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My college kid recently arrived home for the holidays with two suitcases stuffed with her belongings. My first thought: How is she going to have room in her luggage to take back the gifts she’ll get for Christmas?
This packing quandary — coupled with the knowledge that the room she shares with three friends doesn’t have much space — changed my shopping this holiday season. In the end, there will be more gifts for her in her stocking than under the tree. And that’s OK because good things come in small packages, right?
These gifts, especially curated for the college set, are fun, functional and small enough to easily transport come January when it's time for your kid to head back to campus.
When we release our 2018 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But, prices change frequently (yay, deals!), so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.
Gifts for college students
- 1. Clarins 4-Color All-in-One Lining Pen, $32, Nordstrom
TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.
This combination eye and lip liner has 4 colors — black, emerald, plum and pink — in one, ingenious pen. Made of a soothing blend of sunflower, jojoba and black acacia wax extracts, it makes creating different looks a matter of one simple click.
- 2. Aiker Bluetooth Beanie, $20, Amazon
Talk about double duty. This cute, soft, cozy beanie will keep them warm and entertained on those long winter walks across campus.
- 3. You Got This Pencil Set, $11, Taylor Elliott Designs
This festive colorful set of six pencils printed with the saying "You Got This" are sure to help encourage your student when taking that next Stats exam. We also love the "Pep Talk Pencils" with sayings such as "Make Today Great," "Like A Boss," and "Choose Happiness."
- 4. "Sesame Street" Oscar The Grouch Socks, $14, Bombas
These will become their favorite pair of socks. Bombas socks are the best because they're soft, they stay up and they don't have a seam in the toe. And the "Sesame Street" Limited Edition collection is too cute (we had a hard time choosing between Oscar, Ernie, Bert and The Count). Also, for every pair of socks purchased, a pair is donated by Bombas to homeless communities around the country.
- 5. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, $6, Ulta
Dirty hair? Don't care. This dry shampoo is a godsend for days when they want to extend that good 'do just a few days longer.
- 6. Poo-pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray, $10, Ulta
Shared living quarters require spray etiquette. Just a spritz of Poo-pourri works by creating a barrier on the water's surface trapping odor before it begins! Tell your college kid to stash this in the bathroom for all to share.
- 7. Mother’s Vault Bamboo Toothbrushes, $7, Amazon
These eco-friendly toothbrushes have smooth bamboo handles and medium-soft BPA-free nylon bristles. We love that they say "Mother's Vault" on the handle — a subliminal reminder from mom to brush those teeth!
- 8. CB Station Makeup Bag, $15, Bed Bath & Beyond
A durable, canvas bag that's perfect for makeup, jewelry or even those unruly phone cords and headphones. There are many colors to pick from and we love that you can get it personalized.
- 9. Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder, $28, Amazon
Help them stay hydrated with this nifty little gadget. It attaches to any size water bottle and when it blinks, you take a drink. (Smart detection sensors remind you to hydrate at least once per hour.)
- 10. Lamp Bulb Flash Drive, $11, Amazon
This cute 32 GB flash drive actually lights up when you plug it in! We think it might inspire some must-needed "Eureka" moments while studying. It also comes with a keychain so it can attach to any backpack.
- 11. Shakespearean Insult Bandages, $7, Amazon
Got an English or Drama major? Nothing like some Bard humor to make them giggle as they are tending to their cuts, scrapes and scratches.
- 12. Jackery Portable Power Station, $30, Amazon
Because kids today NEED juice. For their phones, that is. This compact phone charger is amazingly light and charges iPhones twice as fast as the iPhone original charger.
- 13. Pon Travel Pillow, $22, Amazon
This U-shaped memory foam neck pillow helps relieve shoulder and neck pain. Good for long plane or car rides but also for lounging in the dorm. It fits in a compact bag so it's easy to transport.
- 14. Katana Safety Arc, $80, Amazon
This may be your priciest stocking stuffer, but oh what peace of mind it will bring a parent. This gadget attaches to your child's phone and provides three different kinds of security alerts for emergency situations. One is a piercing siren, another is a more discreet silent alert button, and a third notifies a circle of seven contacts what your location is.
- 15. Wandf Foldable Travel Duffel Bag, $17, Amazon
We love that this water-resistant nylon bag folds and fits into an envelope-sized carrying bag. So when they come home for the holidays, they could throw it in their luggage. Then when they leave, this would help them carry all those great stocking stuffers back to college!