Make a College Survival Kit With Dollar Tree Items!

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Looking for college survival kit ideas? Make your own to send them back to school with all the essentials!

a college gift basket tied up with a ribbon

Know a high school graduate heading off to college soon?

Need graduation gift basket ideas? You’ve come to the right place! Consider making this fun DIY College Survival Kit gift basket and then attaching our free printable card! I went to Dollar Tree for filler items, but you can create a simple college gift basket with items you think your recipient will both need and love.

I remember how bummed I was in college to have to spend and budget for essentials like soap, detergent, toothpaste, and batteries for the first time. My freshman college roommate received a college gift basket like this, and I remember being kind of jealous at the time! 😂

This is such an exciting time in a young person’s life, and receiving a thoughtful gift like this is special and also easy to accomplish at any price point!

A Dollar Tree cart filled with dorm room essentials

Make a super affordable college survival kit from Dollar Tree!

When it comes to college gift baskets, Dollar Tree can help you make one cheap! This store has inexpensive snacks and practical items to fill a gift basket for college students, including large baskets to use as containers! I scored everything pictured below at Dollar Tree for about $13!

Hip Tip: If you are wanting to make multiple graduation gift baskets and need ideas, consider shopping for personal care, cleaning supplies, snacks, and more in bulk.

A DIY College Survival Kit spread out on a kitchen counter

Here are some fun college survival kit ideas to consider:

    • flip flops for shower shoes
    • earplugs and sleeping masks
    • laundry detergent/dryer sheets
    • laundry basket/laundry bags
    • hangers
    • snack food items like Ramen noodles & microwave popcorn
    • shower gel and loofah
    • coffee mugs/cups and instant coffee
    • hand soap/hand sanitizer
    • personal care items like deodorant, toothpaste, etc.
    • tools, flashlight, batteries
    • First Aid kit with bandages and pain reliever

College Survival Kit

Hand holding card with college survival kit gift needed items

DIY College Survival Kit


Supplies Needed



Print the card and attach it to the basket using tape.


Fill the basket with all your goodies.


Cover the basket with clear cellophane and attach a bow or ribbon.

diy college survival kit from dollar tree items

This is such a thoughtful and practical college gift idea!

Other than gift cards or cash, I honestly struggle with what to give as graduation gifts. College gift baskets don’t have to cost much as it can mean so much to someone that you thought enough of them to hand-pick every item in a large basket like this!

For more college survival kit ideas, try adding in items from our dorm room essentials checklist!

About the writer:

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 11 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 25

  1. acgold

    I do big laundry baskets filled with all the above, plus pens ( everyone thinks they only need their computers!), deodorant, condoms, hot chocolate and oatmeal packs.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s a great pack to give! I’m sure they love them, acgold!

    • dealzgurl

      Very practical! I’m sure some would take issue with the condoms but might as well be realistic.

      • Kathleen

        I agree! So many parents don’t talk to their kids about safe sex practices, but it’s so important for them to keep in mind, especially during college!

        • Kelly

          I do talk about safe sex – it is called abstinence till marriage. They may choose to do it anyway but I as a parent will not condone it.

          • Dealzgurl

            And that’s the thing. Parents can preach abstinence and do everything in their power to raise kids to stay chaste. However, kids are individuals and can still choose to act the way they want. I personally believe abstinence is the best route but understand that sometimes people veer in a different direction. And, at the very least, I hope they wear condoms when if they do.

      • Susan W Capozza

        As long as you’re not buying condoms at Dollar Tree.

      • kelly

        As a parent, I am realistic and know things do happen but I would still never promote casual sex. That is the problem with our world, weak parents. Lets teach our kids to have morals, values and delayed gratification.

    • Colleen

      I would never give my kid let alone another kid a condom. I do not promote bad behavior in college.

  2. acgold

    FYI- I ask all the parents before I add the condoms. But I am realistic! All the kids have great relationships with their parents and me. They are very educated about the world! I would rather them be safe then sorry! They get a little embarrassed and a good laugh, and they will always remember me and their gift!

    • kelly

      I am a realistic parent but I would still never promote casual sex. That is the problem with our world, weak parents. Lets teach our kids to have morals, values and delayed gratification.

  3. shop4mybabies

    I made these kits for my sons friends when they all left the state for College. Not from the dollar tree but just thinks for life. Can openers, condoms, flip flops (for the shared showers), their own towels and cleaning products. When they all got to school every few weeks I’d get a text cause they’d used another item they thought they’d never need. (not the condoms lol)

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s such a great idea! Love the can opener – good one! Ha

    • Colleen

      As a parent, I would never promote casual sex for my child and esp not someone elses. That is the problem with our world, weak parents. Lets teach our kids to have morals, values and delayed gratification.

    • Colleen

      Condoms really? That is not for a parent to buy or promote casual sex.

  4. Lana

    Make it in a sturdy square basket and not a cheapo DT one that will not last more than a few weeks. A square basket is a more efficient use of space and kids without cars don’t need to be left with a broken laundry basket a few weeks into school.

  5. kmark

    I did this and it’s allwayssss a hit!!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh yay! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. acgold

    Since I first commented, I have added a few other things, since the weather has been crazy where some of the kids go to school. A flashlight with batteries ( better than the one on the phone), fully charged power packs for their phones or computers, ziplock bags to hold some valuables, body wipes. All in case the power goes out- which it has.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Ohhh yes great ideas! Especially the charger packs. Thank you for sharing these.

  7. Rita2

    From experience….Keep the food away from the dryer sheet!

    • Jessica (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh no! Thanks for the warning, Rita2! ❤️ Good to know it might be best to group like items together or wrap up some!

  8. Justina

    This was fun! I should have printed the label, but I did a college basket for my cousin’s son’s graduation last weekend, a nice basket from aldi that I had to have but never found good use for, lol, I wanted a blue one, lol, they had white and gray instead, with disinfectant wipes, mechanical pencils, highlighters, toothbrush, post its, toothpaste, aspercreme and icy hot (he’s on the football team), a rubbermaid tupperware set, degree cool wash epsom salt body wash, febreze air freshener, a glade plug in, pens, –meant to put in a first aid kit and nail clippers (I was thinking of putting together another basket anyways, lol)—-all stuff from my couponing stockpile. Fun stuff!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh I love this!! Thanks for sharing Justina. What a great gift!

  9. Roberta Turner

    Parents. It’s a different era now. All you that say I would never encourage, well, one day you may wish you did!!! Listen to today’s music, that tells you what’s up. You won’t condone it, you have no choice. Face facts. Every generation is different.

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