Our 10 Fave Dorm Essentials

AAAH, it’s MOVE IN DAY! Whether it’s your first time living in a dorm or you’re returning to campus after a long summer, your packing list is probably super long. We’re here to help cut out the crap and find what you really need. Then maybe mom will stop complaining about how you’re such a packrat. Okay, maybe not. Worth a try! 

Space is tight in dorm rooms, so let’s get down to the essentials. Because what’s worse than living in a tiny box? Living in a tiny box WITHOUT a fuzzy blanket.

These unfiltered recommendations from the HandsDown community will simplify dorm living and let you focus on what’s REALLY important in college: flirting with your neighbor, throwing an awesome party, and skipping class to hang on the lawn… uh, I mean, cherishing your education (sorry, mom!).

For when you share a shower with twenty other people:

3D Extremely Comfy Sootheez Slippers

Recommended by Angela, who says:

Yes I gave into the endless Instagram ads, but holy moly these are comfy. I feel like I am on a cloud and this mama needs it. I have a pair for inside and a pair I wear in the world. I never was to stand barefoot again.

Seriously though, if you value your life, don’t stand barefoot in the shared shower. Godspeed.

For your unimaginably small closet:

Clear Stackable Large Shoe Drawer

Recommended by Rebecca, who says: 

These are such a life saver. I use them to store and organize everything from cleaning and office supplies to makeup and skincare. They come in a bunch of sizes (I prefer the medium shoe boxes) and have inserts to sectionalize the interior.

It’s about being a minimalist while optimizing storage to squeeze every item you own into the dorm room. A delicate balance.

For hydrating the morning after your TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE night of partying:

Hydroflask 32oz Wide Mouth Bottle

Recommended by Sonia, who says: 

Seems obvious but I love this water bottle because I feel like I drink 2x more thanks to the straw. The bumper is great, the entire thing is easy to clean, and at 32oz it’s big but not a pain to carry around.

Just imagine this bottle completely covered in weird stickers. Because you’re cool! And unique! And stickers = personality!

For snuggling up and watching TV while avoiding studying:

Oversized Primalush Throw Blanket

Recommended by Valerie, who says: 

So cozy and soft. Use it everyday!

Ah yes, I too avoid studying everyday. 

For visiting your best friend down the hall at 2AM:

Kyoto Slides from Skin

Recommended by Nora, who writes:

These slides are cute af, cushion-y as can be and they keep my soles soft and protected from all of the awful splinters my old NYC apartment floor has to offer.

This is the perfect pair of slip-on shoes for your trek to the communal laundry room… located in the darkest depths of the dorm basement.

For being a human when you truly don’t feel like one:

Starbucks Iced Coffee

Recommended by Frank, who says: 

Sorry, not sorry, but Starbucks has the best iced coffee. They brew it, they chill it, and when ready to order, they pour over ice. It’s not hot coffee over ice diluting your drink like those small shops. You can specify how much sugar (if any) in it. You can mobile order on app or pay on app to earn rewards. Their coffee is not acidic and EVERY person who tries my style (half sweetened) they all appreciate its deliciousness.

I hear ya, Frank. Caffeinated vibes!

For when your roommate is being a tad noisy:

AirPods Pro

Recommended by Valerie, who says:
I love the noise cancellation on my Airpods Pro. Completely tunes out the world.

Yeah, no, your roommate is totally lovely. You get along super well. But sometimes, for your SANITY, you just need some SILENCE.

For your late-night cravings:

Dang Thai Rice Chips

Recommended by Esther, who says:

Obsessed with these. Non-gmo, gluten free. Could easily go through 2 bags in 1 sitting. Fave flavor is the toasted sesame. Plus the company is named after their mom. Love.

Okay, so you’re finally actually studying. Good for you! Snack break, anyone?

For when the cheesy dorm blinds don’t block out any sunlight:

Impressions Sleep Mask

Recommended by Kendyl, who says:

With this mask, I find that I am able to go back to sleep so much more easily. Its comfortable and comes in such cute patterns!

Maybe you and your roommate have very different sleep schedules. A sleep mask is essential for peacekeeping in the dorm household.

For when there’s a weird smell coming from the hall:

Love Potion Room Mist

Recommended by Rebecca, who says: 

I found this room spray in a little store while on vacation over the summer and was immediately enchanted. The jasmine is the strongest fragrance note and I’m already on my second bottle. I may or may not have even used this as a perfume at one point!

I personally swear by Brooklyn Candle Studio products. Their candles are AMAZING, but flames aren’t usually allowed in dorms, so room mist is a great alternative for some air-freshening magic.

So, there you have it. Ten fabulous things, courtesy of the HandsDown community, to help launch the ~best years of your lyfe~

What are your dorm must-haves? Create a whole list of college faves, or just add items to your Top 10 Favorite Things. Don’t forget to share with your new best friends (AKA everyone you meet the first week on campus). 

Happy dorming, kiddos! Stay hydrated, and don’t let anyone borrow your phone charger!

10 All-Year Fave Candles

With a good candle, the ritual is half the magic. No matter the season I love striking a match, watching the curl of smoke, and lighting a scented candle with a dramatic flourish. Bedside, bathside, deskside, with a cup of tea, with a glass of wine… you get the idea. Life is just better when the air smells like bergamot.

With infinite candles and scent varieties on the market, choosing the right candle can feel daunting. Scent is so personal, and trying a new candle brand can be unpredictable, especially when you’re shopping online. How long does the candle last? Is the scent strong or weak, sweet or citrusy? Do you want soy, coconut, or beeswax? 

Well, candle connoisseurs, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s a roundup of ten Fave candles recommended by the HandsDown community. These authentic reviews will simplify your search for the perfect flame. It’s time to find yourself some flickering magic, perfect for any season!

For a bite-sized bonfire:

White Tea & Jasmine WoodWick Candle

Cassidy says:

They are heavenly – long lasting & they make a fun little crackle sound when they burn. Great vibes all around.

And everyone knows a good candle is 99% vibes and 1% actual candle qualities. 

To inhale some hygge:

Ro Scented Candle by Skandinavisk

Kendra says:

This candle smells so relaxing and warm. It is a very nostalgic smell for me. A bit pricey for a candle, but it makes me so very happy.

According to the maker, “Ro” means “peace” in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Sign me up.

For a design-forward candle in sleek all-black:


Jamie says:

The scent of heaven.

Well, it doesn’t get much better than that!

An NYC-based, female-founded brand:

Sunday Morning Minimalist Candle by Brooklyn Candle Studio

Ashley says:

My candle obsession knows no bounds.

Brooklyn Candle Studio rocks! I love the Kyoto scent — like a walk in the woods, but you’re lying on the couch. (And with the larger size, you can clean out the residual wax to make a cute cocktail glass.)

For some ethically-made Maryland magic:

Knits, Soy and Metal candles

Jessica says:

Love the smell of the floral set. Maker is a woman of color, small biz in Baltimore.

…using soy wax produced by American farmers! Shop small!

For a high-end cult classic:

LAFCO Scented Candles

Janet says:

I love lighting beautiful, luxury scented candles – day and night – to relax me and my guests at home.

These hand-blown glass candles are seriously elegant.

Earthy vibes with a unique linen label:

Day’s Last Light Glass Candle

Rebecca says:

I love a good candle, but this candle from Anthropologie is such an awesome find! The Palo Santo Linen scent is warm, clean and woodsy- a truly unique scent that relaxes me whenever I smell it.

Typical Anthro, doing everything just a little bit cooler. 

For a scent that transports you:

Arches National Park Candle – red sandstone, copaiba balsam + sandalwood

Becca says:

I love nearly all of the National Parks line of candles, but Arches is my HANDS DOWN favorite.

Gotta love the old-timey style of these tins!

Another small business fave:

Sugar Cookie Candle by Cleveland Candle Co.

Kristen says:

Local Cleveland small business, handmade candles. Love these especially at Christmas time.

It’s like dessert, but for your nose.

And finally, for lovely scents minus the flames:

Amber & Moss Reed Diffuser by P.F. Candle Co.

Sonia (co-founder of HandsDown) says:

Best diffuser everrrrr. I fell in love with this brand because of their candles, the fragrances are earthy and not too sweet. But I’m lazy and don’t want to light candles all the time, so I replaced all them with this diffuser. People always comment how amazing our bathroom smells!

A diffuser that doesn’t give you a headache? What sorcery is this!

Ten household favorites, recommended by ten real people on HandsDown, to help you unwind, refresh, and make life smell a little better. 

Do you have a fave candle? We want to hear about it! Make a list of your wellness essentials, or just add must-haves to your Top 10 Favorite Things, and share with your friends. Or better yet, gift a friend a candle and spread the scented love!