50 Gifts for College Students They Will Actually Use

50 Gifts for College Students They Will Actually Use

When it comes to buying gifts, the easiest gift shopping is always for the college student in the family. It’s not difficult to know why. College is more than an extension of education. It is also a transitional phase between childhood and adulthood. College-aged students aren’t completely on their own yet, but it’s the first time they are experiencing life without their parents. It’s a time of learning, stumbling and adapting. 

There’s a lot to think about with the balance and management of classes, internships, second jobs, social lives, and relationships. Useful and thoughtful gifts can make an enormous difference in the quality of their life away from home.

Admittedly, it’s a nice change to see unappreciative kids suddenly love everything you ever give them. Because money is almost always scarce (and because they haven’t quite mastered budgeting beer money with, well, everything else) just about anything you buy for a college student will be rationed and used as if they were living on the street. They may even cry a little.

As they adjust to a new life away from home, you can’t go wrong with anything on this list. We found 50 useful items for your coed that will meet their needs, guaranteed. Whether you are looking for something they can’t afford or more on the inexpensive side, useful or just funny, for girls, guys, or both, there is a good chance you’ll find it here. 

  1. Bed Tent – Because there are times you just need to hide from the world.
  2. Microwave Pasta Cooker – Because pasta really is the best comfort food. 
  3. Heated Slippers – Their toes will thank you.
  4. Stress Balls – Because finals. (You can find a few of ours here and here)
  5. High Tech Backpack with phone charger – Welcome to now. Backpacks are the new smartphones. 
  6. Personal scrapbook – Don’t wait to start collecting memories right away. 
  7. Ramen Cookbook – Because if they have to eat another packet of chicken flavor they may just lose it. 
  8. Echo Dot – Alexa always wanted to go to college.
  9. Sleep Eye Mask – For when the vampire roommate has a different sleep schedule.
  10. Mug cake mixes for microwave – Best thing since Ramen!
  11. A hundred hair ties – Make it two hundred. These things vanish into thin air.
  12. Wireless Beats headphones – The best sound around, noise-canceling, and mood-lifting. 
  13. Metro pass – If the university is near a large city with public transit, all-access transportation can be life-changing. 
  14. Gift Cards – We recommend Visa, Amazon, Starbucks, Target, Uber Eats, Hulu, Whole Foods, and Chipotle. Hot tip: Research their local restaurants and convenience shops and see if they offer gift cards as well. 
  15. Cash – Too boring? Pack it at the bottom of a huge empty box and fill it with packing peanuts. They’ll enjoy the hunt. And spending it. 
  16. Footed Pajamas – Because they are cute and cozy.
  17. Salt and Pepper Shakers – Because if you don’t, they might steal them from their local Denny’s. Along with sugar packet holders. Send those too. 
  18. Portable Bluetooth speaker – This generation’s boom box. You’re no one without one. 
  19. Apple iPad – Great for traveling when they don’t want to lug that laptop around, and streaming privately in that bed tent you already bought them. 
  20. Comfortable shoes – College kids walk everywhere… A LOT. Depending on the season, they also need snow boots, sneakers, and athletic sandals. Comfortable shoes that last all year are usually too expensive for them to purchase on their own. If there is anything they will get good use out of, it’s high-quality walking shoes.
  21. Portable Projector – Because MOVIE NIGHT!
  22. Passport holder and luggage tag – Because they lose everything. 
  23. Mini travel photo printer – Incredibly useful and pairs great with that scrapbook you already got them. 
  24. Apple air pods – So they can walk around campus and talk to their parents in between classes. Yep, for EXACTLY that reason.
  25. Fitbit – They’ll never do more walking in their life. Might as well track it now.
  26. Cards Against Humanity– Apparently it’s the game everyone is playing.
  27. Ouija Board – How does it DO THAT?
  28. Savvy Suitcase – One with wheels, fits in an overhead compartment, and has a built-in phone charger.
  29. Books – Non-academic, but useful. We are partial to The Hangover Cookbook and The Naked Roommate.
  30. College Merch – Banners, Sweatshirts, Tees, Water Bottles… A college peep can’t ever have too much. 
  31. Facial regimen kit – Keeps the pimples and blackheads away. 
  32. Wall Map – Great for a college student who is living in a new city. Give them a map of the entire town. 
  33. Homesick merch – They will always appreciate a little reminder of home. Send them their favorite state food, or anything that features the shape of their home state. 
  34. Beauty products – Get them a monthly subscription for personalized makeup and hair care items.
  35. Electric toothbrush – Make sure to include some replacement heads. 
  36. Bed Sheets – Flannel for cooler months and linen for warmer months.
  37. Framed memories – To make them laugh and cry. (Greetabl makes it easy to send pictures and a frame!)
  38. Mini Keurig Coffee Maker – Replenish the K-cups in care packages.
  39. Plastic Shower caddy – Bonus points for filling it up with all the shower essentials.
  40. Mesh Bathroom Tote – Because everyone needs a nighttime ritual.
  41. Portable phone charger – Or two. Or twelve. 
  42. Laundry Hamper Backpack – Laundry with straps? What else will they think of? 
  43. Lounge Pants – Drawstrings are necessary… when the freshman 15 lingers.
  44. Reading Socks – Because they are the greatest socks EVAH. In fact, get yourself a pair while you are at it. No one should ever be without them in the winter months.
  45. Key/wallet and phone trackers – Because kids lose things. 
  46. Tool Set – They will be the hero who always has what someone else needs. 
  47. Memory foam pillow – A good example of an expensive gift that they would never buy themselves. 
  48. Roku Media Streamer – Turn any television set into a streaming channel machine. 
  49. Super Soft Throw Blanket – To bring to their friend’s dorm room instead of their entire comforter.
  50. Their name domain and website – Get them started early with their own website with their first and last name: SallyStudent.com or JohnCollege.com. Pay for annual hosting, and throw in some basic webpage set up. It’s never too early for them to create a professional page and an online resume.