The Anatomy of the College Frosh Basket

Stressed about what to get that off-to-college student in your life? Fret no more. I have the answer.

Start with a plastic bin; they’ll need at least 32 for their personal belongings anyway. Add TP rolls for filler as well as the first gift item…they’ll need those too, mostly for non-toilet purposes. Tissues when they get their first cold and realize they used all of their tissues for napkins. Napkins when the tissues were used for toilet paper. Or for good old tree-adornment during Homecoming.  Also: things that look like a face for the win.

Fill with even more items-they’ll-need; in my experience, that means plenty of shelf-ready food, notebooks, a few toiletries, and one of those magnetic white boards for your dorm door. Those never go out of style.

Cover any gaps in the pile-o-presents with some tissue paper, wrap in cellophane and ribbon, and voila — the perfect going away present for a college first-year. Here’s a list of the other items in my basket:

Farberware magnetic clips

Emoji stickies

Snickers bar


Ramen Noodles

Toilet paper – 3

Composition notebooks – 2

Door whiteboard

PB2 add-water peanut butter

Venus disposable razors

The V-Day Quirky Gift Round-up 2016

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I was compelled to put another alternative gift list together for those of us looking for something that hasn’t yet been beaten to death by Hallmark. So, here are a few gift choices for the quirkier of recipients, from the organ lover to the fungusphile.

Heart of Gold Metallic Plush ($39). Come correct with this plush heart, complete with razzle-dazzle ventricles. Via the adorably named website

Tattoo Notebook ($13). This reminds me of adult coloring books with a twist. Sketch out planned or fantasized ink in this body part-filled notebook. Found at suckUK.

Star Wars as told in the style of Shakespeare. Whether ’tis nobler to turn to the Dark Side…Found at Firebox ($18).

Tabasco Chocolate ($8) I love this one because it’s an inexpensive foodie gift with a collectible tin – always feels more substantial to give than a cardboard box of candy. There are even suggested recipes to try with this kind of hot chocolate, such as chili chocolate beef. Found at Firebox.

Grow pink oyster mushrooms in your own kitchen and whip up a plate of pink pasta, risotto, mushroom tempura, or a rosy omelet. $27 from the Espresso Mushroom Company.

cat cave etsy

Whether you call it a cat cave, hole, bed, house, or vessel — and the Etsy seller who makes these is ok with all of those —   this handmade wool kitty nook is also a nice little home decor item. $53; found at nerdwallet.