Great Gifts for College Students

gifts for college students

Sometimes it seems impossible to come up with good gifts for college students, but with the proper insight and perspective, you can find the best token of love and affection that any undergrad could possible hope for.

Check our list of things to buy and areas to consider which can make dorm life better, college easier, off time funner, and college-aged students happier, and you’ll be off and running the next time you need to make a special gift purchase or finish your family holidays shopping spree.


Things that the student asks for

This may seem like a “well, duh” point.  However, the trick to getting the best gifts for college students is to ask and listen to more than just what they say they want.

While college students may tell you they would like guitar stuff, they probably have specific ideas of exactly what guitar stuff they would want or could use.  Simply purchasing something in a general area of interest or need is not going to be satisfying to either the giver or receiver if the item or items didn’t fit the bill, so to say.

Instead of just looking for whatever guitar “stuff” you can find on sale, or that you simply just find, ask your future recipient what guitar stuff they could really use, and ask for specifics too.  What kind of item?

Is there a specific brand, model, or size they like?  Is there a specific color that they like best?  If it’s a larger item, would they accept one that is used, and if so, would this be something you could purchase for them, or should you have them work on the purchase with you?

If you haven’t had a college student help you with their own purchase before, believe me, it’s still fun for them to get it at Christmas or on their special day.  It really is, and they’ll be so much happier getting just what their heart desired or what they needed most of all.  It’s also OK to be specific right back with your college student too when taking their gift needs and desires into account.  Let them know how much you have to spend, but also clarify that you don’t mind getting several smaller things or one larger thing, however it works best for the one that is to receive the present.

Things that make their dorm room or bedroom at home nicer

Regardless of whether the student is living in a dorm room or living at home while going to college, college students can appreciate a nicer, friendlier study and sleeping area.

Sometimes the usual gift of blankets and pillows might be in order, but perhaps a special occasion calls for a special gift.  A memory foam mattress pad makes a good gift that will not only lift a hard-studying student’s spirits but which will also provide a much more comfortable place to sleep and relax.  Some students of this age may enjoy soft, silk sheets, and some may enjoy luxury flannel sheets, but buying something that makes the student feel really, really comfortable is an important step in getting a gift for a undergraduate.

Bedding covers and bedroom décor can also be nice items to give to someone in college, and choices in this area could range from pink or black down comforters or black and white toile bedding to a whimsical, old favorite cartoon bed in a bag.

A heated mattress pad, if permitted in the dormitory guidelines, can be a special gift.  Comfy, themed throw pillows, large silly, wall clocks or movie posters, and personalized laundry bags also make great birthday or Christmas gifts for college students.

gifts for college students

Ahhhhhh… Almost like home!
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Things that make their study desk a better place to be

While students at college may be tired of studying and dream of a break in the old routine, study time continues never the less.  Finding special items that make this major, time consuming job of theirs a little easier for them can and does rank up there as a good area for gift giving, and you’ll not only be making someone’s life a little easier, you can feel better knowing you had a part, if only an itty bitty part, in helping them in their study work.

Nice pen sets are still popular with students, but if you go this route, find a nice set like a Cross pen set, or find a hand carved pen set from a local artist.  A good desk lamp is always welcome if the student doesn’t already have such a personal desk accessory, and lava lamps are also nice additions for when reading has just become too burdensome and the reader wants to just look at anything but a book for a few minutes.

Comfortable computer chairs may not be thought of initially as an item to give someone, but once one is received and used on a regular basis, they can be one of the best gifts for college students around.  Reliable office supplies may also be a godsend to a struggling young adult although you may want to package these in a fun way and include some fun items or novelties such as a darth vador alarm clock, chia pets, or custom bobble heads for a good laugh among the common sense.

Things that help a college student relax

Even if you don’t remember or never understood how stressful college life can be, you can rest assured that there is plenty of stress and frustration during this time of life.  College students who are working hard and care about what they are doing have a difficult time just stepping back to relax sometimes.

However, a wise person who cares about the overall well being of a college student knows that rest and relaxation is very important to keep going during this hectic and competitive time.

Gifts that help relieve pent up anxiety or provide a means of doing something relaxing can be some of the top gifts for college students.

Small gift cards to fast food stops can always be quickly pulled out at the last minute when a student feels the need to get away from the books.  Gift cards to a bowling alley close to the college or to a nearby movie theater will be used at just the right time, both when the student needs a break and when they can not afford to go to a new movie premier with friends on a slow homework weekend.  A prepaid gas card can be put into use to provide what is needed to come home some weekend when college finances might otherwise not have permitted.

Prepaid tuition or fees for scuba diving lessons, a hot air balloon ride, or concert tickets for a concert nearby the college can be just the thing to bring a hard working college student back to life.

Regardless of how much work there is to do while in college, everyone benefits from experiencing some joy and laughter along the way.

One word of caution here, though, is to make sure you are considering what the college student would enjoy, not you, and verify that any event or attraction you might purchase tickets or entrance fees to is close enough to the student that the gift can be utilized.

Things they can stick into their mouths

Sugar free gum, bubble gum, and old fashioned spearmint gum are all items that most college students will use and enjoy.  Sun chips, granola bars, and pop tarts are also popular items among students who are either up late at night studying or up late in the morning without enough time to go to the cafeteria or make breakfast before their first class.

Themed gift baskets for college students are great places to add food items a college student might enjoy any time of the day, and adding anything from popcorn and Skittles to a movie DVD gift basket to marshmallow cream and peanut butter to a picnic tailgating gift basket can make any non-food gift basket a little extra special.

gift baskets for college students

Always add food to college gift baskets!
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Things which help the college student communicate with others

Believe me, if there is one thing a college student wants to know, it’s that he or she is not alone in this world.

Cool cell phones and cell phone accessories maintain their contact with the world.  An ebook reader gives them millions of books at their fingertips.  Cameras and photo accessories give them the opportunity to catch and keep moments of their lives with friends during their college years.  Even a single family portrait lovingly placed by mom into a pretty picture frame and ready to place on a student’s desk reminds them of the loved ones who adore them and miss them on a daily basis.

While it is certainly hard to study so much and to always be completing all kinds of busy work on all kinds of schedules throughout a semester, there is never enough work to keep a college student from knowing there is still life and loved ones outside the covers of a book.

College students need to communicate with others.  Help them to connect with others as much as you can, and realize that it is OK for them to do so.  It just means they are part of God’s creation of humankind.

Things which help the college student connect with others

While this may at first seem like the same items that provide opportunities for college students to communicate with others, this is different.

By connecting with others, not communicating but connecting, we physically share more in-person time with others and are better able to build more long-lasting friendships with those we spend the most time with.

College students enjoy being with other people and especially other college students, and providing ways for them to do that can not only help them build good friendships with some good friends while in college but also help maintain and build upon good relationships with old friends and family members as well.

Updated laptops and netbooks are always good candidates for gift giving, but a parent who sets up a Facebook account or who twitters or skypes to keep in touch with their college-age child adds a special ingredient to a young adult’s life.

Table games and decks of cards can be great gifts that college students can use to spend some off time with good friends at college, but sitting down and having a game night at home when a college student has made a trip home or is home for the evening is equally important.

On the other hand, giving gifts that help a student reach out to others at college, like an easy 4-ingredient cookbook so a college student can entertain a group of friends some evening in the dormitory kitchen, or a larger-sized gift certificate to Red Lobster or Olive Garden in the student’s college town which provides the opportunity for the student to invite and share a dinner with a good friend, compliments of mom and dad, can be ways that tell a young, grown-up son or daughter that their personal life and social development is important to their mom and dad, even when mom and dad are not in the picture.

Then, being available to do fun things with them, on their limited time frame and with their needs and likes in mind, is something a parent can give to them which gives joy beyond measure, both to the parents and to the young adult whom mom and dad cares for ever so much.

I’m sure there are other things you could think of to give to a college student which would make a good gift, and maybe some of these items didn’t seem to quite fit the undergrad you know.

However, when you think of these individuals, remember their needs and desires during this very special time of their lives, and add to that a little research, a little asking and listening, sometimes a little creativity or humor, and always a lot of love and respect, and it will become more and more evident how you can find just the right gifts for the college students you know and love.

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