Intro: Teen Survival Box - the Best Graduation Present EVER!
Great. A title written by Captain Hyperbole. Maybe, but I challenge you. Barring vehicles, large sums of money, and exotic travel, tell me about better graduation present that is more useful and says you care like this one. One that will remind the receiver of your thoughtfulness for years as they use it. I said "EVER" and I meant it.
No, a Teen Survival Box is not used to survive a teen, but rather assisting them in surviving. If you know someone graduating from high school and is embarking on some level of independent living (dorm or apartment) for the first time, you have the opportunity to give them a graduation gift that will keep on giving. Over the years, I have given a number of 'survival boxes' and have kept a list of their contents, refining them and incorporating suggestions. Everything can be stored in a plastic tub in a closet or under a bed. It is a nice feeling when a niece or nephew lets me know that they used some new thing from the box to help them out.
While this isn't exactly building a project, there is plenty of room for creativity in both the contents and decorating the box for maximum embarrassment. Personally, I like crime scene tape.
If you plan ahead, a lot of the school supplies can be purchased during August during back to school sales. Of course anything can be trimmed from the list. Full price for everything can easily amount to over $100, although money can be saved if several boxes are made at once, splitting some of the supplies between boxes. Other good sources are dollar stores, Harbor Freight and department stores. You aren't trying to get the best of everything, just a solution that will do in an emergency.
Care should be taken that the contents abide by the rules of where they are staying. Some dorms don't allow matches and candles. I originally included a small folding wood saw but have been told that schools freak out a bit over something like that now. I guess the machete is right out.
I've organized the list from most vital to least, at least in my mind. Your mileage may vary.
Step 1: Emergency Supplies
These are the things that will be helpful in real emergencies or at least when things aren't going well. Basic safety and medicine is the goal here.
Small medical emergency kit
Basic medicines - stomach, head (part of the medical kit I bought)
Rain poncho or umbrella
Ace elastic bandage
Spare shoe laces
Pocket Emergency Tool/Mini Leatherman
Step 2: Tools
How well you stock this depends on your graduate's McGyver capabilities. This list assumes that someone would want some wire to hold up a fallen muffler or even think of that. As a minimum, the tool collection will have them become the go-to person for things that need fixing, even if it is just to borrow a screwdriver to tighten a drawer pull or a file to take a rough edge off of the door latch.
7 in 1 screwdriver
Allen wrenches - metric and imperial
Hobby or Stock knife
Single edged razor blades
Several neodymium magnets
Ratchet strap clamp
Spring clips of various sizes
Small and Large bungees
Rope - clothesline thickness
Disposable paint brushes
Small and large D-ring
9V, AA and AAA batteries
Magnifying glass or loupe
Chop sticks - handy for eating and as a tool
Some kind of grease or oil in a dispenser that won't leak
Step 3: Office Supplies
Now you are getting into the more practical daily additions. The idea here is not to stock them with notebooks, pens and other school supplies. It is to be the go-to place if they can't find a pen and have to get to class.
Sharpie - single or multiple colors
White board markers
Envelopes - some with forever stamps
Post-it book marks
Step 4: Electronics
You may not think a lot of this electronics stuff is that important but it is to anyone under 30. A spare SD card, easy way to plug in their lamp, charger and laptop to one outlet and other solutions can make their lives easier. It may seem strange to include a cell phone charger but cell phones are a real safety tool and it is not a good thing to have batteries that are near the end of life. I found a small Li-ion battery pack that will charge a cell phone and work as a flashlight for less than $12 at MCM Electronics on-line.
3 way AC adapter or power strip
Extension cord (some dorms require grounded cords)
Cell phone charger
SD card - ideally a microSD with adapters
Velcro cable ties
USB A to microUSB cable
USB A to USB B cable
1/8" to 1/8" audio cable
Step 5: Glues and Tape
Many problems can be solved by sticking things together, either temporarily or permanently. A whole array of solutions will guarantee that the best solution will be at hand.
Packing tape with dispenser
Velcro dots or strips
Double sided tape - thin and mounting
Step 6: Bathroom/Laundry
As with the office supplies, you aren't trying to buy them laundry detergent for the year. The goal is to help them out that time they forgot to buy more at the store. Same thing with toiletries - either for travel or as an emergency replacement, you want to bail them out of a quick shortage. You can certainly get more complex with the travel supplies like deoderant, hoping to make that long distance job interview a win, insuring their long term success in life and fulfilling their dreams - just because of you.
Small hand sanitizer
Disposable wipes package
Single use laundry soap
Bleach pen/spot remover
Traveling toothbrush and paste
Toothpicks or plaque removers
Traveling tissues (can double as TP)
Step 7: Kitchen
Even if they are on a meal plan, having some minimalist food and drink capabilities will be useful. It is your call whether you think a corkscrew will be useful. They may develop their own opinion on this.
Sets of plasticware
1 steak knife
Some paper plates, bowls and cups
Several sizes of zip lock and garbage bags
Step 8: Entertainment
Now we get to the unnecessary but fun stuff. You are not trying to replace Cards Against Humanity but you might have some idea that a simple ping pong ball can be the focus of an evening's entertainment.
Deck of cards
Ping pong ball
Superball or tennis ball
Step 9: And What to Give a Person Who Has Everything? a Box to Put It All In
This part depends on your and the receiver's degree of organization. You can go for a basic tub. If you break up larger packages for multiple boxes, you might use a few organizers to put each item in it's own spot. If you are both highly organized, there are some great tool chests with lift out trays, swing out organizers and wheels. They take up more room, which can be a problem in a dorm, but they are certainly going to have a place for everything, and everything in its place.
MacGyver could conquer the world with this box.
So there you have it. Not so much hyperbole, huh? The best graduation present EVER!