The 56 best last-minute gifts for college students, from portable photo printers to the comfiest sheets

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Dec 16, 2021, 7:11 PM


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  • Practical, time-saving, and fun gifts are the best gifts for college students
  • As a college student, I compiled this list of 50+ gift ideas that students would love.
  • You want more gift suggestions? You can find gift ideas for teens and toddlers in our gift guide.

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There are a few things college students want. Clear skin Job security and fun. These are some of the things that gifts can do. Others can't, but they're still nice to have for how much they make our lives easier.

College students are today in a unique place in life. This is an important point to remember when you are thinking of gifts.

One assumption is that the student in your mind already has basics such as a shower caddy, lanyard to identify them, and a laundry basket that can keep several weeks worth of dirty clothes. This list has gifts that will complement what they already have.

Check out all 56 gifts for college students:

For parties and night in, this is a more modern card game


What Do You Meme? , available at Amazon, $29.99

Students today are part of the meme generation so this game will be very much appreciated. This set includes 75 of our most hilarious memes along with 360 caption cards. You can use these cards to create the most fun combinations possible for your study breaks or chill wine night games.

The easiest way to find your favourite fragrance is by searching on the internet.


Scentbird 6-month Subscription, Available from Scentbird, $84

The first step to finding your fragrance is choosing a scent that suits you. A lot of different scents can cost a lot and take a while to find the right one. Scentbirds is a perfume and cologne discovery subscription that helps you find your favorite perfumes by sending monthly options based on your preferences.

One of the best, most classic notebooks you've ever seen


Moleskine Classic Notebook (available on Amazon, 20.34

Moleskine books have a tradition of being used by creatives. If the student you're thinking of is a writer, for example, a Moleskine journal is a perfect gift to let them know you support them. These journals are great for taking notes.

Good wallet for holding their cards, cash, ID, and other essentials

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley Microfiber Zip ID wallet, $10

Vera Bradley's Zip ID wallet is an excellent option for students who need to show their student ID frequently but don't want a bulky bifold. The O ring is a sturdy and convenient place for students to keep their keys. It makes it easy to clip your wallet into any of their bags, like a bag or backpack.

To set the mood, use an aroma diffuser

Grove Collaborative

Grove Collaborative - Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Diffuser, 39.95

A diffuser can provide calming aromatherapy at home. This is great for dorms that don't allow candles. Grove Collaborative's aroma diffuser diffuses essential oils up to 5 hours at a given time. It also has LED light options. The minimalistic ceramic design blends well into any space.

A weighted blanket to change how you sleep


Target Tranquility Weighted Blannet, $49

Every college student needs better sleep. Weighted blankets apply a calming pressure on you, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up more rested. Tranquility's weighted, adjustable blanket is perfect for moving from one bed to another. It can also fit into a standard twin XL dorm bed.

To keep it all in order, a foolproof planner

Day Designer

Weekly Calendar, available on Day Designer, $59

They can keep track of all their assignments, exams and events with a planner. Day Designer makes luxurious planners that students love. There are daily and weekly options available. All planners have room for your schedules and checklists. You also have extra pages to record goals, future planning, notes and more.

Great coffee from all over the world to help them stay energized

Atlas Coffee Club

Atlas Coffee 3-month Subscription, $55

They will likely consume coffee if they are coffee drinkers. It's really great to have a good cup.

Atlas Coffee is a monthly subscription. This coffee subscription acts as a coffee tour around the world, bringing you the best single-origin coffees (with a postcard indicating its origin country) right to your doorstep. They'll also be provided with brewing tips as well as flavor notes.

Wireless over-ear headphones that provide noise cancellation for studying or working out are a popular choice


Beats Sole3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Ear Headphones, Amazon $129.95

Good wireless headphones are something every college student should have. This Beats pair has rich sound and up to 40 hours of listening time. They can also play back up to three hours after a five minute charge.

Jaybird Vista should be the choice of runners who require something lightweight but in-ear.

A waterproof speaker which can deliver bass


JBL FLIP5 Bluetooth Speaker, available at BH Photo, $129.95

An Bluetooth speaker, which can be used to set the mood for study night and bring life to parties, is a must-have. JBL's Flip 5 speaker, by JBL, is the best. It delivers a loud, clear bass, is waterproof, and lasts up to 12hrs without charging.

It is one of the most popular tablets. This tablet makes note-taking, entertainment and all other things so much easier.

Best Buy

2021 Apple iPad - Amazon: $479

You'll see iPads everywhere you go when you visit college campuses today. These compact rectangular boxes provide students with a wealth of entertainment. These slim rectangular boxes are a joy for students. They allow you to easily do everything in one place: note-taking, ereading, Netflix and leisure drawing. The new 256GB iPad ($479) makes a wonderful gift. If you want to take it up a notch, the highly-coveted and ultrafast 11" iPad Pro ($899) is even better.

If they have an iPad already, you may consider buying them an Apple Pencil ($129). This will increase the level of their gadget.

A bed frame that moves easily with the user

Lauren Savoie/Insider

Thuma Mattress Frames, Available at Thuma, Starting from $995

Good sleeping conditions are built upon a good frame . Thuma's features include interlocking Japanese joints that make it very sturdy and also makes it easy to move around and store. It is an excellent choice for young adults who are moving to smaller or older homes.

A small, portable travel photo printer for smartphones


Fujifilm Mini Link Bluetooth Photo Printer, Available at Target, Apple and Best Buy starting at $99.95

A mini Bluetooth printer makes it easy to transform iPhone photos into tangible memory. This is great for decorating their rooms. It's easy to download the app and use it with other features, like stickers and collages.

*This product is currently outof stock.

A quick, 10-minute breakfast that will make them save money and time


Dash Rapid-Egg Cooker, Target, $15.99

The Dash Rapid Egg Cooker may look gimmicky, but it is actually very useful. It is compact and can make almost any type of egg, hard-boiled, poached or scrambled in less than 10 minutes.

Portable projector the size of a soda bottle


Anker Nebula Capsule Smart Mini Projector - Amazon: $299.99

Anker's Nebula Capsule, a versatile mini projector that is portable and very powerful, is a great choice for college students looking to watch movies in the privacy of their own homes. It weighs just 1 pound and is the same size as a soda container, but it delivers a sharp image and 360-degree sound. It's also quiet and has a continuous playtime of four hours. Find a full review here.

Monthly subscription to personalized makeup, haircare and skincare samples delivered right to your door

Birchbox Man/Instagram

Birchbox 3-Month Subscription Available at Birchbox. $45

Students love to look and feel great but their limited budgets make it hard to purchase many expensive grooming products. Birchbox sends samples of new and beloved products once a month, so they can test out new finds and discover products they may want to buy a full size of in the future. It's also a lot of fun to receive a monthly present that's all about the recipient.

For holiday trips, a smart suitcase is essential


CarryOn, Available at Away Starting from $225

Away's popular suitcases are well-received. Their hard shell is lightweight but durable, their 360-degree spinner wheels make for seamless traveling, and the external (and ejectable and TSA-compliant) battery pack included can charge a smartphone five times over so they never have to sit behind a trash can at the airport for access to an outlet again. Away also guarantees it for life. See our complete review.

Calpak is also highly recommended.

An Amazon Prime membership

Tommaso Boddi / Getty Images

Amazon Prime membership $119

Amazon Prime memberships make your life simpler and more efficient. If you decide to gift one, the recipient will enjoy free two-day shipping; access to the Prime Now app, which provides free two-hour delivery on tens of thousands of items; Prime Video, Amazon's streaming video service; Prime Music; the Kindle Lending Library; Prime Reading; Prime Audible Channels; unlimited photo storage, and more.

Amazon Prime ($119 for a year) offers more than just free shipping. You can read all about its benefits here.

Childlike cereal for adults

Magic Spoon

Four Flavors available at Magic Spoon for $39

Magic Spoon, which is high in protein but low in sugar, is a new "childlike cereal" for adults. The four flavors are all delicious. Here's an easy way to show college-aged kids that it's possible not to lose the joy of being a child. You can read more in a personal review here.

Framed memories


Framebridge has Gift Cards or Frame a Memory starting at $25

Honor their most treasured memories, whether they are from family members, friends, or loved ones. Framebridge is an affordable option, but decor is something many college students neglect to buy in order not to spend elsewhere.

Students can store all their belongings in one place with this monogrammed leather shavebag


Leatherology Small Shave Bag - Available at Leatherology starting at $90 (monograms available for $10).

One of the most dreaded realities about college is that you will need to haul your bathroom items to a common area if you stay in dorms. You don't want to have to rely on a plastic tub caddy. Grab them a leather shave bag that they'll use for years to come -- they probably wouldn't justify the expense on their own, and they'll be grateful to have it.

Dagne Dover's Hunter neoprene cosmetic bag is a fashionable option for those who want a sleek look. It's available in a $35 price range and has the ability to hold makeup. If they have a lot of toiletries, you'll probably want to get the large size for $55.

ClassPass gift card for someone who would like to take a lot of boutique fitness classes but without spending a fortune


Gift Cards, Available at ClassPass, Starting at $50

Boutique fitness classes are expensive. ClassPass makes them less so. They'll be able to use ClassPass to help them find new classes or if they enjoy being active.

A customized poster of their favorite location


Get a custom Grafomap poster starting at $49

This customizable graphic map will help you remember your hometown, college or favorite place anywhere in the world.

A gym bag that is versatile enough to be used in professional settings


Herschel Supply Co. Nordstrom: Novel Duffel Bag. $90

An old gym bag, like the one you carry with your JanSport around, is not the best option for someone who needs it to be versatile. Herschel Supply Co. bags are reliable and durable. This bag has a separate compartment to hold your dress shoes or gym clothes.

The microwave-safe Ramen cooker is perfect for stressful nights or when you are short on time


Rapid Ramen Cooker available at Amazon for $10.99

Ramen will be cheap and delicious, so there will be many late nights. They should at least learn how to make it fast and perfect every time, even if they aren't going to eat it.

Mara Leighton

Senior Education and Personal Development Reporter. Insider Reviews

Mara Leighton is Insider Reviews' senior education/personal development reporter. She covered Yale's top course on happiness and essential workforce recovery programs. Mara also reported on a Johns Hopkins course in contact tracing that will help fill thousands of remote jobs. She's interviewed Google executives, presidential policy committee members, best-selling authors, leading researchers and professors, and NBC's Chuck Todd in her education coverage. She's most interested in personal development, skill-building, industry shifts, and increased accessibility for learners of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Previously, Mara covered e-commerce for Business Insider from 2017-2020. She has written thousands of reviews and explainers and profiled established and emerging D2C companies. She also blogs about major retail events and analyzes industry trends. She also produced the vertical's weekly newsletter. Say hello at or tweet her @maraleighton. Learn more about how our team of experts tests and reviews products at Insider here. Learn more about how we review educational and personal development products.

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Andrea Bossi, a freelance writer for Insider Reviews, focuses primarily on beauty and style. She is also a Forbes contributor as well as a published poet. Her music coverage includes hip-hop, rb, and especially hip-hop. If she's not writing you can find her biking, trying new vegan recipes, exploring the city on her bike or with friends dancing (virtually for now). Bossi's interests in both what she studies and her writings show that she is still fascinated by the surprising connections between many things.

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