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College kids are surprisingly fun — and easy — to shop for. Living away from home in their dorm or apartment, they tend to be thankful for the little things, yet extra appreciative of the bigger things.
In our search for the 20 best gifts for college students, we looked for products that tick all the boxes. They range from trendy to practical; creative to cozy; stylish to functional.
- Best clothing and accessory gifts for college students
- Best dorm and apartment gifts for college students
- Best beauty and self care gifts for college students
When we release our 2020 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But prices change frequently, so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.
Bestselling gifts for college students
You know how no-show socks always slip down and get rumpled in your shoe? These don’t! The makers call it an “over-engineered, no-slip, stay-up” design. We call it genius.
You can get anything from this trendy beauty brand and it will be the perfect stocking stuffer. That said, the perfume is lovely. One review on the site says it all: “I just started college this year as a freshman and I have gotten at least 15 compliments from men and women saying they love the scent and would wear it.”
These Pudus plush slipper socks are the coziest things that will ever grace their feet. They have fluffy sherpa lining and non-slip bottoms— plus, they come in so many designs you won’t know which to pick. The company also has hats, mittens and boot socks worth checking out.
There are so many great things about this little fridge. It’s stylish, lightweight and compact, making it the perfect gift for a dorm room or apartment kitchen countertop. And since it’s thermo-electric and can keep things both cool and warm, it has myriad uses: for skin care or beauty products, for medications, for beverages or food.
It’s a water bottle. No, it’s a speaker. No … it’s BOTH. This ingenious product lets them hydrate as they listen to music on their phone (it syncs wirelessly). Put it in the side pocket of a backpack and you've got an instant party.
Best clothing and accessory gifts for college students
This Croakies belt, which is made from recycled water bottles, is unisex, has an adjustable length and features a convenient buckle that also functions as a bottle opener. You never know when there will be a bottle (of Coke or Sprite, of course) that needs opening.
This sleek leather wallet has all the important RFID-blocking technology that keeps your college kid safe from scammers. Click a button and their six most-used cards will fan out, making it easy to retrieve the one they need. Add a Tracker Card and you can use the Chipolo app to find your wallet with your phone.
There’s no such thing as having too many backpacks because different needs call for different sizes. This is on the smaller side (weekend brunch, anyone?) but has plenty of pockets and sturdy zippers. We love it in mustard, a cheery, bright, but not too yellow hue. (Feel good perk: For every product sold, United by Blue removes a pound of trash from oceans and waterways.)
Olukai’s patented Drop-In Heel makes these both a shoe and a slide. The sheepskin lining is so cozy that even though these are supposed to be indoor slippers, your college girl will want to wear them to class. And out. And everywhere.
Same as above. But for your college guy.
These Nepalese, handcrafted fingerless mittens well enable your college kid to keep on texting while walking through campus on a blustery day.
You know how white Adidas sneakers are the uniform shoe for all college girls? Add a little pizazz (in their favorite school colors) with these fringed leather accessories that attach to any lace-up shoe. (My Ohio State Buckeye just may find some glittery red ones in her stocking…shhhhh.)
Best dorm and apartment gifts for college students
These hand-poured candles smell amazing but also have the cutest labels that reflect today’s cultural trends. Case in point: Comfort Zone/ Smells Like the Joy of Missing Out, which is a fragrance featuring notes of coffee and cedarwood. (Who doesn’t relate to JOMO?)
2. Utensil Kit
No more evil plastic straws or takeout forks! This kit comes with two stainless steel straws, a cleaner, chopsticks and a spork. It's a little step they can take to help save the environment.
We love this inflatable "gold throne" as extra seating in a dorm room or apartment. It blows up in minutes with a hair dryer (on a cool setting) and, when deflated, it's easy to store.
Packing cubes will change the way your college kid travels. These are high-quality polyester with sturdy zippers and mesh tops so they can see what they've stuffed in it. They come in a set of three. (Side note: If you have a college kid who is going to study abroad and needs a great travel backpack, this one is amazing.)
As plush duvets or comforters go, these do not disappoint in the fluffiness factor. They come in the dorm-appropriate twin XL and we love the name: the "Coma Inducer."
Best beauty and self care gifts for college students
If the famed La Mer Moisturizing Soft Cream is the queen of all creams, this 6-ounce tub of goodness is the princess. Its luxurious feel — and affordable price — make it a very solid pick.
Organic lip balm for dudes. Say what? We love the creamy formula, the flat tin that's easy to transport, and that it's made by two brothers in Venice, California, who still hand-pour every tin themselves.
3. Lacoste Robe
This one-size, unisex robe comes in soft terry cotton. We call it the Goldilocks robe: Not too bulky, not too thin. Juuust right.
Finding the perfect present can be a challenge, but Shop TODAY's up to the task. Try our interactive gift finder to sort gifts by price, person and interest. And no matter who you're looking for, we've got gift guides for everyone on your list, including:
- These are the hottest toys all kids will be asking for this year
- The best gifts for your fashionista friends
- Best gifts for your sister
This gift guide was originally published on Dec. 13, 2018.