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Going Shopping? 25 Gifts for College Students

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The holidays are in full swing and you know what that means—it’s time to take care of those last-minute gifts and cross everyone’s name off your shopping list. Young people can picky and many of them have tastes that change frequently, but these presents and stocking stuffers are perfect for nearly any college student.

25 Holiday Gift Ideas for College Students

1. Phone. Most college students are just about attached to their cell phones, but a phone upgrade would make a great gift from Mom and Dad, especially if they also pay the phone bill!

2. iPod / iPad. The Apple iPod has changed the way we listen to music and the Apple iPad is probably the trendiest tablet on the market. Both items are favorites of college students.

3. Laptop. Students use laptops nearly as much as they use their phones, and a new laptop will probably have them jumping for joy as soon as they rip off the wrapping paper.

4. Scanner Pen. Scanner pens are portable handheld scanners that can easily scan notes or other text into a computer for easier management. A perfect gift for detailed note-takers.

5. Alarm Clock. Waking up early is never fun, but a new alarm clock is a great way to help your favorite student make it to class on time. iPod alarm clock docks are an easy way to charge your iPod overnight and wake up to your favorite tunes.

6. Electronics Accessories. If you’re going to have cool gadgets, you need cool accessories! Headphones, speakers, chargers, laptop bags and cell phone cases are just a few common electronics accessories that college students love to receive.

7. Coffee Maker. Coffee has been a staple of college students for decades and trips to the campus Starbucks can add up quickly. A new coffee maker is a great addition to any dorm room, especially if it’s a single-serve brewer that uses individual coffee pods.

8. Food. It’s easy to get sick of eating in the cafeteria and ramen noodles don’t always cut it, which means that food is a great gift! Yummy non-perishable food items will definitely be appreciated when the late night munchies strike.

9. Magazine subscriptions. It’s always fun to get something in the mail besides bills. Your college student will think of you every month when “your” magazine arrives.

10. Pillows. When it comes to comfort, dorm room beds leave something to be desired. A pair of top quality pillows and set of matching pillow cases will help!

11. Cash. Cash is quite possibly the most appreciated gift of all. It might seem impersonal, but a few bucks will go a long way.

12. Gift Cards. Gift cards are almost as good as cash! Gift cards to coffee shops, restaurants, and supercenters like Wal-Mart and Target are favorites.

13. TV Shows on DVD. An entire season of a TV series on DVD will provide hours and hours of study-break entertainment. Find out your student’s favorite show and get them a season or two.

14. Netflix Subscription. DVD rental by mail is another good alternative—a new show or movie is always available.

15. Cookbooks. There are plenty of different cookbooks for college students. Select one that can help teach your student how to cook creatively on a budget with limited space and equipment—in a dorm kitchen or dorm room!

16. Gym Membership. There might be a fitness center on campus, but some students like to get away from school every now and then. Locate a gym that’s nearby and get your student a gym membership to use during the school year. They’ll think of you every time they work out.

17. Photo Frames. College students love to decorate their dorms. Cute photo frames can be displayed on the wall or on your student’s desk.

18. Water Pitcher with Filter and Bottles. Bottled water can add up quickly, but a pitcher with a Brita water filter and some reusable water bottles is an easy way to handle the problem.

19. Socks. A boring basic that always comes in handy.

20. Underwear. Goes great with socks.

21. Laundry Gift Basket. Doing laundry is a dreaded chore, especially when it’s done in the dorm laundry room. A laundry basket complete with detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets and a few rolls of quarters is a great “essentials” gift that will be appreciated.

22. Movie Tickets. A couple of movie tickets is an easy way to provide a safe night of fun.

23. Textbooks. Textbooks might not sound like a glamorous gift, but a gift card to your student’s college bookstore will help ease the burden of spending a bundle at the start of the new semester. They’ll thank you repeatedly.

24. Ebook Reader. Ebook readers such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble nook are two great ebook readers. Let your student have a library at their fingertips!

25. Massage. A gift certificate for a professional massage will definitely come in handy when the stress of the semester starts taking its toll!

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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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Proud to be Mom over 6 years ago Proud to be Mom


I decided to reward my son with a gift do to his focus and hard work at school. He is so much lie his Dad in the way that he puts everything into whatever he is working on. I travel for work through Dish Network and therefor I'm not at home as much as I'd like but my son and I keep in touch via text and email. His Dad is always filling me in on the details I don't hear from my son, it's fine in that way since I don't want to embarrass him. So as a gift my husband and I decided to get him an iPad with an extra gift built in. We had already gotten a Dish Sling Adapter since I travel and could use the distraction from time to time. So we loaded the Dish Remote Access application into the iPad before giving it to him. Now he has access to all our programming as well as any DVR recordings which I sometimes add something in there that I know he'll like. He's told me how happy he is to have the added entertainment since he is working pretty hard with a double major on his hands. he's a special kid and deserves all the best in life, I have no doubt he'll get it.