Mother and daughter shopping in the store

6 college essentials to stock up on during holiday sales

Holiday sales offer ample opportunities to save on gifts for family and friends, but they are also a prime time for stocking up on college basics and investing in a few university-bound must-haves.

Here’s a list of essentials and when to buy them during winter sales — it’s almost like you can’t afford not to take advantage.

Tech supplies and electronics

Laptops and tablets tend to have a starring role in Black Friday deals, but it might pay to wait. Stores often slash prices on tech items during December sales events like Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas) or Christmas Eve.

December is also a great time to score deals on headphones, whether you’re looking to upgrade or invest in a noise-cancelling pair to help your student tune out their noisy roommates. Also, look for stock-up promotions such as buy-one-get-one deals on laptop, tablet, and phone accessories, like chargers, cases, or sleeves.

Clothing and shoes

Rather than embarrass your teen by sending him or her a care package stuffed with socks and underwear, stock up on basics during holiday sales — and give it to them at home! According to U.S. News, December’s Green Monday (the last Monday with at least 10 days prior to Christmas) is an especially great time to shop for clothing online, citing that retailers offer anywhere from 20%–50% off sitewide.

Retailers also offer additional markdowns on sale merchandise during after-Christmas sales to make way for new collections, making it an apt time to stock up on jeans and loungewear, or to replace winter coats and boots (or rain boots).


Whether your student lives in a dorm or off campus, student housing is notoriously short on space. Take advantage of end-of-year sales to stock up on organization solutions like storage cubes, under-the-bed containers, hanging closet organizers, over-the-door shoe racks. Other helpful items include a bathroom caddy to corral shower essentials, trays or organizers for school papers and desk supplies, and a bunk bed shelf/organizer for bedside storage.

Bicycles and cars

If your student plans to get around campus on two wheels, January is a good time to purchase a new bike — even if the weather is currently less than ideal. According to Business Insider, bike lanes may be empty but stores are busy clearing out stock to make way for new models rolling in mid-February.

Similarly, if your son or daughter is looking for a new vehicle, Edmunds indicates that December is the month to buy, as dealerships are looking to clear our last year’s models.


January is synonymous with white sales, when linens are discounted by up to 60%. Stock up on essentials like sheets and towels — be sure to opt for twin extra-long sheets to fit dorm beds and at least two sets of towels (for those times when your teen might skip laundry day). You might also consider investing in bedding extras, like a comforter set, pillows, and throws; and add on some extra kitchen towels for those late-night study session snack cleanups.

Dishes and cookware

According to Consumer Reports analysts (who track prices year-round) winter is a great time to buy kitchen appliances and dishware. You might consider shopping for small appliances for your student’s dorm room, like a mini fridge, microwave, coffee maker, or toaster oven — just make sure to check the dorm rules to see what’s allowed. Holiday sales in November and December are also prime time to purchase a small set of stylish-yet-functional (read: easy to clean) dishes and flatware or a new water pitcher and filter

Dana Fulton
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Dana Fulton

Social Media Content Manager at Wells Fargo
Creative professional with years of sales and marketing experience, specializing in segment-specific strategy and customer-centric communications. Skills include problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, and clarifying the complex.
Dana Fulton
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