22 Best Gifts for College Students That They’ll Actually Appreciate
Whether you're shopping for a soon-to-be graduate or a college newbie, our guide has you covered on the best gifts for college students.
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Finding the best gifts for college students is no easy feat. In fact, it may even fall under the category of finding gifts for people who are impossible to shop for. And while you may be a master of buying Secret Santa gifts or white elephant gifts, shopping for a college student—regardless of whether they’re a freshman or senior—can be quite tricky.
To make the task a bit less daunting, we consulted actual college students to find out the items at the top of their wish lists. We’ve got options for everyone, including gifts for writers, music lovers and even handmade gifts. So whether you’re buying for a foodie, travel lover or student athlete, you’ll find the best gifts for college students that they’ll actually want.
For the tech lover: Apple 10.2-inch iPad
If your college student is glued to their laptop, the addition of an iPad will be a welcome one. It’s an especially great pick aspiring doctors or nurses in med school, too. It has ten hours of battery life, two cameras and a wide 10.2-inch display that’s perfect for note taking, movie watching and snapping photos. This useful tech gift also pairs with a set of AirPods or an Apple Pencil to help maximize its usage.
For the goal setter: Ban.do 12-month Planner
Gifts for college students that help them achieve their academic aspirations are always a good idea. This 12-month planner includes year, month and week views to keep classes and extracurriculars organized; while the cover inscription (“endless possibilities”) provides positive inspiration. There’s also fun artwork, a coloring page and stickers to customize their planner. Consider adding some school essentials to go with it (like a set of rainbow pens!).
For the yogi: Lululemon Take Form Yoga Mat
Made with a sustainably-sourced natural rubber material, this Lululemon mat will be a welcome addition to any yoga session. It comes in four different color variations and features a special 3D-texture that will help them stay centered in their poses—without the need to check their position. Add this to your list of gifts for girlfriends or boyfriends who also adore yoga.
For budding photographers: Fujifilm Instax Mini Link Smartphone Printer
Got a teen who’s always taking photos with their iPhone or camera? Snag them one of these Fujifilm Instax Smartphone Printers. It’s one of the greatest gifts for photographers because it allows them to easily print their favorite shots onto Polaroids with just the click of a button.
For the sweet tooth: The Candy Sugarwish
Looking for gifts for college students who have a sweet tooth? Candy is a no-brainer. Sugarwish serves up 70 different delectable options, so each receiver can choose their favorite confection. Reasonably priced and packaged in an adorable gift box, Sugarwish also makes a great option for your sister-in-law.
For the TikToker: Lapel Microphone
Help your college student up their TikTok game with one of these mini microphones. They’re perfect for recording voiceovers on video diaries, hauls and more (and make a terrific gift for teens, too!). The best part? The microphone conveniently attaches to a phone for easy use.
For the commuter: Fjallraven Kanken Classic Backpack
A lightweight backpack is essential for any college commuter. An ergonomic design makes this Fjallraven pick comfortable to carry, and the water- and dirt-resistant material holds up to heavy use. There’s ample space to store books, a laptop and anything else needed for class and beyond. Bonus: It ships quickly, as do the rest of these Amazon Prime gifts.
For the pizza aficionado: Online Neapolitan Pizza Dough Course
Looking for gifts for college students that are out-of-the-box? Consider this experience gift for any pizza-obsessed co-ed (and let’s be honest, what undergrad doesn’t love pizza?). That’s right, gifting experiences can be an amazing gift idea. This two-hour video chat course will teach them how to make an authentic Neapolitan pizza straight from the experts in Naples, Italy.
For the coffee lover: Ember Temperature-Controlled Coffee Mug
Java-obsessed academics can keep their Joe warm with this app-controlled smart mug. Coffee stays hot for up to 1.5 hours, or all day when paired with the included charging coaster. You can even select the exact temperature you prefer. It’s a thoughtful and useful gift for coffee lovers.
For the stylish eco-warrior: WanderFull HydroBag
Know any students who don’t leave home without a reusable water bottle? This stylish and functional crossbody bag features a pocket specifically to fit water bottles, and has space for a phone and credit cards, too. The lightweight, water-resistant neoprene fabric and shoulder strap make it easy to carry around campus.
For runners: Bombas Running Ankle Socks
When searching for the perfect gift for runners, it’s best to start with the basics. These lightweight Bombas socks are made with a polyester/cotton yarn blend and have specific features—like airflow ventilation and extra cushioning in certain areas—that make them optimal for running, working out or any type of movement. They’re available in seven different colors and patterns, so you’ll be able to find one that fits their fitness style. Bonus: It’s a charitable gift that gives back. For every item purchased, the company donates one to someone in need.
For the green thumb: AeroGarden Harvest
Your favorite plant lover will thank you endlessly for this AeroGarden. It fits seamlessly into small spaces—like a dorm room or apartment—and grows an assortment of items ranging from herbs to salad greens. The best part? It’s relatively low maintenance and won’t make a mess like traditional plants. This easy-to-use indoor garden would also make a great gift for neighbors with limited backyard space.
For artists: Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Set
Whether they’re an art major or just have a love of painting, they’ll adore this watercolor paint collection. Each set is made with Gansai, a traditional Japanese watercolor, and is intended to mimic the hues seen in nature. However, if painting isn’t their thing, one of these other gifts for artists will definitely win them over.
For the student athlete: Theragun Mini
College students who are serious about athletics will swoon over the Theragun Mini. It helps relieve muscle soreness and tension after a long practice. It also improves mobility and range of motion following an intense sweat session. The small size stashes in any workout bag and easily stores in tiny dorm rooms. Snag one as a gift for men with an active lifestyle, too.
For the beauty connoisseur: Dyson Airwrap Multi-Styler
Chances are your beauty-obsessed college student is all over TikTok, so they’ll jump with joy when you gift them the viral Dyson Airwrap. This styling tool uses special technology to create a salon-worthy blowout from the comfort of their own dorm room. It can expertly blow out, curl, straighten and dry hair with as minimal heat damage as possible, which is why it has earned its award-winning status.
For a motivation boost: “You Got This” Bracelet
Adjusting to college life can be hard. If you know a student who needs a little motivation, this thoughtful bracelet will serve up some stylish inspiration. The hand-crafted crystal beaded design reads, “You got this,” and will be a daily reminder you believe in them. At only $25, this bracelet also makes a great cheap Christmas gift.
For the one with a new apartment: Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set
There’s something about wrapping yourself in a set of cozy sheets that instantly makes a place feel like home, which is why this Brooklinen set is one of the best gifts for college students. The Luxe Sateen Sheets are Brooklinen’s bestsellers and loved for their soft cotton construction, 480 thread count and wide range of gorgeous hues. Plus, they make outstanding housewarming gifts, too.
For the travel enthusiast: Away The Everywhere Bag
If they’re always hopping on planes, trains or buses to explore new destinations, this versatile Away bag will be their new favorite travel companion. Trust us, it’s one of the best gifts for travelers. Jet-setters will appreciate the full wrap-around zip opening for easy access to its spacious interior, the water-resistant fabric and the trolley sleeve that conveniently attaches to suitcases. It also works as a daily class or gym bag. Or, if you’re lucky, an overnight bag to visit you! Pair it with a toiletry bag for the ultimate travel gift.
For the sentimental student: Pandora Moments Heart Clasp Bangle
Searching for gift ideas for college girls? There’s something about adding a charm for every special occasion that makes a Pandora bracelet so meaningful. This particular bangle is stylish enough to be worn alone at first. Then, with time, she’ll add charms to commemorate important moments and life events. It’s a bauble your giftee will truly cherish, especially if it’s a gift for a best friend.
For the expert cook: Caraway Home Non-Stick Ceramic Frying Pan
Sure, there are ample baking gifts available, but this Caraway pan is a true kitchen staple that will last beyond their college years. The non-stick skillet makes it easy to cook everything from eggs to veggies. The minimalist design (choose from three neutral hues) will look fabulous in any kitchen as they move from dorm room to apartment. Also nice: It falls under the category of great graduation gifts, too.
For the foodie: Harry & David Snack Box
The best gifts for college students are the kind you can consume (and share with friends)! Give scholars a reprieve from crummy campus grub with this mixture of sweet and savory snacks. It’s filled with treats like hickory-smoked summer sausage, creamy aged white cheddar and caramel popcorn to satisfy any foodie’s tastebuds.
For the DIYer: Resin Jewelry Kit
Whether they’re painting dorm decor or creating cute personalized gifts for friends, your DIYer will adore another activity to master in their free time. This resin jewelry set contains all the tools and materials to make up to ten one-of-a-kind baubles. The affordable kit also allows them to try their hand at a typically expensive craft from the comfort of their dorm.