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The 32 best holiday gifts for college students this year

No matter your college student’s major, here are gift ideas that will improve their college experience by a significant degree.
College students are always on the go.  Show your support and love with gifts like  headphones, luggage, sneakers and more.
College students are always on the go. Show your support and love with gifts like headphones, luggage, sneakers and more. Vivian Le / NBC

Finding a gift for the college student in your life can be tough if they already have everything they need for their dorm or apartment. Plus, it’s hard to know what’s considered “cool” for a young adult these days.

As a college student, all I ever wanted was cash to help pay for my degree and gift cards to help pay for food. 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 ideas across interests like fitness, cooking, tech and more to streamline your shopping process.?

Best gifts for college students

To help you find the best gifts for the college student on your list this year, we rounded up expert-recommended picks and consulted with Select staff for their holiday suggestion. Additionally, we also included some highly rated items we think you (and your gift recipient) will love.

Best fitness gifts for college students

Adidas Ultraboost

From walking around campus to working out at the university gym, these shoes let them do it all in comfort and style. With a breathable and lightweight feel, these shoes remain one of my all-time favorite pairs. They’re available in both 尘别苍’蝉 and wo尘别苍’蝉 sizing and come in 26 colors.

Recess x Leanne Ford Set

If your student wants to partake in the fun of pickleball with their friends, this set comes with two paddles made of strong and durable fiberglass, a thick honeycomb interior, and a sweat-resistant grip made of condensed foam. It also comes with three white pickleballs and two limited edition embroidered canvas cases to keep the paddles safe The set comes in 30 color and pattern variations, and you can also purchase the paddles, balls and accessories separately.

Theragun Mini

If your giftee is a college athlete or loves hitting the gym, they might enjoy a massage gun. The compact and portable Select Wellness Award winner can help them massage their muscles after a workout. It offers three speed settings and provides up to 150 minutes of use time on a single charge, according to the brand.

Stanley The Quencher H2.0

This stainless steel reusable water bottle is great to take on the go and can help keep their drink cold for up to 11 hours and hot for up to seven hours, according to the brand. The tumbler has a three-position lid to prevent spills and a drinking spout for your student to use with or without the reusable straw. It comes in five sizes and 21 colors to match their personal style. If you want to add a personalized touch, you can customize it for an additional $55 or $57 fee.?

Alo Moves

Alo Moves is a virtual fitness platform that offers a wide range of classes. It’s a great option for the college student who loves exercise but hates the campus gym. This Select Wellness award winner offers one-off workout classes and a series of workouts, including barre, HIIT, yoga and pilates.

Best tech gifts for college students

Apple AirPods Max

Chances are, your college student has a pair of quality over ear headphones on their wishlist. These noise-canceling headphones are a Select staff favorite because they seamlessly block out noise, which is perfect if they need to study or focus. It also comes with a spatial audio feature to bring theater-like sound while they watch movies or play online games, according to the brand. They provide up to 20 hours of battery life and come in five colors, including pink, green and space gray.

JBL Flip 6

Whether your student is lounging on the campus lawn or getting ready for a night with friends, playing music through a bluetooth speaker is an excellent way for them to set the tone. This JBL speaker is lightweight — weighing just over one pound — and dust- and water-resistant. They can also adjust audio settings using the companion app, according to the brand. The speaker offers 12 hours of listening time, and they can connect it to multiple Flip 6 speakers to create a stereo system.

Apple Watch Series 9

This Select Giftable Tech Awards winner is one of the best Apple watches yet, according to Select reporter Harry Rabinowitz. Similar to earlier models, it is easy to use, syncs with Apple apps, tracks health and fitness data and has new features like Double Tap, which lets you control the watch without touching the screen. The watch is available in two sizes, nine variations and is compatible with multiple watch bands.

Amazon Fire Stick 4K

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. They can plug the device into a TV in their dorm or common space and stream content across platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Peacock, YouTube and more. You can also use the Fire Stick to watch live TV with a subscription. The device comes with an Alexa Voice Remote, which lets you launch content, control volume and more using your voice.

Best school and practical gifts for college students

Papier Joy Undated Daily Planner

Since the school year is already in full swing, choosing an undated planner is the best way to help them track their to-dos without letting pages go to waste. This Papier daily planner has designated spaces for journaling, goals, weekly overviews, habit tracking and, of course, daily planning. The hardcover planner is available in 10 colors, and you can personalize it with your student’s name and more.

Baggu Puffy Laptop Sleeve

Since most of their academic work is online, it’s important to protect your student’s laptop with a case. This Select staff favorite has padding on the inside to keep your device and any other important documents safe. The machine-washable case is available in two sizes, including 13-14 inches and a 16-inch sleeve, and it comes in multiple patterns and colors.?

Uber Gift Card

Getting around from place to place in a college town can get expensive. Help your college student save on rides while letting them get to and from home safely with this Uber gift card. They can also use this gift card for Uber’s food delivery platform Uber Eats to get their favorite meals from various restaurants delivered right to their door. You can choose from six preset denominations, or you can add however much you would like.

Starbucks Gift Card

With early morning classes and late-night study sessions, some caffeine will do the trick to get your college student going. Give them a boost with this Starbucks gift card that allows them to redeem it at their local store, where they can purchase their favorite drinks, snacks and meals. The gift card comes in $25, $50 and $100 options.?

Spotify Premium Gift Card

Spotify is a digital music, podcast and video platform that gives you access to millions of songs and content. Gift the college student in your life three months of Spotify Premium, which allows for an ad-free listening experience.?

Best home and kitchen gifts for college students?

Capri Blue Volcano Capiz Jar Candle?

Whether it’s creating a cozy feel or helping clear their mind —? candles are an unspoken must for college students with apartments, no matter who they are. This Capri Blue candle has a fresh but slightly fruity scent with notes of mountain greens, lemons, limes and more. Depending on the size of the vessel —which come in colors like gold selenite, mercury and matte black — these candles have burn times ranging from 25 to 250 hours.

Bearaby Medium Hugget Weighted Pillow

The Hugget weighted pillow can provide therapeutic sensory and stress relief, according to Bearaby, which makes some of our favorite weighted blankets. The Select Wellness Award winner is made from a plant-based, all-natural rubber foam and is encased in organic cotton, according to the brand. The medium knot pillow is approximately 8 inches tall, and the pillow is also available in a small size and a large size.

Hatch Restore 2?

If your college student struggles to wake up, consider getting this sunrise alarm clock. Rather than waking up to an abrupt sound, this clock can gradually wake them up by mimicking the light of a sunrise, according to the brand. It’s an easier way to wake up since it eases you into it and makes it a pleasurable and non-dreadful experience, according to Select associate updates editor Zoe Malin. It also has music, rest and meditation exercises, sleep stories and sunset lights to wind down after a long day of classes.?

Keurig K-Mini

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, according to the brand. 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.

Anyday College Dorm Set

Malin says this microwave-safe four-piece glassware set allowed her to make eggs, fish, steamed vegetables and more when she was in college, providing her with easy alternatives to her dining hall. These glass containers and silicone lids are ideal for safe microwave cooking and are completely dishwasher-, freezer- and oven-safe, according to the brand. The set includes two small dishes, a medium deep dish and a medium shallow dish.

Urban Outfitters Victoria Bar Cart?

Bar carts are staple gifts because they double as decor and room-saving furniture. If your college student is 21 and over or simply wants to display their best drinkware glasses, they can do so using this cart from Urban Outfitters. The industrial style cart, which is available in five colors including gold, has two mirrored shelves that give your student space to store bar essentials, coffee table books, games, recipe books and more, according to the brand.

Best travel gifts for college students

The North Face Recon Backpack

A supportive backpack to keep their laptop and school supplies in one place is needed. This option from The North Face is certified by the American Chiropractic Association because of the brand’s shoulder straps and a rounded back panel, according to the brand. It also has two exterior pockets, an interior laptop compartment and a large main compartment for books and binders. The smaller front compartments can also hold tablets, sunglasses, phones and more, according to the brand.

Beis Weekender Bag

Whether they’re visiting friends at other colleges or coming home for breaks and holidays, this weekender bag can fit everything your student needs while away from school. I love using this bag because it has designated compartments for all of my belongings, so I don’t have to fish for my items inside one big compartment. It has a zip-around bottom for shoes, a laptop sleeve, key leash, two slip pockets, one large interior pocket and? a trolley sleeve, making it easy to carry around when I have other luggage with me. It comes in a mini version and nine colors, including black, beige and maple.?

Calpak Medium Clear Cosmetic Case

To help keep your student organized at home and on the go, consider purchasing a toiletry bag for their belongings. It has a water-resistant exterior, dual-lay flat handles, an interior mesh zipper and two large interior spaces to pack their must-have items, according to the brand. You can get it in three sizes — small, medium and large — and it comes in seven colors, including stone, dragonfruit and black.

Leatherology Small Double Zip Toiletry Bag

This leather dopp kit can keep your student’s grooming products in one place without taking up too much space in their bag or on the counter. It has a water-resistant lining, a main compartment with mesh pockets, two zippered compartments and a front compartment that has elastic bands to make sure everything stays secure while traveling, according to the brand. It’s available in seven colors and comes in a large size as well.

Best skin care and hair care gifts for college students

Rhode Skin The Peptide Lip Tints

Scrolling on social media, your college student has most likely seen everyone using the tinted version of the bestselling Rhode Skin Peptide Lip Treatment. This set of four lip balms has ingredients like peptides to plump and reduce fine lines, and shea butter to moisturize their lips, according to the brand. The balms provide sheer, buildable coverage and come in espresso (rich brown), toast (rose taupe), raspberry jelly (crushed berry) and ribbon (sheer pink).

Laneige Heavenly Hydration Set

Laneige — the brand behind our favorite lip masks — created this holiday set with some of our favorite and expert-recommended products. The trio of minis includes the Cream Skin Refillable Toner & Moisturizer with Ceramides and Peptides to protect the skin barrier and soothe any inflammation, Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream Moisturizer to moisturize and hydrate the skin and the Lip Sleeping Mask in Berry to add moisturize and smooth lips, according to the brand.?

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

This expert-recommended hair dryer prevents excessive heat damage, eliminates frizz and provides shine, according to the brand. It’s also suitable for all hair types because it comes with five styling attachments, including a diffuser, styling concentrator, flyaway attachment, gentle air attachment and a wide-tooth comb. Along with choosing which attachment they want to use, they can continue customizing their blow-drying routine by choosing which speed and heat settings they want.?

Phlur Discovery Set?

With eight scents, your college student can find their new go-to perfume or layer them for their own concoction as they dip into the world of fragrances. Some fragrances include their bestselling Missing Person perfume, which has a floral musk scent, but others have spicy, bright, warm, cozy and floral notes, making it suitable for everyone, according to the brand. There is also a fragrance discovery kit that comes with two additional scents, Solar Power and Tangerine Boy.?

Best clothing and accessory gifts for college students?

Alo Accolade Hoodie

If there is a staple to any college uniform, it’s a hoodie. The Alo Accolade Hoodie, which is made out of diagonal French terry, is designed to have an oversized look, according to the brand. This comfortable piece of outerwear is available for men and women and comes in eight colors, including black, white and espresso. Complete your college student’s lounge look by gifting them matching sweatpants.?

Abercrombie NFL by Abercrombie Graphic Tee

If your college student is a fan of sports, consider getting them merchandise so they can support their favorite team. These graphic tees are made from 100% cotton fabric and offer a relaxed fit, according to Abercrombie. The short-sleeve shirts come in 45 styles representing different teams and past league events, six sizes and two t-shirt lengths.?

Veja Campo Sneakers

As important as it is to have good athletic sneakers, having a staple lifestyle shoe is a must for college students on days they need to present in class or zhuzh up their outfit. These durable shoes are made of ChromeFree leather and rubber outsoles, which are easy to spot treat using a damp cloth, according to the brand. The Veja Campo sneakers are available in both 尘别苍’蝉 and wo尘别苍’蝉 sizes, and they come in 24 colors to match their personal style.?

Kyle Cavan Campus Necklace

Get in the school spirit with jewelry that’s specific to their university. With more than 120 universities available to shop, your student can wear necklaces, earrings or bracelets that represent their school and feature school colors, campus landmarks, coordinates and more. The accessories come in three materials, including sterling silver, Cavan gold and 14K gold. If you don’t find your student’s university, you can also purchase sorority-specific jewelry or even customize a piece for them.?

Why trust Select?

Bianca Alvarez has been covering lifestyle topics for a year and has written about various gift guides including beauty and wellness gifts and teen girl gifts. For this piece, she rounded up expert-recommended products, highly rated ones and Select staff favorites.

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