College freshmen have enough to worry about, remembering where their classes are located on campus and getting along with new roommates. The best support you can offer from afar is a shot of home comfort. Below are a few gift suggestions to help new college students from South Florida navigate their new independent lives.
• Starter kit for new cooks: Ramen noodles are so 1980s. For $75, Aragon 101, a home decor boutique, is selling a culinary starter kit. The set includes measuring spoons, kitchen towels, tongs, a spatula, a cookbook and a microwave tray for steaming your food. There’s also a $75 cooking class called “The Graduate” at 6 p.m. on Aug. 23 that teaches simple techniques for cooking in a dorm room. Pair the kit and the class together for $150 and you have one prepared, well-fed college kid. Info: 305-443-7335, aragon101.com, 101 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables.
• Own Your Domain: Branding is the name of the game in this fiercely competitive economic climate. Roughly 7.9 percent of college graduates were unemployed in 2013, according to a Georgetown University study. It’s never too soon to buy your college student’s birth name in case they want to start a website promoting their professional profile. Many employers Google job prospects when deciding on whether to hire an intern candidate. So hurry up and purchase JaneDoe.com for your student before somebody else does! Info: Purchase at godaddy.com, register.com or other domain name registrars for as little as $10 a year.
• A mini-tablet: Check out the Apple iPad mini or the Google Nexus 7 for tablet inspiration. Having an electronic tablet is essential for any college student, and the minis’ price points are lower than their bigger counterparts. The smaller sizes fit nicely into a purse or backpack, and also allow for students to work on the go. Info: Apple Store or other electronics stores, $199-$659.
Keep them warm with Miami heat: Think hand warmers, not the 2013 NBA World Champions. For many South Florida students, attending college north of the Mason-Dixon Line may be the first time that they ever see snow. Sure, snow is pretty, but winter may be brutal on college students’ formerly sun-kissed skin. Frostbite is not fun, so any gifts that help keep the body warm will be appreciated. Hand warmers are little packets that, when activated, heat up your hands when held — almost like a lump of warm coal. They are perfect for snowy treks across campus. Info: HeatMax, Grabber Warmers and other versions can be found at Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens, among other stores, $6 and up.
• The real Miami Heat: Lots of jerseys to pick from, but consider the one Udonis Haslem wears because “UD” is as Miami as you can get. He grew up in Miami-Dade County and went to the University of Florida.. He is now the co-captain for his home team, which just happens to be the NBA champs. Let your shorty wear the Number 40 to represent real South Florida pride. Info: The Miami HEAT Store in AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., 786-777-3008, themiamiheatstore.com, $15-$90.
Condoms: No joke. The college health clinic will probably have an ample supply, but since nearly half of the 19 million new STDs each year are diagnosed in young people, ages 15–24, one can never take enough precautions. Play it safe. Info: Purchase at any drugstore, 12-pack $14.99 and up.
• Cafe for the kids: For college students who are homesick, a proper cup of Cafe Bustelo may help remind them of home. The strong waft of espresso will make the college student a hit in the dorm. A jolt of java is perfect for helping students stay awake during late-night study sessions. Also, Cafe Bustelo is becoming a hipster favorite – it’s marketed at music festivals such as Coachella Valley Music and Arts. Only a South Florida student can make sure the cafe keeps its original cool. Info: Find at most grocery stores in South Florida, $13 for a 36-ounce can, cafebustelo.com.