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Gifts college students actually want AND need this year

Foolproof year-round gifts!

Sarah Xu

December 12, 2023



When it comes to gift-giving for college students, there’s what they want… and what they need. While many students "girl math" their way to buying the essentials (like soap) on a budget, here are items they are for sure not "girl math-ing" their way to and truly need 🙈 Whether you're a fellow student searching for a budget-friendly surprise or a family member willing to splurge, we've curated a list of practical and meaningful gift ideas that cater to different price points!

Find your perfect gift for the student this year below:

Gifts from Students to Students:

1️⃣ Stationery Essentials (Under $20):

A set of quality pens, notebooks, and sticky notes can help a student stay organized during lectures and study sessions!

Brands to consider:

  • Papier: Great journals and planners with the cutest designs for students 

  • Moleskine: Sturdy and lasting notebooks with choices in size and lining

  • Muji: Trendy pens and pencils, and basic notebooks for the minimalist 

  • Papermate: Wide range of all different pens, colors, and collections

2️⃣ Coffee or Tea (Under $50):

Caffeine is a student's best friend, so a subscription or hefty supply is a gift that keeps on giving!

  • Chamberlain Coffee: Great quality and trendy coffee, cold brews bags, and matcha

  • Coffee monthly subscription to a coffee shop near them (Panera Bread, Peet’s Coffee, Blue Bottle Coffee)

3️⃣ Dorm Decor (Under $100):

Decor items like art prints, string lights, or fake plants can add a personal touch without breaking the bank. Help make your friend’s dorm more homey! 

  • Target: Find literally anything, from storage organization to fake plants and amazing blankets

  • Dormify: Great for light decorations, wall decorations, and more

  • Society6: The cutest art prints and trendiest patterns for bedroom decor

  • Etsy: Amazing to find wall lights (custom and trendy) and art prints

  • Urban Outfitters: Colorful and fun bedding, decor, and kitchen

  • Home Goods: Great to find neutrals and basics such as blankets, organization, and decor

4️⃣ Quality Headphones (The Big Spender💰):

A quality pair of noise-canceling headphones or earbuds can be a game-changer for any student. 

  • Airpod Pros

  • JBL Free X

  • Beats by Dre

Gifts from Family to Students:

1️⃣ Technology (Under $500 - $1000):

A more substantial gift option, a new laptop, tablet, or nice headphones can greatly benefit a student's academic endeavors. 

  • iPad Pro

  • Macbook Pro

  • Mac Mini (for a cheaper option)

  • HP Spectre x360

  • Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

  • Airpod Max

  • Sony WH-1000XM4

2️⃣ Cooking Appliances (Under $50 - $200):

For those living off-campus or in apartments, kitchen appliances like a microwave, toaster oven, or a compact blender can be extremely handy. 

  • Air fryer

  • Electric kettle

  • Electric whisk (for their matcha!)

  • Stanley or Owala water bottle

  • Instant pot/rice cooker

3️⃣ Clothing:

The 2 most expensive categories of clothes students will want in college are athletic and professional clothing!

  • Athletic: Lululemon, Alo, Gymshark, Nike, Adidas, Set Active

  • Professional: Zara, Uniqlo, H&M, Abercrombie and Fitch, ASOS

4️⃣ Care Packages (Varies):

Sometimes, it's not about the cost but the thought behind a gift. Sending a care package filled with homemade treats, personal notes, or small, meaningful trinkets can be a heartwarming gesture that lets students know they are loved and missed!

🎁 When selecting gifts for college students, the key is to consider their needs and lifestyle. It's not about the price tag but the thought and functionality of the gift that truly matters! By selecting presents that enhance a student's college experience and help them achieve academic success, you’ll be adding to their wellness in college and give them a little more budgeting space for the essentials… like dish soap 😉