Over 100 holiday gift ideas for your college student

If you have a college student, or an about-to-be college student, you may be searching for some ideas for useful or fun gifts.

You know your student best, and can tap into interests and needs, but we’d like to offer some suggestions that may stimulate your imagination.

Check out our ideas, and then let your own creativity take over!

Note: We think these are great gift ideas for your student no matter where you purchase them.  If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.

Spinning Decision Maker paperweight

Students have decisions to make all of the time.  This might be a fun way to consider the options.  And it holds your papers down, too!

Goodnight Dorm Room: All the Advice I Wish I Got Before I Went to College

With a nod to that children’s classic we all loved, this is a fun way to share some college advice.

Exploding Kittens Card Game

Rather a strange name for a game, but that might be just why your college student loves it!

Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You: A Journal

Based on the famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, this journal will help your student think about life and taking the chances that make sense.

Phone Camera Lens

Your student can use this lens to get creative with a phone camera.

Laser Cut Wood Journal

Elegant, and definitely different.  Your student’s notebook won’t get mixed up with anyone else’s at school.

Ostrich Pillow — Travel Pillow

OK, this looks just plain silly.  But students are champion nappers, and this might just elevate that to a new art.

Batman 2-slice Toaster

Who doesn’t want their superhero represented at breakfast?

Virtual Reality Headset

A little outrageous, but this has to be a lot of fun!

LED Portable Projector

If your student loves to watch movies (and what student doesn’t) this will let them watch with others without hovering around the laptop.  Their dorm room becomes a movie theater!

Mini Projector

If your student is looking for something even more portable, this projector will fit in their pocket and still allow movie viewing.

Breakfast Sandwich Maker

Do you have your fingers crossed that your student eats breakfast in the morning?  Does your student love those take-out breakfast sandwiches?  This may be a solution that makes you both happy!

Heated Gloves

Whether your student is walking to class, cleaning snow off the car, or waiting for the bus, these gloves will keep their hands warm.

Indoor Herb Growing Kit

Does your student cook? There’s nothing like throwing a few fresh herbs in scrambled eggs to make it feel like a gourmet offering — and provide a little extra nutrition!

Game of Phones

Our students love their phones!  This game let’s them make their phone their best asset!

Table Fountain

Some soothing water sounds might make your student’s room more pleasant — and fun.

LED Photo Clip String Lights

Chances are your student loves to show off pictures of friends and family. These string lights are a fun way to do just that. (Check to see whether string lights are allowed in your student’s dorm.)

Ticket Stub Diary

All of those concerts, all of those games, all of those shows.  Your student can keep those ticket stubs — and the memories — all in one place.

100 Movies Bucket List Scratch Poster

Movie buff? This will help your student keep track of movies seen.  (Also 100 books, 100 albums, 100 places)

Portable Pocket Audio Mixer

Give your student more control — and more fun — with their music.

Bubble Wrap Calendar

Full year calendar — with a bubble to pop for each day.  How much fun is that?

Portable USB Power Charger

Allows your student to power up away from home!

Personal Alarm Keychain

This may give both you and your student a little extra peace of mind.

Fidget Cube

Help your student focus and relieve anxiety anywhere.  The newest tool/toy.

Where Will You Be Five Years from Today?

The next five years can be the most exciting and satisfying years of your life—or just another five years. Let this extraordinary book be your guide and inspiration.

Tile Mate — Key Finder, Phone Finder, Anything Finder

Our students lose things. With this technology, your student can use their phone to find their things — or use this to find their phone!

Bicycle Repair Kit

If your student uses a bike, this can be invaluable.

Monitor Stand with 6-port USB Hub

Whether your student uses this as a monitor stand or just as a shelf to hold stuff, it provides 6 charging outlets.  It may even help your student keep that dorm desk tidy!

Personalized Latitude-Longitude Bracelet

Your student may be far away from home, but help her remember where her roots are! Personalize this bracelet with the latitude and longitude of your home.

USB Bed Lift Set

It’s not a new idea to lift the bed in college dorm rooms to increase usable storage space underneath.  But this set includes outlets for charging devices in one of the lifts.


This device can help your student with class notes and personal memos. Your student can take notes just as they would on paper or in a notebook, and save thousands of notes to the device.  Later, notes can be shared to Evernote, email or social media.

Amazon Echo Dot

With this fun device, your student can listen to music, check the weather, set an alarm or timer ask questions, turn devices on or off, or even order food.

Personal Humidifier

Dorm rooms can get dry in the winter months. Consider a personal sized humidifier to help keep the air more comfortable.

Tiny Stapler

This idea for a stocking-stuffer may seem silly, but it could be the one things that makes your student a favorite with professors.  Students still hand in hard-copy assignments — not everything is digital.  And most professors prefer stapled pages.  But if your student prints papers in the library or computer lab on the way to class — no staples.  A small stapler that can live in a backpack or purse could be a life-saver!

Kan Jam Illuminate Glow Game

A fun game that involves attempting to get glowing Frisbees into cans while your opponent attempts to deflect them.  Fun for all ages and a hit on college campuses.

Personal Time Capsule

Your student and college friends can have fun putting together a time capsule of their college years. Wherever they choose to bury or hide it, they can return to enjoy their memories 5, 10, or 25 years from now.

Freedom Journal — Goal Planner and Time Management Journal

Two of the most important characteristics of successful students are having goals and managing their time.  This journal will help your student do both.  Unlike traditional planners that just provide a calendar, this journal helps your student plan goals and keep track of progress.

Scratch Off World Travel Tracker Map

With this map, students can scratch off each place that they visit to uncover that country or state.  Map becomes increasingly colorful as they travel.  This is an especially great gift for a student who plans to study abroad or go into a career that involves travel.


Flying a drone can be a fun way to view the world from a new perspective.

Keurig K130 Brewing System

Whether it’s hot coffee, cocoa, tea, cider or other options, this allows your student to make that quick individual beverage early in the morning or late at night during those long study sessions when a trip to the campus snack bar or local coffee shop isn’t an option.

Ultrasonic Essential Oil Diffuser Aromatherapy

When you (and a roommate) spend a lot of time in a small dorm room, it can begin to feel (and smell) a little close.  This diffuser may help clear the air.  Aromatherapy can also be relaxing and may be able to help your student feel less stressed.

Warm and cozy fleece throw

For those nights of studying, movie watching or reading — or for those college student afternoon naps, there’s nothing like a warm, soft ”blanky.”

Bunk Buddy Bedside Shelf

Space is at a premium in dorm rooms.  Just a little place next to your bed for that ever-present phone or other essentials may seem like a luxury – especially if you’re in the top bunk or a lofted bed.

Amazon Prime

Does your student shop online?  Do they watch movies and listen to music?  An Amazon Prime membership provides your student with free shipping as well as access to movies, tv shows, music and other benefits.  Consider the gift of a membership.

Magic Bullet Blender

Does your student like smoothies?  Are you wishing your student had a way to get more fruits and vegetables?  This blender allows your student to make their smoothies and then take them to-go.

Bluetooth Proximity Alarm/Finder

This device activates an alarm when your student leaves keys or phone behind or someone takes them away.  Help your student make sure their phone never disappears.

Electric Stainless Steel Kettle

For that cup of tea or cocoa, instant soup, or classic college meal of ramen.

Roadside Assistance Kit

If your student has a car, you’ll feel more secure if they’re ready for emergencies.

Clocky Alarm Clock on Wheels

Silly? Yes.  But this might be just the thing for your college student who has a tendency to sleep through that early morning class.  Built on wheels, this clock emits a beeping sound when it first goes off.  Then — after a snooze cycle, it rolls off the nightstand and starts scooting out of reach.  To turn it off, your student has to get out of bed and chase it down.  Fun!

Sunlight Desk Lamp

This lamp mirrors natural light — better for reading and better for health.  This natural sunlight lamp may help improve well-being during those long, dark months of winter.

External Hard Drive

Encourage your student to be prepared to save those important college papers in more than one place.  They can easily drag and drop files onto this hard drive and have everything backed up.

Wireless Charging System

An easy way for your student to make sure their devices are always ready-to-go.

Laptop Cable Lock

Help your student make sure their laptop stays safe.

Fruit Infused Water Bottle

Flavored water tastes even better than plain.  Your student will have fun inventing interesting fruit combinations.

White Noise Machine

Dorms can be wonderful, social places — and that means that sometimes they can be noisy as well.  A little white noise may be just the thing for shutting out the chatter in the hallway when it’s time to sleep or study.

Flannel Sheets (for colder climates) 

You may have purchased new sheets for your student when they left for college, but why not give them another set, especially for winter.  Your student may enjoy having something new and fun for their dorm room.

Sheet Set

If your student isn’t at school where the weather gets cold, they may not need flannel sheets.  But why not find something fun anyway?  Don’t forget to check for extra-long sheets for dorm beds.

Gift card to local restaurant or specialty store

This may take a little investigation, but find a local restaurant (or two) close to the college and get a gift card.  Your student will enjoy the adventure of a night out without worrying about the bill.

Air miles

Is there somewhere that your student has wanted to visit?  Do you have extra air miles?  Donate them and let your student fly off.

Fitness band

Whether or not your student makes a New Year’s resolution to get fit, they may have fun with a fitness band.  They can wear it and count steps and calories.  It will even remind them to get moving and step up the plan each day.

Wristband USB Memory Drive

Downloading computer files or pictures to a USB memory drive is a great way to transport them — as long as you don’t misplace the drive.  This memory drive is wearable as a wristband.  It’s a great way to carry that file or PowerPoint presentation to class and not worry about losing it.

Canvas Dorm Shower Caddy

It’s always nice to have a new way to carry all of your supplies to the shower.  Even if your student bought something to begin the year, a new one might be welcome now.

Bedside caddy for laptop, phone, etc.

Students often use their laptop or phone in bed.  But then what to do with it when it’s time to sleep?  This caddy attaches to the side of the bed and is the perfect place to stow electronics.

Amazon Gift Card

Just about anything is available on Amazon.  If you’re really not sure what your student would like, consider an Amazon gift card.  Perfect for anything.

Digital piggy bank

For many college students, every penny counts.  This little bank is a fun way to keep track of that loose change.  Even college students might enjoy a new piggy bank (even if it’s not exactly a pig).

Mini crockpot

Your student may have a meal plan, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t like a bit of home cooked food occasionally.  This small crockpot is just the size for some chili or soup for one or two people.

20Q Artificial Intelligence Game

This one’s been around for a while and it’s still amazing.  If your student had one when they were younger, they’ll have fun rediscovering what it can do.  If they never had one, it’s time.

 3-D Printing Pen

Draw 3-D objects in the air quickly and easily. Whether freestyle 3D sketching, or tracing shapes from templates to make larger architectural structures, anything is possible.

Tetris lamp

Based on the familiar computer game, this lamp will be a fun addition to any dorm room – especially if you happen to have a Tetris fan.

First Aid Kit

You never know when your student might have a small emergency.  Make sure that they are prepared with their own first aid kit.

Touchscreen gloves

These gloves allow your student to text or use electronic touchscreen devices while still keeping hands warm.

Bluetooth speakers for iphone, ipad, or ipod

Your student will be able to enjoy streaming audio from phone, computer or other Bluetooth devices.

Lightweight laptop backpack

If your student carries a laptop, they may appreciate a sleek, lightweight backpack.  Help them lend a more professional look while still carrying the laptop and all of the necessary accessories.

Noise cancelling headphones

Not only will your student be better able to hear their music without bothering others, but they’ll be able to use these to cancel out unwanted sounds.  Great for studying or sleeping in a noisy residence hall.

Wireless charging station

Allows your student to keep their devices charged without a mess of wires.

Solar charger

Allows your student to use the power of the sun to keep their devices charged wherever they are.

Computer Lap desk

As practical as their desks may be, that is often not where students do their work.  If your student works from a chair, sofa or bed, they’ll appreciate this computer lap desk to make their work go more smoothly.

Portable Scanner

Lightweight portable scanner makes saving and sending papers, forms and documents easy for your student.

Storage compartment water bottle

Water bottles are everywhere.  This one has a built in storage compartment for your student’s key, ID, or a bit of cash.

Dorm Safe

This powerful yet affordable security system helps keep valuables safe–perfect for college students living in dorm rooms. Its compact size maximizes tight living and storage space, plus offers students peace of mind–no need to worry about who’s in the room or if the roommate locked the door.

Digital Picture Frame

Your college student will enjoy both pictures from home and pics of new friends and adventures at college.  Your student will enjoy being able to watch their favorite friends and family rotate through as they spend time in their room.

Coffeemaker with Travel Mug

This will save your student the time and expense of stopping for coffee on the way to class or work.  Just the right size for one cup of coffee — brewed directly into a travel mug to be ready to go!

Diploma Frame

If your student is getting close to graduation — either high school or college — give them a head start on the anticipation by giving them the frame to hang their diploma. Or if you missed the chance last spring, find that diploma and give it to your student already framed.

High Quality Folder

If your student is getting close to graduation, help them prepare for those job interviews with a nice looking leather folder in which to carry their resume, contact information, and a pad to take notes.  Help your student get a head start on looking polished and professional.

Artificial Tropical Fish Aquarium Lamp

This one probably wins the prize for the silliest suggestion yet, but your student may have fun with it.  Most dorms don’t allow pets, but your pet-starved student can safely return to school with their own aquarium and friendly fish.

Tabletop Fast Puck Sling Game

A new and exciting puck slinging free-for-all tabletop game for the whole family! Use the elastic band to shoot all the balls though the small gate, to your opponent’s half.

Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Camera

Sure, we all take photos with our phones. But remember how much fun it was to be able to print out the photo right away? This next generation deserves this much fun!

Room Air Purifier

What dorm room couldn’t stand a little help? Deals with airborne particles such as smoke, dust, pollen, bacteria, virus.

Phonesoap Smartphone Sanitizer and Phone Charger

Our phones gather all the bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm and dark places like purses and pockets, leaving the bacteria to breed and grow. This completely sanitizes your student’s entire phone, killing 99.99% of all bacteria and germs.

Underbed Storage Bags

There’s never enough storage in a dorm room. These bags help your student make use of often neglected space.

Reusable Dry Erase Sticky Notes

These stick like a magnet to shiny surfaces – post it to glass, fridges, laptops, whiteboards, mirrors, cabinets. Use no-residue backing. Post, re-stick and erase up to 2,000 times each. Never buy an expensive and wasteful sticky-note again!

Travel Size Cable and Electronics Organizer Bag

Students take their electronics with them almost everywhere they go. This compact bag helps them keep all of their necessary accessories neatly in one place.

iPad and Phone Stand Holder

We’re all busy propping up our phones and tablets for those many Zoom classes and meetings. This desktop stand holds the device so you have hands free for notetaking, etc.

StankStix Deodorizer for Shoes and Athletic Equipment

Smelly shoes and athletic equipment — especially in a small dorm room can take over. This can help. Perfect for new or used gear and hard to clean shoes, skates, boots and cleats; Great for lacrosse, hockey, boxing, football, soccer gear and more.

Life Hacks 2022 Day-to-Day Calendar

Life hacks are tips, tricks, and shortcuts that solve common problems, increase efficiency, and improve ordinary tasks at home, work, school, and on the go. This calendar includes new and favorite hacks on subjects such as food and drink, technology, wellness, interviewing, and saving money, time, and hassle. As an added bonus, the back of each page includes Daily Extra content such as puzzles, jokes, lists, quotes, tips, and trivia.

Electric Toothbrush

Having something like this might almost make brushing your teeth fun!

Healthy snacks — delivered monthly

College food is OK, but there’s nothing like having some healthy snacks available while you’re studying. Treat your student to a monthly arrival of some new and tasty snacks.

Audible Subscription

Would your student rather listen to stories than read the book? Perhaps while running, walking or commuting? Give a subscription to Audible and your student will get 2 free downloads a month.

Water Bottle with Built-in Speaker

What’s better than a brand new water bottle to carry everywhere? A water bottle that doubles as a blue-tooth speaker.

Sports Action Camera

Your student can capture all of the action as they participate in sporting events.

Wire Wall Grid Multifunctional Display Panel

Better than a bulletin board for displaying photos and other decorative items.

Note: We think these are great gift ideas for your student no matter where you purchase them.  If you use our links, College Parent Central receives a small percentage of your purchase price. This does not change the cost to you.  We think it’s only fair to let you know that.


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