When kids go off to college, they quickly realize what they need, yet don’t have. The kid who had everything in high school can find out what they are missing once they go off on their own, and it might surprise them, and you. Sure they may be living in the dorm and getting their food from the cafeteria, but their needs and wants become quite evident when they are no longer living most of their time at home anymore. I have a great list of ideas to share that work great for gifts for a college student. I’ve learned a lot already being that my first son is off to college this year. I’ve learned quickly too what he needs!
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Gifts for a College Student Son
When my oldest son was in high school, he really had all the things he needed. So his gifts tended to be just money or clothes. He even struggled to make much of a gift wish list at all. But now that he’s in college, it’s a whole new world for him. He needs things he’s never needed before. Now he finds that things he once thought were boring gifts are now things that make his life better.
Below is a list of ideas that in my son’s first semester away at college we realized he needed. We found this out by either talking with him or because he asked for these items. Living the college life has helped him realize what he needs and wants most. These make great gifts!
My son got lucky. He got placed in the new dorm building. He was ecstatic to hear it had air conditioning. Great! But the reality was, once he was living in the dorm, he realized even with air conditioning, his dorm room was still very hot. He saw other students with fans in their dorm rooms. Some of the fans he saw were attached to the bedframe or students propped them up around the room. I set about trying to find the best fan I could for him. I finally found it! And once he had it up and working in his room, he said it was the best gift ever! It really improved his comfort level.
The fan was more than ideal! He loved how quiet it was, how it attached so nicely to his bedframe, and that it was rechargeable. Who knew a fan could make such a difference in his quality of life! So simple yet so fabulous!
Sharing a dorm room can be tough. It’s a small space to live in with another person, especially if your kid is used to having his own room. Roommates can make too much sound and annoy each other. So headphones are a necessity to keep the peace. Rechargeable wireless headphones that can hold a long charge are important. Rechargeable things are important in a dorm room if electrical outlets are not in ideal locations. Sure extension cords can be used, but being wireless with gadgets and electronics is ideal.
Water Filter Pitcher
Whether your son just wants better tasting water than the dorm offers, wants to avoid hauling heavy water bottles up to his dorm room, or just wants healthier water, a water filter is a fantastic gift. If I were to have offered to buy my son a water filter in high school he could have thought I was nuts! But now, he loves the idea! Oh, how our opinions change when our life circumstances change. A water filter is also something he can take with him to his next housing situation at school so it’s a great and useful gift.
College Sweatshirt or Other Gear
I was amazed to find out that I could find my son’s college clothing on Amazon. It was a pleasant surprise to find that I could buy him a University of Wisconsin sweatshirt without having to buy it on campus, or through the expensive campus bookstore. I found many options online to buy my son college-branded clothing at cheaper prices. Check on Amazon for your son’s college to see if they sell such products.
There are other great products offered too at the campus store for gift ideas such as water bottles, coffee mugs, throw blankets, baseball hats, winter hats, magnets, t-shirts, pajamas, and drinking glasses. A great option also is to call the bookstore and buy a gift card over the phone. If they can’t mail it out to you, maybe your son can go pick it up and buy something right there on the spot.
I adore that my son is really into playing games with other college students in his dorm. They are gathering in each other’s dorm rooms to play games frequently. They are playing everything from Monopoly and Clue to the explicit game Cards Against Humanity. Whether you agree with that or not, you can certainly get games that are more PG13 and leave the others to your son’s own discretion to buy. Being an adult now means they make their own choices, and it’s certainly a very popular game with many adults. That being said, as his parent, there are so many great games that don’t touch on those touchy subjects that you can get for him (or her!).
Here are a few games my son loves to play with his college friends:
If your son is athletic or a weight lifter like my son, they will love the added benefit of having added protein every day from a supplement. At home, my son uses this 100% whey protein powder in addition to consuming a lot of protein to support and promote his working out efforts, but at college, it’s even harder to get the extra protein. He can’t just come to the kitchen and consume extra protein. Yes, he does have a fridge and a means to have food in his dorm room, it’s just a bit more difficult for him to get the extra protein than it is at home. So the protein powder is a great option.
Recently I bought this for my son as a gift and he was totally overjoyed!
He also likes this one:
A Basket of Snacks
Now my son has always liked snacks, but he’s never appreciated them as much as he does now that he doesn’t have access to the home pantry and fridge. Every time we see him he loves to go shopping for snacks, which is not something he ever wanted to do before college. It’s fun taking him shopping and letting him pick out snacks!
A basket full of favorite snacks will bring a huge smile to his face at Christmas because he will be able to take it back to school with him. Having a stockpile of snacks and food in the dorm room is important for when he doesn’t have time to go to the cafeteria. It’s also great for late-night snacks when hunger hits but the cafeteria isn’t open.
Here are some of his favorites:
Too old for fruit snacks? No! Fruit snacks aren’t just for little kids, they are for big kids too!
Fruit snacks are always a winner! They are sweet and tasty and easy to eat quickly or on the go. I had to smile when my son recently threw a big box of fruit snacks into the cart.
Protein bars are a great choice too for a snack basket. He can get that extra protein which not only boosts his protein intake but can stave off hunger until the next meal. I know I can’t think well when I’m hungry, to keep this from happening to him when he needs to be using maximum brain power on school work, protein bars are a fab idea.
Real beef snacks are always a winner with my son. Beef Jerky is a good source of protein and a way my son loves to add more protein to his diet.
The little packs are nice to grab and go for on-the-go nutrition.
Nuts are a wonderful source of protein as well to stave off hunger quickly.
Healthy Granola Bars with Protein
Healthy granola bars with protein are a terrific idea to add to a snack basket. Again it can be grabbed as he rushes out the door or just enjoyed in his dorm room.
Casual Comfy Clothing
This is totally my son’s style, comfy clothing he can feel comfortable in. This type of clothing is perfect for lounging around the dorm room or when zipping around to classes on campus. This is the exact shirt my son picked out for himself so it’s ideal for a college student!
A jacket is always a great idea, especially when living in areas where it gets cold in winter… like where we live!
A Chromebook is a fabulous idea for gifts for a college student if they simply need access to the internet. It’s cheaper to buy a Chromebook than a laptop so if they don’t need a laptop, this is a great way to go. Or maybe get it in addition to the laptop for another option for him to access online things.
Gift Certificates or Travel Vouchers
Another perfect idea for a college-aged son is gift certificates for stores like Target, Walmart, or the grocery store. This way he can get his own snacks whenever he can get to the store. Amazon gift cards are perfect too. My son has ordered things from Amazon and had them delivered right to the dorm front desk.
Travel vouchers are perfect ideas for gifts for college students also because they may want to plan a trip with their buddies for spring break.
Check out the convenient online Visa Travel Check below. Also, check for all countries via these links.
My college son loves novelty socks. He sent me a text with his gift wish list and it said, “Weird socks. Not a typo.” I laughed when I got the text. He’s very into wearing fun silly socks. It’s great to me to see how he’s really expressing himself in what he’s choosing to wear. Here’s the pack he loved!
Single Cup Serving Keurig Coffee Maker
A Keurig coffee maker is ideal for a college student because it makes one cup at a time right in the mug. There’s no need to mess with coffee grounds, filters, or cleaning up a traditional coffee pot. The pods are easy and convenient to use. Buy him some pods to start off with and a carousel. These can be expensive for a college student, but a great gift that you can surprise him with all year long in care packages. There are also hot chocolate pods for those who don’t like coffee.
Many cans come with peel up lids these days, but there are some cans that need an opener out there still. Get him a can opener so he has the option of opening cans if he needs to for meals in his dorm room. This one is perfect for a dorm room.
Clothes Hamper on Wheels with a Handle
This hamper is a huge plus for college, and a gift they would only enjoy as a college student. Before that, it would seem like a boring useless gift. But when they have to haul their laundry to the laundry room down an elevator and down the hall, a hamper on wheels with a handle is a must! This way they won’t have to carry the heavy hamper loaded with clothes, but simply pull it. And the detergent can go right in the hamper too! My son loves this hamper! It makes his life so much easier!
He will be spending time sitting in his bed a lot in the dorm room. Even if they have a couch in their dorm room, a significant amount of their lounging time will be spent in their bed. To make bed sitting more comfortable, get him a back pillow.
A portable hammock to use around campus is a perfect idea for a college student, if they have trees or a park near or on campus. This is a fun idea for when it’s warm out and they want to get outside to read or listen to music to unwind. A hammock is a great idea for relaxing outside when the weather is warm and to get out of the dorm room.
Enjoy shopping for gifts for college students! Have fun with it!
I hope you have found this post helpful in thinking of ideas that your son will enjoy and that he will find useful in college. Happy holidays! Have an amazing holiday season with your college son and the rest of your family.
Looking for more gift guides for sons? Men? Women? Check out these ideas: