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15 Great Holiday Gifts for College Students

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The clock is ticking! If you missed those Black Friday bargains altogether or just need a few last minute gifts to wrap up your Christmas shopping, now is the time to hit the stores or pay for expedited shipping from your favorite online retailers.

Whether your favorite student is already in college or will be starting shortly, the following holiday gifts will help make his or her holiday a little bit brighter.

1. College apparel.

Hoodies and T-shirts bearing your son or daughter’s college—or the name of the college that he or she plans on attending in the near future—are an easy pick. If you live nearby or the school has a popular athletics program, you may be able to find some things in a local big box retailer. If not, check out the campus bookstore or the school’s website.

2. Gift cards.

Just about everyone loves gift cards. They’re available for clothing stores, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. They also drastically lessen the risk of your present being re-gifted!

3. Subscriptions.

Subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Purchase your special someone a year’s worth of their favorite magazine or even their annual Xbox Live subscription. Not a fan of magazines of video games? Offer to pre-pay for twelve months of Hulu or Netflix. Monthly gift box subscriptions, which arrive in the mail each month, are available with nearly anything you can think of—from beauty products to groceries.

4. Money for college.

Money that has been specifically set aside for college while your student is still in high school may seem like a “boring” gift to some teens, but they’ll be glad you did when that student loan paperwork starts accumulating.

5. Cash.

Cash—for college or anything else—may seem impersonal, but it won’t be returned or exchanged. In fact, many young adults prefer cash to actual Christmas presents.

6. College guidebooks.

College guidebooks are a great way for your high school freshman or sophomore to start researching colleges, learning about potential majors, and understanding accreditation and other important factors. Just be sure to remind them to read more about schools at StateUniversity.com, too!

7. Blank books.

Journals and blank books can be used for a variety of purposes, from taking notes during class to writing shopping lists or making mini-scrapbooks. They aren’t those basic marble composition notebooks you had during elementary school—many of the blank books available today are beautifully bound and decorated. They can even serve as mementos down the line.

8. Headphones.

Ear buds are definitely convenient, but they don’t always provide great quality audio. They can also become uncomfortable if you wear them for long periods of time. A pair of quality headphones can help cancel out noise while feeling a lot comfier.

9. Digital media player.

Cable TV is declining in popularity thanks to the ability to download or stream television shows and movies over the internet. A digital media player such as the Roku or Apple TV will allow your college student to keep up on their favorite shows without spending a small fortune on that DVR each month.

10. Reusable water bottle.

Help your teen stay hydrated while saving the earth with a reusable water bottle! They are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Better yet, many come with filters to help tap water seem tastier.

11. Coffee maker.

Two bucks for a cup of coffee may not seem too bad, but it adds up quickly if you buy several throughout the week. A single cup coffee maker can help slash that coffee budget drastically.

12. College textbooks.

Aside from computers, which you won’t have to replace every single semester, textbooks are probably the most expensive supplies you will ever have to buy during college. Cash or a check designated for textbooks, or even a gift card to your student’s campus bookstore, will help ease the burden of buying books come January.

13. Food.

Cans of soup and boxes of mac and cheese may not be anyone’s idea of a thoughtful gift, but non-perishable foods can make a great addition to a “college care package” gift basket and they’ll definitely come in handy. Goodies like mints, gum, beef jerky, and other items with long shelf lives will also be a hit.

14. Basic necessities kit / first aid kit.

Speaking of care packages, items like Band-Aids, pain reliever, and cotton balls usually aren’t at the top of teens’ list of priorities when heading back to college. Create a necessities kit or purchase a pre-made first aid kit to ensure your student has the things they will likely forget to bring from home and won’t want to purchase.

15. Television.

A small LED TV can be used to watch Netflix or Hulu, but it will also come in handy as a computer monitor. Laptops are convenient, but plugging in a second monitor will help make writing while researching a lot easier on the eyes.

As you can see, it’s possible to find a special something for that special someone in your life whatever your holiday shopping budget may be.

Read More:

Going Shopping? 25 Gifts for College Students

Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas: Shopping on a Student Budget


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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