Your college student almost definitely doesn’t want these gifts this year: A Dust Buster. Slippers. New notebooks.
I mean, I wanted all those items during my college years and was thrilled to receive them, but those gifts aren’t exactly exciting. I wasn’t much of a party animal in college, if you couldn’t guess.
Most college students love surprises. Especially useful surprises.
So don’t let them down this year. Whether it’s your little sister, a cousin or your own kids in college, get ready to rumble this gift-giving season with presents that will truly surprise them.
Here are 15 gifts your college student actually wants — and they’re all $25 or less.
1. French Press — $16.35
A caffeine habit gets expensive, doesn’t it?
Make it easier for your favorite student to get their fix without going broke: Get them a small French press they can tuck away in their dorm room.
Got a few extra bucks to spare? Get them an electric kettle to heat the water for just $13.99. Mornings just got WAY easier.
2. “Namast’ay in Bed” Pillow Case — $20
When the caffeine finally wears off, students can drift off to sleep on this pillow case encouraging major chill vibes.
Young yogis will love the joke, and everyone else will appreciate your appreciation of their napping habit.
3. Stainless Water Bottle — $17.54
More and more campuses are installing water refill stations to make it easier for students to ditch bottled water — and to reduce the number of embarrassing water-fountain refill spills.
Give a Klean Kanteen 27-ounce bottle in their favorite color to help your student stay hydrated.
4. Bedside Storage Caddy — $7.15
Ever fallen asleep studying — only to find yourself snuggled up with your laptop, notebooks and phone in the morning?
It’s not exactly a good night’s sleep.
Make it easier to tuck away essentials before bed with a caddy that helps save precious space on desks and nightstands.
5. Stitchagram Coin Purse — $25
Put a bird on it! Or their dog, or their bestie, or maybe a few selfies of you.
Upload photos from Instagram or your computer to make a photo collage for a handmade coin purse.
If your student is always stashing away quarters for laundry or trying to find their earbuds, a coin purse is the perfect size to help them get a little more organized.
6. Adult Coloring Book — $9.23
Coloring is all the rage for grown folks.
Pick up a “stress-relieving” book of patterns for your student to turn to during midterms, finals or those nights when their roommate simply refuses to turn off their annoying ringtone.
Add a dozen colored pencils for about $5 and they’ve got a super-chill activity to last the whole semester.
7. Earbuds — $5.99
I’ve been out of college way too long to admit this, but I lose my earbuds. All. The. Time.
I’m guessing the average college student could use a spare pair to keep handy, as well.
If you want to give a gift that hands-down, 100% will get used and used often, earbuds are just the ticket.
8. Netflix Gift Card — $25
Monthly subscription costs add up fast, so help your student pay for the one they just can’t live without: Netflix.
Monthly plans start at $8.99 per month, but digitally delivered gift cards via Amazon start at $25. It’ll be the gift that keeps on giving! For three months!
9. Poppin Folio — $14
Help your fave student deliver their resume or term paper in style with a sleek document folio from Poppin.
There are plenty of color options, including luxe metallics for when they want to make an entrance.
Sadly, the Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper is not making the best impression. No, not even the one with the unicorns. Put it away.
10. Toaster Grilled Cheese Bags — $9.99
Ever wanted to whip up a quick grilled cheese without dealing with dishes?
Pop it all in the toaster — just don’t forget to put that delicious sandwich in a grilled-cheese bag first. These little Teflon-coated guys help heat up a sandwich that’s crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside, and tidy. And you can reuse them!
11. To-Do List — $6.95
Sometimes the best way to get organized is with an old-fashioned paper list.
Grab this one with sections for tasks, errands and correspondence (read: emails that need to be replied to yesterday) to help a student you love stay on track.
Kick in the Passive-Aggressive Note pad if they’ve got a roommate who never restocks anything in the fridge.
12. Wireless Wipes — $8.18
College is pretty gross. You know that cell phone goes to the bathroom. Help keep it a little cleaner with Wireless Wipes in a variety of fun scents.
I like rosemary peppermint because it makes my phone smell so fresh and so clean.
13. Mini Donut Maker — $24.95
Ah, snacks. They just bring college students together.
Help make your favorite student the talk of the dorm whenever they fire up the donut maker.
And honestly, it’s always a good time for a donut.
14. Cards Against Humanity — $25
This simple card game of questions and answers livens up any gathering.
Buy your student a set for $25 so they can stop inviting Nicole to parties she doesn’t go to because she’s the only friend who has it.
Really on a budget? Download the game for free and print the cards. But by the time you buy cardstock and printer ink, you may just want to plunk down your credit card for the real thing.
15. Graze — $11.99
Back to what’s important: snacks.
Snack subscription box Graze ships tasty snacks featuring natural ingredients. Once you sign up for an account, you can send a one-time box, packed with eight snacks, to anyone you wish.
Snacks by mail? Sign me up, please.
Your Turn: What gifts will you be giving college students this year? Did we forget any good ones?
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We would have shared them with you anyway, but a true “penny hoarder” would be a fool not to take the company’s money.
Lisa Rowan is a writer, editor and podcaster living in Washington, D.C. She wishes there had been an energy drink subscription box for her grad school night classes.