10 Best Gifts for College Students

10 Best Gifts for College Students

Setting up shop in a new dorm away from home is a huge step for college students. Moving away from home for the first time can seem scary yet exciting. This transition is the perfect time to snag a gift for the college student in your life that might need a little taste of home or some things to make their life easier. Dorms are notoriously tiny, which means storage items are a must. Candles and oil diffusers are perfect for making a new space feel like home. Mattress pads can help achieve a good night’s rest, even on the crummiest dorm bed. Whether you’re looking for a gift to combat homesickness or maximize storage space, we’ve curated the top 10 gifts for college students. 

1. Candles

There’s nothing better than curling up and lighting a favorite candle that reminds you of home! Smells that bring back fond memories or places are extremely comforting to many people leaving home. Memories candles, carefully made to evoke a sense of nostalgia, are perfect gifts for college students that might be experiencing homesickness. Going to school far from home can make students feel trapped and isolated. Candles that remind them of home will surely cure their homesickness. 

candles remind you of home

Candles inspired by college towns are a super unique gift idea as well. What better way to get into the school groove than to light a candle inspired by the place they’ve chosen to spend their college years? The regions of the brain that control our emotions have a direct relationship with our sense of smell. There are tons of scents for every need. Certain smells, such as lavender and jasmine, can promote sensations of relaxation and tranquility. The stimulating effects of citrus, eucalyptus and mint might help with concentration. Some smells, like pine and rosemary, are even claimed to improve mood. Changing the feel of a space is as simple as changing the way it smells. Pair a nice candle with a nice plush blanket for a cozy feel in the colder months or a photo collage of family and friends to remind them of home.

2. Mini Fridge

A mini fridge is a dorm essential. There will undoubtedly be times when the college student in your life is hungry but does not want to travel all the way to the dining hall to eat. Mini fridges are ideal for keeping snacks and drinks on hand. Students are prone to being short on time. Having the ability to grab something from their personal fridge will save time and stress on the days they’re rushing to class. 

Plus, sometimes having a lazy day is needed. Being able to whip up something easy or microwavable from the comfort of their dorm is a priceless gift. You can pair a new mini fridge with a stockpile of dorm snacks and drinks. Every college kid will greatly appreciate a snack food care package!

3. Reed Oil Diffusers

reed oil diffusers gift idea

Reed diffusers are great candle alternatives in dorms where burning candles isn’t possible. Open flames are prohibited in some apartment buildings and, with limited space, there’s not always a great spot for a candle. The good news is that students that want to freshen up their living space can benefit greatly from reed diffusers!

Reed diffusers function by putting fragrance or essential oil in a container similar to a vase and adding reeds. The reeds stick up into the air and past the container's mouth. Reeds naturally contain long, slender capillaries that act like straws to absorb the oil. Once the oil reaches the exposed portion of the reed, it diffuses the scent into the room! Reed diffusers are very flexible, and you can put them almost anywhere there is room. They even blend perfectly with any type of decor!

4. Storage Essentials

The first step to living in a small dorm is organization. When college students are organizing their space, it’s helpful to think of innovative ways to store belongings. To make sure there is space for everything they need, give them items to help them use every square inch of their space (including the walls and beneath the bed).

Desktop organizers are a college must-have. Storing everything needed for studying and homework can be a challenge. Cluttered study spaces make for a huge distraction. Operating in a clean and decluttered environment is much more relaxing, as well. Using a desktop organizer is great for storing things like makeup and jewelry too. 

Utilizing vertical space is vital when it comes to maximizing storage space. Choosing furniture that is taller and more slender will create more space for items like clothing while keeping the path through the living space unobstructed. Hanging storage from walls is a great way to maximize floor space for other things too. There are tons of great options, like over-the-door shoe racks, hanging cabinets for jewelry or body care items, and even storage racks for over a mini fridge! Finally, choosing furniture with multiple uses can be a total lifesaver. Coffee tables with built-in storage are perfect for small apartments. Storage ottomans are great for seating with an added bonus. Choosing a bed frame with drawers beneath can create a load of space, as well.

5. Drink Accessories

french press coffee

For late-night energy drink-fueled study sessions, you can find the perfect drink accessory for the student in your life. Coffee lovers can never have enough gadgets to play with in the kitchen. Giving them something unique in style or function will surely excite them. Quick, pod-style coffee makers are perfect for getting out the door quickly. Buying them a frother or bean grinder can allow them to explore making premium drinks at home. 

If they’re adventurous, they might even enjoy trying a new coffee. There are so many accessories for tea lovers too. There are hundreds of unique loose-leaf tea infusers and tea bag holders. Giving an ornate teaspoon or tea set is great for a tea lover focused on aesthetics. You can find one of these to fit the needs and style of any college tea drinker you know.

Is your college student more of a smoothie or protein shake kind of person? Blender bottles are an amazing, low-profile alternative to traditional blenders. Blenders are often noisy and a pain to clean out. Blender bottles are a combination of a drink bottle and blender in one, making it super easy to prepare a single serving of any shake or smoothie. Since they come with a lid, it’s really easy to take a blender bottle on the go too. 

Similarly, shaker bottles work great for mixing other drinks. Powdered energy drinks have become very popular among college students recently. Shaker bottles cut down on mixing time and allow the drink to be mixed at any point. They work by shaking around a metal mesh ball submerged inside the bottle, mixing the contents evenly and easily. Most of them are completely dishwasher-safe, too, which is always a big plus.

6. Water Filter Alternatives

filtered bottle cost effective

Speaking of drinking, having a way to filter water from an apartment or dorm is crucial. Many old dorms have some funky-tasting water, leading to the endless purchase of bottled water. Not only is it cost-ineffective to buy bottled water, but it’s also super hard to make space for an entire case of water bottles. Filtering the water directly from your sink with an attachable filter works great, but not all sinks are created equal. It can also be a hassle to try to do things like brushing your teeth around a big, clunky water-filtering apparatus. Instead, a filtered pitcher or filtered water bottle makes a perfect alternative that takes up minimal space in a small fridge. These reusable vessels are also more environmentally friendly.

7. Bathroom Caddy

Not having a shower in their dorm room can be a total drag for some college students. It can be weird and awkward to carry all of your bathroom items to and from the dorm showers. Being given a caddy for toting personal care items will make bathing a lot less cumbersome. Find one that is mesh or waterproof to cut down on mildew and dry time, or snag one in a unique style to fit the giftee’s personality. 

You can even take this gift to the next level by stocking it full of personalized essentials like makeup wipes, mouthwash or body wash with their favorite scent. Throw in some shower shoes or bathroom slippers for the post-shower walk back to their dorm. Specially designed, microfiber hair towels are a great gift too. Your college student will thank you when they inevitably forget these items.

8. Mattress Pad

College kids don’t always get to choose the bed they’ll be sleeping in for the next nine months, which can lead to some truly horrific sleep. Sleep is a top priority for students, especially with the limited time they have to catch those well-deserved Zs. Spending the night tossing and turning on a lumpy, sad mattress is not the vibe. 

Topping the mattress with a foam pad is an extremely easy remedy for sleepless college nights. There are some that are super firm for bodies that need lots of support and some that are soft and squishy for those that want to be cradled by a cloud while they sleep. Some mattress toppers are even made with a cooling gel layer to help regulate the body’s temperature. This can be especially helpful in dorms with questionable air conditioning. Since they come in such a wide variety, there’s no doubt that you’ll find one perfect for your student’s needs. Pair this gift with a memory foam pillow or a new plush blanket to up the cozy factor!

9. Weighted Blanket

weighted blanket comfort

Weighted blankets provide all the comfort of a giant hug. Weighted blankets come in two varieties: woven and duvet. While duvet-style blankets have plastic or glass beads sewn inside, woven weighted blankets are created with incredibly dense yarn. Blankets with beads inside are sewn into a pattern of square pockets that keep the beads in place. 

These blankets, which can weigh between 5 and 30 pounds, are modeled after the therapeutic method known as Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS). To promote calmness and reduce stress, DPS applies a controlled amount of pressure. A weighted blanket's weight is pleasant rather than oppressive or suffocating. Starting off with a lighter blanket might be helpful if you’re worried about getting one that’s too heavy. There are even options that are machine-washable. With the stress of being away at school, weighted blankets are the perfect gift for college students.

10. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Being so close to your neighbors and having roommates can lead to a noisy environment. Not being able to focus on studying can cause a lot of stress for college students, so giving them a way to tune out the world around them is important. Noise-canceling headphones are perfect for listening to calming music or white noise during a night of homework. Sometimes it’s even helpful to pop on headphones at bedtime to dampen the surrounding noise while falling asleep.

college student wearing headphones

Playing music can help improve your college student’s mood and get them ready for their day, too. Nobody wants to be the noisy neighbor blasting music at 7 a.m. Being able to jam out to their favorite tunes while remaining respectful of their roommates and neighbors will keep everyone involved happy. Pairing this gift with music memorabilia or concert tickets will make any music lover melt.


There are tons of ways to prepare the college student you know for dorm life. Getting a gift that’s fun yet practical can seem really overwhelming at first. Helping them out by giving them a useful gift they likely wouldn’t have thought of themself will show them how thoughtful you are. They’ll surely appreciate anything and everything that will improve life on campus.


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