10 Gift Ideas for Your College Student They Actually Want

Merry happy happy merry! It’s the holiday season! What should you give a college student (besides cash?) There are actually things that they both want and need that won’t get you a glazed-over “oh thanks” during the holiday gift-giving. Here’s a few of our favorite gift ideas, and they’ve been reviewed and approved by actual, real-life college students.

Our Favorite Gift Ideas for College Students

1. Hydro Flasks are IN.

Hydration is important! A real Hydro Flask will be nice enough that they won’t leave it somewhere, and stylish too. And many campuses have water bottle fountains all around campus, cutting down on buying bottles!

2. Coffee Coffee Coffee

Keurigs are still super popular, and the mini version of the single-serve appliance fits easily in any dorm room. Combine it with a set of refillable K-cups and they can save the earth at the same time.

headphones3. Headphones. And Then More Headphones.

Headphones, and a variety of them, will make your student happy. Big over the ear ones for studying, along with some cheap ok-to-lose-or-get-wet ones, and then a showstopper earbud Bluetooth pair to finish off the gift.

RELATED: Scholarship Searches Don’t Take A Holiday

4. A Variety of Charging Cables

This set of FIVE charging cables comes with a variety of lengths, and it’s covered in a nylon braided cord so it’s not going to fray. A bunch of cords also gives them enough to leave one at their desk, in their bag, in the car… you get the picture. One charging cable is never enough.

5. Power Strip With USB Ports

USB power stripStaying with the electric theme with our gift ideas, we don’t know of a college student who can’t use some more SAFE outlets in their dorm room or apartment. A power strip that already has USB ports in it (and a lot of them) cuts down on the need for adapters and frees up space altogether.

6. Wait, One More Power Gift

We know it seems like overkill with this theme, but a heavy-duty, serious portable battery can be worth its weight in gold to a student stuck on campus for a long time, and their phones are their lifelines (and yours!)

7. The Gift of Travel

Any student with a car needs gas money, and gas station gift cards are an easy way to help out with that. Research the best prices near their campus on GasBuddy.com to figure out locations. City or suburban dwelling students who rely public transportation would love their MetroCard or SmarTrip card topped off (and you can do this online — just research the city!)  Letting your student find and plan their own adventures is a wonderful gift, and Airbnb is a safe and trusted way for young people to see the world. Make it a fully-themed gift and throw in some air travel cards too.

RELATED: Some Great Graduation Gifts

8. Music Music Music

Gone are the days of CDs (but you knew that right?) Students are used to downloading or streaming whatever song strikes them in the moment, and they need subscriptions to Spotify, Pandora, or Apple Music for that. And you might enjoy it too. Check and see what kind of family plans you can get, depending on usage. If your student is a real audiophile, see if they have a vinyl bug. Many do right now! You might be able to create a great gift of both “physical” and “digital” music for them.

9. The Gift That Keeps On Giving: The Subscription Box

Looking for something to give them love all year long? Subscription boxes are the thing. A new box of goodies is delivered directly to your student for a monthly set price. Check out this awesome post from Urban Tastebud, detailing 23 subscription boxes catering to the college-aged student.

10. And Finally: Cash but with a twist… Venmo it.

If you’re not on Venmo, you’re not really giving your student money. Venmo has quickly become the way to get cash quickly, and in a form they’re going to use. Think of it as PayPal for the 21st century. Students pay each other using Venmo all the time, from splitting up pizza to the electric bill, and more stores and vendors are using it as well.  You’ll see that it’s easy and quick. If you’re like my daughter and me, you’ll probably end up passing the same $20 back and forth.

Whatever you end up getting for your student during this festive time of year, we wish you the happiest of Christmases, the brightest of Hanukkahs, and the safest and jolliest of New Years!


Full disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means we get a commission if you click through a make a purchase. And happily, it doesn’t cost anything more to you!