The 30 Best Gifts for College Students
The perfect presents for the little academic in your life.
Going off to college is rarely an easy transition—not just you as a parent, but for your teenagers, too. And though today’s 100-level courses and cafeteria food may remain as bland as when you were in college, there are plenty of ways to make your kids' college experiences a little bit more fun. So, whether your kid is spending their first birthday away from home or you just want to pass along a care package, read on to discover some truly amazing gifts for the college student in your life. And for more amazing back-to-school buys, check out the 25 Best Backpacks for College Students.
Best Life's editors have scoured the internet to bring you the best products out there, and we're hoping you'll love them as much as we do. Full disclosure: we may earn a commission for anything you purchase through links on this page, but that doesn't mean you'll pay more for them (we'd never do that to you!). Pricing and availability are accurate as of the piece's initial publication date, but it's the internet and we can't guarantee that these sweet, sweet deals will last forever, so scoop them up before someone else does!
The 5-Ingredient College Cookbook
$14; buy now at Target
Let’s face it: Even the best cafeteria food is still, well, cafeteria food. For the college student whose palate is a little more refined, this five-ingredient cookbook can make creating healthy, gourmet meals a breeze.
This "Things They Don’t Teach in School" game
$20; buy now at Uncommon Goods
Sure, you’re paying a pretty penny for your kids to learn, but they can’t teach everything at school. And for all the stuff those courses leave out, there’s this hilarious game, which covers everything from the Mona Lisa's eyebrows (or lack thereof) to the invention of shampoo.
This stylish laptop bag
$135; buy now at Dagne Dover
Toting around that laptop from class to class doesn’t have to mean lugging around a bulky bag. For the stylish student in your life, there’s this Dagne Dover laptop case, made of an easy-to-clean and protective neoprene. And for more great arm candy, check out these 27 Gorgeous Beach Bags You Can Use All Year.
These shearling slippers
From $70; by now at L.L. Bean
Even the most luxe dorm rooms are unlikely to have radiant flooring—and nothing’s worse than waking up and immediately having your feet hit a freezing cold floor. So, to help avoid those chilly piggies, there’s this popular pair of shearling-lined slippers; they’re so loved, in fact, that the company has sold more than 4 million pairs to date!
This portable French fry power bank
$25; buy now at Urban Outfitters
If your kids’ phone batteries are constantly hovering around the 0 percent mark, make it easier for them to call home on a regular basis with this cute French fry power bank.
This oversized velvet floor cushion
$35; buy now at Target
Of the many things you’ll find in a dorm room—desks, textbooks, that guy from biology class who came by to study and never left—ample seating is unlikely to be one of them. For any student who could use some more space to host friends, this comfy velvet cushion is a must-have.
This retro mini fridge
$100; buy now at Best Buy
Whether they're chilling seltzer or their nightly eye mask, this retro fridge is an adorable (and compact) addition to any small space.
This cozy faux fur throw
$49; buy now at Nordstrom
Who says that dorm room bedding can’t be stylish? This cozy fur throw will make even the most bare bones room look like a million bucks. And for things that don't belong at college, check out these 30 Things You Should Never Keep in Your Dorm Room.
The Zero Waste Cookbook
$20; buy now at ban.do
Looking for a meal plan that will benefit your kids’ health and budgets? With The Zero Waste Cookbook, your kids will learn the time-honored—and eco-friendly—art of making meals without a lot left over.
This charging station
$25; buy now at Urban Outfitters
Keep those devices contained and fully juiced with this charging station, which holds wireless earbuds, an Apple Watch, and an iPhone in one petite package.
This Cards Against Humanity Set
$25; buy now at Amazon
Games you don’t want your kids playing in college: beer pong, mumblety peg, strip anything. Games that are just as fun that don’t run the risk of arrest or maiming: Cards Against Humanity.
This colorful lightning cable
$10; buy now at Rue21
Living with a roommate is hard enough without constant fights over who stole whose phone cable. Luckily, with this rainbow version, that problem will be a thing of the past.
This rainbow planner
$28; buy now at ban.do
Sure, every phone has a calendar on it these days, but for those dates they absolutely can’t afford to miss a notification for, there’s always this trustworthy (and adorable) paper planner.
This Mario Bros. Sugarfina bento box
$30; buy now at Nordstrom
Short of Dominique Ansel taking up residency at a college, it’s unlikely that most college students are getting much in the way of great desserts. However, if they’re still eager to satisfy that sugar fix, there’s always this Sugarfina bento box that comes in cute Super Mario Bros. packaging.
This color-changing water bottle
$25; buy now at Uncommon Goods
College students are bound to find themselves parched on a regular basis, whether they're too busy to stop at the water fountain between classes or have been sweating through one too many games of Ultimate. And for those occasions, there’s this color-changing water bottle, guaranteed to convince anyone to drink up. And for more adorable ways to contain your drinks, check out these 25 Cute Water Bottles That Will Keep You Hydrated.
This single cup Keurig machine
$90$60; buy now at Target
Cafeteria coffee got you down? Then keep your own preferred brew on hand and enjoy it before class with this single cup Keurig machine.
This tabletop trinket storage box
$40; buy now at World Market
Don’t let those beloved baubles get lost after a night out. With this trinket storage box, they’ll always be safely tucked away.
This silk pillowcase
From $85; buy now at Nordstrom
Bedhead doesn’t have to be a staple of college living. With this silk pillowcase, anyone can wake up to a good hair day.
This Shake-N-Wake silent alarm clock
$20; buy now at Urban Outfitters
The only thing more annoying than living with a roommate? Living with one who freaks out the second your alarm goes off for an 8 a.m. class. To keep those tension-filled mornings to a minimum, there’s this alarm clock watch, which wakes you up silently so your roomie can keep sleeping.
This Pearl the Unicorn Doormat
$32; buy now at Uncommon Goods
Greet your guests and let them know what they can expect when they cross the threshold into your dorm room by placing this Pearl the Unicorn doormat outside your door. Magic awaits!
This fox manicure set
$14; buy now at World Market
While there may not be a good spa within 50 miles of campus, you can give the college student in your life the next best thing: this fox manicure set, perfect for taming those crusty cuticles.
This postcard set
$12; buy now at ban.do
Wish you received a little more communication from the college student in your life? Even if they only return every third text, they might be more inclined to drop you a line from time to time with this cute postcard set handy.
This office supply tackle box
$39; buy now at Paper Source
With magnets, binder clips, push pins, sticky notes, a pencil sharpener, a mechanical pencil, and a highlighter, this set has everything a student could need or want to tackle those never-ending essays and reports. And if your student has a habit of being messy, then make sure you inform them of these 20 Genius Tricks for Having a Perfectly Organized Desk.
This self-heating ceramic mug
$80; buy now at Urban Outfitters
Cold coffee from the cafeteria? Hard pass. With this programmable ceramic mug, the college student in your life will never have to suffer through a lukewarm cup again.
This Tardis USB hub
$37; buy now at Target
In small spaces, cable consolidation is key—and with this Tardis USB hub, all those potentially tangled wires will be kept in one tidy place.
This organic chili pepper growing kit
$35; buy now at World Market
While there may not be enough space in the average dorm to plant a full garden, your child can always grow their own chili peppers with this convenient kit. These flavorful bad boys are perfect for spicing up those bland cafeteria meals.
This polka dot bath wrap
$39; buy now at Nordstrom
The bad news: There’s little that can be done about the grossness of communal showers. The good news: Your child can at least avoid flashing all their hall mates on the way out with this polka dot bath wrap.
These glass straws
$18; buy now at ban.do
Instead of grabbing yet another plastic straw from the cafeteria, your college-aged kid can put their environmentalist ideals to work by using these stylish glass straws instead. Saving the planet has never looked so good.
This washable lunch bag
$39; buy now at Uncommon Goods
Whether they’re toting leftovers back to the dorm or carrying around snacks between classes, this washable lunch bag is sure to come in handy for any college kid.
This straightening brush
$145; buy now at Nordstrom
No time for a blowout? No problem. With this straightening brush, the college-aged person in your life can look like they just stepped out of the salon and still make it to that early lecture on time. And for more grooming essentials, check out these 30 Summer Beauty Products That Sweat-Proof Your Look.
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