryan is the head of Business Sales for Living Direct. If you are interested in learning more about any of our commercial products or wish to make a bulk purchase from our site, you can reach Ryan at 1-800-297-6076 or contact him through this form.

4 Built-In Appliances to Replace a Trash Compactor

Built-In Appliance

If your kitchen has a trash compactor, but you hardly ever use it, then maybe it’s time you replaced it with a different appliance. Updating this appliance is a one-step way to update your kitchen and transform your space.

Trash compactors are typically just under 15 inches in width, but just to be safe, make sure to measure your model and the opening it sits in before deciding on the new appliance you want to exchange it with.

To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of appliances that are 15 inches wide or slightly under and could easily replace your outdated trash compactor. Start dreaming of the ways you can upgrade your home:

1. Wine Cooler

Have an affinity for wine or looking to class up your space? A wine cooler will definitely upgrade the look of your kitchen. There are many different designs you can choose from, but all of them have sleek, contemporary finishes sure to be a conversation starter amongst visiting family and friends.

Aside from the aesthetics, if you enjoy wine then placing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen will be a fitting and convenient addition. You can easily pair a wine with your dinner, entertain guests or enjoy a glass after a long day at work. The wine will be perfectly chilled to your preferred temperature and waiting for you when you want it.

Like all under counter appliances, you will want to make sure you are purchasing a wine cooler that is specifically designed for built-in purposes. A freestanding unit should not be built into cabinetry because it will overheat and stop working, and in the process, your wine could be ruined.

Some of my favorite 15 inch built-in wine coolers:

1. Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

This understated wine cooler has all of the best features without any of the fuss.


  • Single zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 30 bottles
  • Temperature range of 40-65° F
  • LED display & interior lighting
  • Slide out wire shelves

2. EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Perfect for the wine red and white wine drinker, this dual zone unit has two independently controlled temperature zones. The upper zone is ideal for red wines, while the lower zone is perfect for lighter varietals.


  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 26 bottles
  • Temperature ranges:
    • Lower zone – 40-54° F
    • Upper zone – 54-64° F
  • Slide out steel-trimmed, wooden shelves

3. Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

This dual zone wine cooler has all of the bells and whistles that cause wine aficionados to swoon: low-emissivity dual pane glass doors filled with argon, seamless stainless steel trim, and roll-out shelving just to name a few.


  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 28 bottles
  • Temperature range: 40 – 54°F (both zones)
  • Has a lock for keeping your wine secure
  • Roll out wood shelves with stainless steel trim

2. Beverage Refrigerator

Free up valuable refrigerator space and impress guests with an array of drink varieties by installing a beverage refrigerator in the place of your trash compactor. Sodas and beers can take up quite a bit of shelf space that could instead be used for more groceries or dinner leftovers.

Having a designated fridge for your drinks will also make it easier when entertaining; guests will know exactly where to go for a refill.

My favorite 15 inch built-in beverage fridges:

1. EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

You’ll be able to stock plenty of beer and sodas for your friends and family in this sleek beverage fridge. A digital temperature display ensures your drinks are kept at your exact specifications.


  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Has a lock for keeping beverages secure
  • Slide out shelving
  • Blue LED interior lighting

2. Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

This beverage fridge has all of the features as the EdgeStar fridge but comes in a classic black rather than stainless steel.


  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Recessed handle
  • Slide-out wire shelving
  • LED interior lighting

3. Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Can’t decide between a beverage or wine fridge? With this wine & beverage fridge, you don’t have to!


  • Holds up to 60 beverage cans & 4 bottles of wine
  • Temperature range: 40-65°F
  • Slide out maple-trimmed, wire shelves
  • Double pane, tinted, UV-resistant glass door
  • An alarm if the temperature is higher or lower than desired point for an extended time.

3. Refrigerator

Maybe instead of drinks, it’s too much food that’s making it difficult to close your kitchen refrigerator door. An under-counter refrigerator might be the answer to your problems then.

Beverage fridges and regular fridges have a similar temperature range, but beverage fridges might get warmer than you need for storing food. Also, many refrigerators have door storage and adjustable shelves, which most beverage refrigerators don’t have.

Here is my recommended built-in refrigerator:

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

This high-end refrigerator from Marvel features a timeless design sure to look great amongst any kitchen décor.


  • 3.0 cubic foot capacity
  • 3 adjustable, chrome-plated wire shelves & 3 door shelves
  • Auto-defrost
  • Filler kit allows usage in 18-inch wide opening
  • Leveling legs

4. Ice Maker

If you have a large family, love to entertain, or simply love eating ice, you may have found that your refrigerator just can’t keep up with your needs. If this is the case for you, consider replacing your trash compactor with an undercounter ice maker.

There are quite a few different undercounter ice makers available on the market and most make what is known as clear ice, meaning it contains no impurities; it’s restaurant quality. Other options include gourmet, nugget, and crescent. However, the Scotsman that I’ve included in my list of favorite built-in ice machines makes what is known as nugget ice or, as most people call it, Sonic ice. That’s right; you can get delicious Sonic ice right in your home!

My favorite built-in ice makers:

1. EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

This clear ice maker features a sleek stainless steel door that’ll match your existing appliances. An ice scoop, removable bin, and all installation parts arrive with the ice maker.


  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Gravity drain line
  • Insulated ice storage

2. Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Over the stainless steel craze? Change it up with this black undercounter ice machine. Able to produce 45 lbs. of restaurant-quality ice per day, you’ll never be without ice again.


  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Drain line included
  • Produces clear ice cubes

3. Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Love sonic ice? Enjoy the same delicious, chewable ice you know and love in the comfort of your own home. This undercounter nugget ice machine will cause you to wonder what kept you from replacing that old trash compactor sooner.


  • Makes up to 85 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 22 pounds of ice
  • Produces “Sonic” ice
  • Approved for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Ice scoop included

So, now that you know about the variety of built-in appliances available, it’s time for you to update your kitchen by getting rid of that outdated, unused trash compactor. Fall in love with your kitchen all over again with this one-step transformation.

Must-Have Products for Holiday Entertaining

Tis’ the season to entertain!  Many of us love entertaining and the holidays but entertaining during the holidays can be downright stressful.  As a child you enjoyed all the festivities had to offer whether you celebrated Christmas, Hanukkah or, for some, maybe even Festivus! As we become adults we get to see the behind the scenes of it all and unless you have super powers you have had your challenges.  So here is a helpful guide on must-have products to make your entertaining season full of cheer!

Slow Cooker:

One of my favorite must-haves is the infamous slow cooker. This is a great product for even those nights when you have to fit in some holiday shopping and still manage to cook dinner for the family. The options are endless: you can make a wonderful, warm apple cider, an amazing dip for Christmas Eve, baked applies for dessert or, on Christmas, a hearty soup as an appetizer. Growing up every Christmas, we had Escarole and Bean Soup, super delicious and super easy!

Simply any appliance that allows you to get all of your other duties done while it does all the cooking is a life saver. There are some great options to choose from depending on your family/guest size. I typically have small get-togethers and find the perfect size for me is a 3.5 qt, like the Cuisinart 3.5 Programmable Slow Cooker, but if you have a larger family a 6.5-7 qt might be right for you. Check out the Cuisinart 6.5 qt Programmable Slow Cooker or the Kalorik 7 qt Slow Cooker for larger groups.

Knife Set/Food Processor:

Whether you are a purist or practical, you need a great tool to help with food preparation.  For the purist who really takes cooking to a higher standard, a great knife set is key. I highly recommend any knife set from the Ginsu Knife Collection as they are the epitome of high quality! For the amateur chef or the professional, you have a range to choose from. A couple of my favorite knife sets are the Ginsu Chikara 5  Piece Bamboo/Stainless Steel Set and Ginsu Shoku Ebony 8 Piece with Magnetic Strip.

For the practical chef who doesn’t have enough hands to keep up, a great food processor can help out a lot. Preparation is half the battle and these are some of the great options available: Cuisinart 4 Cup Food Processor, Cuisinart 7 Cup Food Processor and, for the budget-minded, Black & Decker Food Chopper.

Gravy Boat:

My father (who is a chef, so he definitely knows what he’s talking about) always said a good gravy boat is essential to a holiday meal as the gravy ties the entire meal together.  There are many wonderful gravy boats on the market today, but I have a new favorite.

What is better than a regular gravy boat? A heated gravy boat with a wide handle and nice design, the Next Level Gravy Boat.  Not only is it great for serving gravy, but it can also be used for morning brunch as a syrup warmer!  You could probably use it for many other sauces as well. I believe anything that warms something dear to your heart is a great product and a must-have!

Wine & Beverage Refrigerators:

If you are the type of entertainer to throw big lavish dinners, cozy get-togethers or rowdy parties (so pretty much, any type of entertainer), then enjoying a holiday beverage is key. Whether you love a cold beer, tall glass of wine or some bubbly, a great beverage or wine cooler is a big convenience. There are so many different options available that you are sure to find the right product for your needs.

Here are some wonderful units for all of you different types of entertainers:
– Cold Beer: EdgeStar 84 Can Beverage Cooler
– Cozy Get-Together: Koldfront 4 Bottle Wine Cooler
– Red OR White Wine: Koldfront 30 Bottle Wine Cooler
– Red AND White Wine: EdgeStar 46 Bottle Dual Zone Wine Cooler

Coffee Makers:

Lastly, but definitely not least, is a great coffee maker!  Coffee is many things for different people. Some use it as their alarm clock to wake up, it’s what keeps others going throughout the day and for people like me, it is just nice to sit and enjoy a lively conversation over a hot cup of coffee.

If you’re going to be hosting a crowd this holiday season, then make sure you have enough joe to go around! Get a large coffee machine like the Cuisinart 12 Cup Coffee Maker or the Cuisinart Grind & Brew 10 Cup Coffee Maker. And don’t forget about the tea drinkers in your family, the Kalorik-JK31099 Dome Jug Kettle will help them feel right at home.