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Best Gifts for College Students

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You’ve sent your baby off to college and now that you don’t see him or her every day, the pressure to make the most of your time together is really important. My oldest son started college this year and I have been eagerly awaiting his visit at Thanksgiving!

I’ve also started fretting about how to make the most of his visit over Christmas break, which of course, got me to thinking “What on Earth am I going to get him when he’s sharing a dorm room with two other people and I’m relatively broke from paying for college and his flights home?”

a collage of 12 different gift ideas on a white background with title text reading Best Gifts for College Students

Cards Against Humanity is insanely popular, especially among college students. The sometimes offensive, and wildly outrageous nature of the game, coupled with the unlikely education one gets while playing it, is perfect for young adults who have just achieved a dose of independence.

Cards Against Humanity party game
iris scanner pen

Skeptical? Check out the reviews.

For college students who don’t like to take notes on a laptop, the Iris scanner pen is a lifesaver. It converts handwritten notes into editable text and works on both PC and Mac. You can even capture drawings you create with the pen.

Unfortunately, college requires the occasional all-night study session and many late night study groups. Perhaps that’s why so many of us started drinking coffee in college. Since most college students are on a tight budget, help them save their money by making it easy for them to make their own coffee, rather than buying it at an expensive coffee house.

Mr. Coffee coffeemaker

This coffeemaker is under $20 and is programmable so the fresh aroma of coffee can help rouse even the sleepiest college student in the morning.

When you dropped your child off at college, did you notice that a lot of the students were walking around with headphones in? I don’t pretend to understand it, but I know it’s a thing.

Bose headphones

Save your favorite college student’s hearing and give them a high-quality set of headphones so they don’t have to blast the music to hear it. These Bose headphones are well-constructed and boast amazing sound quality.

Everyone loves music and this seems even more true of millennials. Whether they’re studying, hanging out with friends, or getting ready, college students are usually playing music in the background. Portable Bluetooth speakers make it easy for college students to take music with them everywhere and they’re not very expensive.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick lets you stream movies and TV shows from Netflix, Amazon video, HBO GO, Hulu, and several networks. It has 4 times the storage and twice the memory of Chromecast which is why I recommend it instead. Pair this gift with an Amazon Prime membership for unlimited access to Prime Video and over 1 million songs on Prime Music for a gift that any college student will appreciate.

College students are on the go. As a mom, the last thing I want is for my son to be in a situation where he needs help stuck with a dead phone. And with all that music he’s constantly streaming via his phone, he runs his battery down a lot. That’s why I’m getting him a Mophie powerstation for Christmas. It charges any USB device super fast.

As I mentioned, my son has two roommates. He also has a laptop, a smartphone, and bluetooth speakers to charge. That’s why I’m thinking of getting him this multi-port charging station as a stocking stuffer this year. It can charge up to 6 devices at once.

My best friend decided to have all of her daughter’s high school shirts turned into a quilt at Project Repat. I thought this was a great way to preserve her daughter’s memories of high school in a form that her daughter would actually use (since college kids don’t wear their high school shirts after high school).

buy now button


They can pick up t-shirts for pretty cheap, but college students don’t want to spend their scarce resources on more expensive college gear even though they love to wear it. Fanatics has a wide selection of products for dozens of colleges. Here’s a sampling using my son’s college.

Illinois college hat
Illinois college long-sleeved shirt
Illinois college sweatshirt
Illinois college jackets
Illinois college jacket
Illinois college tote bag

Illinois college white sweatshirt
Illinois college sweatpants for women
Illinois college hair ties

More Gift Ideas for College Students

Above are what I believe are the best gift ideas for college students, but I have a few more suggestions that deserve an honorable mention.

College kids are typically on a tight budget so they can always use money. They’ll take it in any form too — cash, gift cards, mutual fund shares, etc. If you go the gift card route, be sure you take into consideration the restaurants and stores they have easy access to.

I already mentioned that college kids love music. Make it easier for them to access it by purchasing a Spotify membership. There’s a special discount for college students. They can get a premium membership for just $4.99/mo.

Likewise, if you decide to give them the gift of entertainment with a Kindle Fire TV Stick or Chromecast, spring for an Amazon Prime or Netflix membership (click here to find out where to buy Netflix gift cards) to give them access to more shows, movies, games, etc. The best part of this gift is that you can use it too.

Finally, vinyl wall decals make a great gift for college students because they make it easy for them to decorate their living space in a non-permanent way that is easy to undo at the end of the school year. You can find these in many different stores (e.g. Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Etsy, etc.).

There are so many different styles and designs to choose from, I didn’t even try to come up with a recommendation. If you really know your child’s decorating taste well, this would make a great gift. If you don’t, don’t guess!

2 thoughts on “Best Gifts for College Students”

  1. You’ve just made gift giving for all the college-aged nieces and nephews a snap. Love the multi-port charger idea.

  2. Thank you for this list!!! I’m too busy to think of Christmas yet, so this is perfect timing. Love that you have the do it yourself quilt for the crafty girls, let’s see if I can squeeze out some time to get this done for my kid!


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