College students may be some of the hardest giftees to shop for on your holiday list this year. They likely already have their dorm essentials, thanks to student discounts and back-to-school shopping. Plus, it’s hard to know what's cool these days. As a college student, all I ever wished for was cash to help pay for my degree, and gift cards to help pay for food at school. Odds are, the college student on your list is the same, and you might need some help coming up with ideas for a gift they can open and enjoy. We’ve rounded up a list of 23 ideas across interests from fitness and cooking to a variety of tech options and more to hopefully streamline the shopping process for you.
Best gifts for college students
To help you find the best gifts for the college student on your list this year, we revisited our previous expert guidance on speakers, coffee makers, self-care items and more that align with Select-reader interest. Additionally, we consulted our staff writers and editors for gift suggestions. We also included some highly rated items we think Select readers (and their gift recipients) will love.
If your college student giftee doesn’t have a smart TV, this Fire Stick may help them avoid the hassle of looking for an HDMI cord to stream their favorite shows on a big screen. You can plug the device into a TV in your dorm or a common space and stream content across platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock and more (with a subscription) and pull up YouTube videos with ease. You can also use the Fire Stick to watch live TV with a subscription. The device also comes with an Alexa Voice Remote.
This highly rated single-serve coffee maker is less than 5 inches wide, making it a good option for small living spaces like dorm rooms. The water reservoir holds 12 ounces, and when you remove the drip tray, you can fit a travel mug up to 7 inches tall. The K-Mini is compatible with Keurig K-cup Pods and My K-Cup Universal Reusable Coffee filters, and the coffee maker automatically shuts off 90 seconds after your last brew.
If your giftee is a college athlete or loves hitting the gym, they might enjoy a massage gun. The Theragun Mini from Therabody, which uses vibrations to massage your muscles after a workout, is designed to be compact and portable. Therabody says it maintains the brand’s signature sound insulation for a quiet experience despite its compressed size. It offers three speed settings and provides up to 150 minutes of use time on a single charge, according to the brand. It is compatible with all of Therabody’s fourth-generation-shaped head attachments.
Any student that loves hosting board game nights with friends might love a new game to add to the mix. This card game is from the same brand that makes Select-favorite game Exploding Kittens. Two to six players can play by collecting sets of matching cards to earn points. If a player draws an action card that tells them to throw a squishy burrito toy at their opponent and they hit them, then their opponent loses points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
Film majors tight on space might be interested in a mini projector for movie nights with friends, instead of a TV. This projector has multiple ports, including HDMI, USB, Micro SD card, and more to show photos and videos from multiple different types of inputs. The brand says the mini projector is equivalent in size to a 6.5-inch smartphone and weighs less than a pound.
Alo Moves, a virtual fitness platform that offers a wide range of classes, is a great option for the giftee in your life who loves exercise but hates the campus gym. You can access your subscription through the Alo Moves app or through a web browser to take one-off workout classes or classes that are part of a series of workouts. You also have the option to log your workouts after taking them. Zoe Malin, the associate updates editor for Select and a class of 2022 graduate, likes the platform for its affordable price of $20 per month or $200 per year and the wide variety of classes they offer.
Associate reporter Mili Godio loves this Vitruvi diffuser, which uses ultrasonic vibrations to disperse essential oils into a cool mist throughout the room, making your dorm room smell more like lavender than smelly socks. It can be set to run on a four-or eight-hour schedule and has an ambient LED light that you can adjust the brightness of. Since most dorms won’t allow candles for their open flames, this oil diffuser, which covers up to 500 square feet, might be a nice swap.
We're big fans of wireless earbuds, and Jabra makes some of our favorites. The new Jabra Elite 7 Pro offers a wide range of features, like touch controls and the ability to activate your phone’s voice assistant. The Elite 7 Pro also has active noise cancellation features, including a “transparency mode” which allows ambient sound in, and has a water resistance rating of IP57. The brand says it offers up to 30 hours of battery time with the charging case.
An item tracker like Apple Airtag can help college students keep track of their keys, backpack or anything else. It pairs with an iPhone or Macbook. Using the Find My app, users can find the exact location of the Airtag, and whatever else it is attached to. On Amazon, the Apple Airtag has an average rating of 4.7 stars from 89,595 reviews.
Snap-happy students might love an instant print camera. This option from Polaroid has an autofocus shooting mode and five lens filters so you can play with colors and contrast. The camera uses i-Type film, which the brand says takes 10 to 15 minutes to fully develop. Polaroid also has a mobile app that you can pair the camera with to unlock even more filters and photo modes.
While they might have stocked up on notebooks at the beginning of the school year, it’s never too late for them to start using a reusable, cloud-connected notebook like the RocketBook Core. A Rocketbook user has the classic pen and paper experience, but you can scan your notes with the Rocketbook app for storage on your cloud service of choice, and then wipe the page off to use it again. The notebook comes with a compatible Pilot FriXion pen and a microfiber towel.
My dining hall never had smoothies (just overcooked eggs and sugary cereal), so I loved having a mini blender in my dorm. The Magic Bullet Mini Blender comes with a 200-watt motor base, a short cup, a party mug, a resealable lid, a recipe guide and a stainless steel cross blade. It weighs less than two pounds and is less than eleven inches tall and six inches wide, making it a good option for dorm living.
Experts recommended this Bluetooth portable speaker for its compact size and sound quality. The Ultimate Ears Boom 3 can run for up to 15 hours on a single charge, according to the brand, and has an IP67 water-and dustproof rating. The speaker weighs less than two pounds and is less than eight inches tall and three inches wide. It can connect to other Boom speakers for a surround-sound experience, and by pairing it with the Boom app you can set up “one touch” access to your music. A wireless charging dock can also be purchased separately.
Rebecca Rodriguez, Select’s editorial operations associate, said the Foreo Luna 3 cleansing device was one of the best improvements to her skin-care routine. The device uses pulsations to “shake loose” dirt and makeup from your pores, according to the brand, and you can choose between 16 different pulsation intensities. The bristles and coating of the cleansing device are silicone, which experts recommended over nylon when shopping for a facial cleansing brush. Foreo offers three models for combination, sensitive and normal skin types, as well as a model for men, which the brand says helps clean both skin and facial hair to help prevent ingrown hairs.
For the giftee in need of new running sneakers, they may be interested in On’s Cloudmonster sneakers, which are a favorite of Select’s former associate editor, Justin Krajeski. The brand prioritizes sustainability (which you can read more about on its website), so it could be a good option for the eco-conscious. The Cloudmonster sneakers are made with the brand’s CloudTec outer sole, which provides cushioning no matter how your foot lands and helps improve take-off, according to the brand.
The Hugget weighted pillow can provide “therapeutic sensory and stress relief,” according to Bearaby, which makes some of our favorite weighted blankets. The brand says each pillow is made from a plant-based, all-natural rubber foam and is encased in organic cotton. The medium knot pillow is approximately 8-inches tall, but the pillow is also available at a 4-inch small size and an 11-inch large size.
Select editor Malin said this microwave-safe four-piece glassware set allowed her to make eggs, fish, steamed vegetables and more, providing her with easy alternatives to her dining hall. Anyday says the glass containers and silicone lids are ideal for safe microwave cooking, and that the set is completely dishwasher-, freezer- and oven-safe, as well. The set includes two small dishes, a medium deep dish and a medium shallow dish.
Most students spend a lot of time traveling around campus, so it's super important that all their devices be charged for class and downtime. This Anker 523 Power Bank can charge anything from headphones to laptops. It charges devices via USB-C or USB-A and can deliver multiple charges to most smartphones, according to the brand.
This expert-recommended hair curler has 128 tiny holes on the titanium barrel, which limits heat damage, leaving your hair smooth and shiny, says TYMO. The curling iron has five temperature settings and an auto shutoff feature that activates after 60 minutes.
The Hoya Heart is called so because of its green heart-shaped leaves and The Sill classifies this easy-to-care-for plant as one of their “best for beginners.”. The mini-plant will likely measure between two to three inches tall from the soil line and arrive in a grow pot inside the planter of your choice. The Sill says the plant thrives in bright direct light and should be watered every two to three weeks.
My footwear of choice for walking around my dorm building to do laundry, visit friends or take out the trash was the Ugg Classic Slipper II. The slippers are made of Ugg’s signature suede and sheepskin combination and have an outsole that is designed for both indoor and outdoor wearability, according to Ugg. I wore these all the time and loved how warm and comfortable they were.
Most students spend a lot of time looking at computer screens these days, regardless of their course of study, and might benefit from blue light glasses. The lenses on this option from Melatonin Production contain melanin, which provides protection against high-energy visible light, according to the brand. The lenses are yellow and have a scratch-protective coating. You can choose between eight frame styles and two Melatonin Production factor levels — a level that refers to how much blue light the lenses will filter.
Students looking to add fun lighting to their space might appreciate this top-rated Philips Hue Smart Lightstrip. This 6-foot lightstrip is bendable and can be cut into segments to wrap around corners. Users control the light via the Philips Hue app and can set schedules and timers, according to the brand. It has an average rating of 4.5 stars from 6,489 reviews on Amazon.