Seven Practical Gifts for College Students

You may be expecting to see the twins from “The Shining,” but it’s really a dorm hallway. Send your favorite college student back to school with a gift to brighten up such institutional living. Photo:

The holiday season is well under way. If you’ve got someone on your list who’s headed to college next semester or already there, here are some practical suggestions to send them back to school with a smile:

Gift cards. Funds are usually low in college, so a gift card is always welcome and generally a safe choice. You can opt for a gift card to a grocery store near their college, a gas station (if they drive), an airline if they’re attending college out of state, restaurants or coffee shops near their school, or gift certificates for their college bookstore.

Other practical options include gift cards from Visa, Amazon.com, an office store such as Staples or Office Depot, or a bookstore such as Barnes & Noble. You can also opt for something more general, such as a gift card to a big-box store such as Target or Wal-Mart.

Netflix subscription. They can stream Netflix on their computer anywhere and have access to movies, TV shows, and even some educational documentaries (be optimistic). Plus, it can save them money on ordering cable every month.

Small coffeemaker and coffee. Heading to a coffee shop every morning before class can get pricey. You’ll be saving them a nice chunk of change by buying a small coffee pot so they can make their own. Complete the gift with some additions like a mug (even a portable one), coffee filters, and, of course, coffee.

Portable phone charger. Going from work to class to a friend’s house to studying at the library can drain a cellphone’s battery. If you know their type of phone, opt for something they can use to charge their phone on the go. Options include phone cases lined with a backup battery and handbags with sewn-in chargers.

Kitchen gadgets. Giving a student a few simple cooking-related items can make eating in their dorm or apartment a lot simpler. If they’re in the dorm, even a chopping board and knife can let them make a quick salad or cut veggies for a snack. If they’re headed to an apartment, a crock pot is a good option to make simple, inexpensive meals without taking a lot of time. It doesn’t use much electricity (so their utility bill won’t go up), and it’s a great way to turn inexpensive cuts of meat into delicious meals.

Basket of nonperishables. Food is always a bit tricky in college. To give them a break from dorm food or fast food, make a basket of foods that doesn’t involve much cooking and has some shelf life. Some suggestions are granola bars, oatmeal, dried fruit, trail mix, nuts, popcorn, and microwavable items such as rice, mac and cheese, soup, and pasta.

Noise-canceling headphones. Close quarters in dorm rooms, apartments with roommates, and even public spots around campus can be loud and chaotic when students are trying to concentrate. A nice pair of headphones can help them stay focused while studying or listening to their own music, shows, or online lectures without being distracted.

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