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20 Awesome Gifts Ideas for New & Returning College Students

20 Awesome Gifts Ideas for New & Returning College Students

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Gifting incoming college students for the upcoming semester can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. While they may have the basics covered and probably don’t want to receive notepads and pencils, it can be difficult to understand exactly what a college student might need but hadn’t thought of, hadn’t gotten yet, or wouldn’t get for themselves.

A lot of college life is focused on the dorm room, but this isn’t always where the student’s budget can be spent. The great thing about gifting them items for their room is that you know they will get used and will mean a lot to the student in their daily life.

We’ve put together a comprehensive gift guide of dorm room essentials and things that you can give to a student that they’ll love, including things for working, de-stressing items, really just anything that they’d really get a lot of use out of.

We’ve curated this list to take the guess work out of gifting things to your college student friends and family, there’s no question that they’ll love anything on it! Sometimes college students will realize things they need along the way of their experience, but college isn’t exactly a time where they have access to a lot of funds to buy things that they realize will ultimately make their lives so much easier, and you will come to the rescue by showing up with one of the eight gift ideas below.

Do you know a college student that you plan to buy a gift for this holiday season? Here are 10 great gift ideas for any college student, with a range of options for your budget or your student’s preferences:

1. Mattress Topper

Sleepyhead Copper Mattress Topper Twin XL - 3" Copper-Infused Memory Foam Topper with Washable Cover - College Essentials (Twin XL, 3-Inch Clean Copper)

The SleepyHead mattress topper truly is the best mattress topper for college. Not only is the company geared toward students and understanding their unique needs, but it also allows students a special warrantee that is “good until graduation.”

This mattress topper is supposed to be incredibly comfortable, and not to mention, a really great company. Started by a student, for students, it couldn’t be any more perfect for the student in your life.

2. Mini Fridge

NewAir Mini Fridge Beverage Refrigerator and Cooler, Free Standing Glass Door Refrigerator Holds Up To 60 Cans, Cools to 37 Degrees Perfect Beverage Organizer For Beer, Wine, Soda, and Pop

College dorm rooms can sometimes feel sterile and not very much like home. Something that can make a college student feel more at home is being able to keep their favorite drinks and snacks right inside their room instead of going down the hall or to cafeteria.

This mini fridge from Newair is so compact and functional, they might actually forget that they don’t have a full-size fridge.

3. Sound Machine

One thing we can all understand about dorm rooms: they are full of other people’s sound. This is where a sound machine can help the student feel so much more at home and provide them with the luxury of complete serenity…even when the person above them or beside them is not.

This sound machine from LectroFan Evo is equipped with different sounds and white noise, giving an array of sound options to choose from. These sounds are all non-looping, which can be better for your sleep pattern if you listen to the sounds overnight. A must-have for any large and loud dorm building.

Yogasleep Whish White Noise Sound Machine 16 Natural Nature & Soothing Sounds with Volume Control Travel, Office Privacy, Sleep Therapy, Concentration For Adults & Baby

4. Phone Charger

Simple but effective: a phone charger.

These chargers from Belkin are not only powerful but also very sleek and blend in with any room aesthetic. You truly cannot go wrong with a Belkin charger that looks organized and effortless. Perfect also for long nights studying when you want to be able to see your phone but not necessarily have to pick it up and get entrenched in it to simply check a notification.

Belkin F8J237ttWHT iPhone Charging Dock + Apple Watch Charging Stand (PowerHouse iPhone Charging Station) iPhone Dock, Apple Watch Dock, Apple Charging Station (White)

5. Noise Cancelling Headphones

Once again, in terms of quiet and privacy, dorm rooms are not known for having a whole lot of that. Noise cancelling headphones make the perfect gift for a college student because they will always be using them while studying, reading, or just simply wanting a moment of silence in the crazy environment that is their dorm.

New Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones - Triple Black

6. Weighted Blanket

What’s something better than gifting a hug? Gifting a hug they can have at any time, even when you aren’t around. Weighted blankets are such great gifts because they can be so soothing to the recipient and be a comfort until you can hug them yourself! These blankets are shown to improve sleep, reduce anxiety, and calm the nervous system. Perfect for a college student. We love this one because it’s high quality, hypoallergenic and right now, it’s on sale! 

Topblan Sherpa Fleece Weighted Blanket 15lbs, Uniformed Color with Fuzzy Fleece and Shaggy Sherpa to Help with Better Sleep, 48x72 inches, Grey

7. HP Laptop

HP 15 Laptop, 11th Generation Intel Core i3-1115G4, Intel UHD Graphics,8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 15.6-inch Full HD Display, Windows 10 Home, 802.11ac, Bluetooth, HDMI, Silver W/ Silmarils Accessories

Of course, every college student needs a laptop! In this day and age, school is impossible without a laptop, and these HP laptops are some of the best models on the market. With their technological innovations, HP has been at the forefront of the best computers to bring to school in fall.

8. Gift Cards!

Without fail, gift cards always prove to be a staple of the college student. Visa, chain restaurants, on-campus restaurants, you name it. Food is one of the largest on-campus expenses for kids and having gift cards can making their dining experience a little bit less stressful. Perfect for just starting out, finals week, there is nothing quite like having a gift card ready to go for any occasion. Gift Card in a Mini Envelope (Navy and Gold)

9. Kindle E-Reader

Reading tablets are the hottest gadget this holiday season, and there are a range of options to fit any budget. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a budget-friendly model with a lot of options for students to read text books and leisure books. 

Kindle - Now with a Built-in Front Light - Black - Ad-Supported

10. Laptop Case

Many college students carry a laptop for note taking and portability for study options. Help them protect this precious cargo with a cool case. Find a case at Ebags and get free shipping (as well as free return shipping if your recipient doesn’t like your gift).

Lenovo Laptop Shoulder Bag T210, 15.6-Inch Laptop or Tablet, Sleek, Durable and Water-Repellent Fabric, Lightweight Toploader, Business Casual or School, GX40Q17229, Black

11. Personalized Phone Case

Most students carry a smart phone now, allowing them to stay in touch with family and friends, keep track of classes, check e-mail and much more. Help your student personalize a smart phone with a fun case. Zazzle has options for iPhones and Android phones, and you can upload your own photos or personalize the color or style.

Custom Multiple Pictures Phone Case for iPhone 13 11 12 Pro Max X XR Xs Max, Personalized Phone Cases,Customized Photos Clear TPU Cover for Birthday Xmas Valentines Friends Her and Him Girls Boys

12. Portable Mugs

Caffeine fuels late-night study sessions – as well as long lectures. Students can use a portable mug for their iced and hot coffee and other drinks. These mugs from Cup Couture are also more stylish than the typical cardboard-sleeved cup. Shop portable mugs now!

Mora Double Wall Ceramic Coffee Travel Mug with Lid, 14 oz, Portable, Microwave, Dishwasher Safe, Insulated Reusable Tall Cup, Splash Resistant Lid - To Go Tumbler for Car Cup Holder, Cotton White

13. Stylish Lunch Bags

Dorm food gets old, and students don’t have the budget to eat out every day. Help them save money and avoid brown bagging it with a stylish lunch tote instead. eBags offers a variety of styles and designs, and the site is currently having a 30% off sale for most items.

Insulated Lunch Bag for Women/Men - Reusable Lunch Box for Office Work School Picnic Beach - Leakproof Cooler Tote Bag Freezable Lunch Bag with Adjustable Shoulder Strap for Kids/Adult - Black

14. Speaker Dock

Let your student turn a smart phone into a sound system with a speaker dock to play downloaded music. A variety of styles are available on Amazon for all types of smart phones and mp3 players. Shop speaker docks now!

JBL FLIP 5, Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker, Black (New Model)

15. Bicycle


Not many students can afford a car in college, and it can get tiresome always asking for a ride or cramming onto a packed bus. A bike can help students have freedom of movement and get in some more exercise. Amazon offers up to a 60% discount on retail prices for a variety of bikes. Shop bicycles now!

Redfire Hybrid Bike, 21 Speed Shifters,700C Wheels 19/21 Inch Aluminum Frame,City Commuter Bicycle for Adult Men&Women

16. Houseplants

Add some greenery and fresh air to their dorm or room with some beautiful greenery! Choose simple and easy to care for indoor plants like cacti or evergreen houseplants. 

where to buy indoor plants online


17. Restaurant Gift Cards

A gift card to a favorite restaurant is an excellent gift for any person in your life, but especially for a college student who doesn’t get to eat out that often because of budget constraints. Pick a favorite restaurant, or browse some options at for discounts at local eateries.

18. Amazon Prime Membership

An Amazon Prime membership offers more than just free two-day shipping on orders, it also includes Prime Video streaming, Prime Music, discounts on newly released video games, and much more. 

19. Instant Pot

This may seem like an odd choice but hear me out. Whether your graduate is headed to college or to their first apartment, one of the things they’ll have to do is eat.

Instead of relying on the dining hall or eating out, buy them one device which takes the place of a bunch of kitchen appliances: the Instant Pot! It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker – it can even make yogurt. It’s easy to use and doesn’t take much space so it’s perfect for a college dorm or studio apartment. The perfect gift is the combo of an instant pot + cookbook! There are tons of great cookbooks tailored specifically to college students.

Instant Pot College Cookbook: Tasty & Affordable Instant Pot Recipes for Beginners College Students. Fast and Healthy Meals Made Right on Campus


20. Wireless Earbuds

These are popular gifts because almost everyone likes to listen to music, but the buds that are included with smartphones aren’t always the best choice.  Take a look at some of the best noise-cancelling earbuds before you decide which ones to buy.

Beben True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds, 31H Cyclic Playtime Headphones with Type C Charging Case and mic, IPX6 Waterproof Compatible for iPhone Android, in-Ear Stereo Earphones Headset for Sport White

Do you have any other great gift ideas for college students? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Whether graduating from high school or college, these are both milestones in a young person’s life which are acknowledged by those who care for them. Finding the right gift can be overwhelming but what really matters is giving them the support they need to follow their dreams.

Gift Ideas For College Students

So, as you can see, there are plenty of gifts for college students that will become essentials in their lives and make the college experience a little bit more enjoyable. It’s such an exciting time in anyone’s life but there are certain items that can improve their experience, and this list is everything they may want or need but won’t ask for. Surprise the college student in your life today!

gift ideas for college students pin

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