If you have high school kids to buy gifts for, shopping can be tricky since it’s almost impossible to keep up with which brands are in or out. College kids are no easier, especially since they are no longer under roof (sniff.)
We are here to help! We’ve been asking our kids (and their roommates, friends, and significant others) and gathered their responses for this list. We love their suggestions and hope that you and your kids will too.
Gifts for College Kids and Teens
LuMee Illuminated Cell Phone Case – a phone case that lights up around the perimeter, creating better visuals for selfies even at night, is a perfect gift for your selfie-loving kid. Take a look at the range of colors offered, too.
Echo Dot Amazon has recently redesigned its new lower priced Echo Dot making it one of the best buys for a personal assistant. This small voice-activated device can search online for information, play music on command, get sports scores and the weather, answer math questions, order a pizza, Uber or almost anything sold on Amazon.
Allbird Shoes – you have to trust us on this but these shoes may be the single most comfortable footwear we have ever worn. Made in New Zealand from the wool of the softest sheep on the planet, these are lightweight, washable, and very durable. We have given them to our sons, daughters, moms and best girlfriends and we covet the ones we wear every day. Put these shoes on your list, too.
Spikeball– while you might not have heard of it, college kids across the country have discovered this lively game. Four players compete, two on two, and spike a small ball on what looks like a mini trampoline. Described as a cross between four-square and volleyball, this is great for cross training or a super-energized work out.
Cool Mist Travel Humidifier Stick– if your kid attends college in a very dry climate, especially during the winter, having an easy way to add a little moisture into the air will help them through the cold months. We thought this was ingenious and, at $20, very well priced .
HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer– we’ve sacrificed real, hold in your hand, photographs for the convenience of the digital ones we store by the thousands in our phones. With the HP Sprocket Printer, your kids can print out pics, wirelessly, to have and to hold.
Revolar – we are big fans of this personal security device that is small enough to be worn inside clothing or fastened onto a key chain. After a simple set up and pairing with a cell phone, the alarm can be activated by the press of a button. GPS coordinates are then sent to five designated contacts with a yellow alarm for mild concern or red alarm for something more serious.
The ABCs of Adulthood: An Alphabet of Life Lessons– we love giving books as gifts, especially when the book is this one. New York Times bestselling author Deborah Copaken began writing this guide to life for her eldest son as he was going to college filling it with all she wanted to say on the subject of adulting. Noted sculptor Randy Polumbo is Copaken’s co-author and helped her photograph all the beautiful ABC illustrations.
Umbra Reflexion Jewelry Box – this Toronto based company makes beautiful and inventive jewelry/storage boxes that we love for both our sons and daughters. This one, the Reflexion, caught our eye for girls – it does double-duty as a makeup mirror which pops up when the lid is opened.
Jewelry – for a surprise inside a jewelry box surprise, take a look at the choker necklaces by Dogeared. This one, “Pearls of Love” Sterling Silver and Pearl Necklace is sooo pretty, but there are loads of designs and price points to choose from for this very “in” style of necklace right now.
Catan – Are you looking for a board game that your entire family can enjoy? Look no further than Catan, an international award-winning favorite will be a welcome change from Monopoly.
French Press Coffee Maker – Our kids have grown up in a coffee culture and they drink it at record levels, so why not treat them to a new way of brewing their favorite beverage? We’ve tried loads of different brewing machines and methods through the years but we keep coming back to our favorite, the French press. The Bodum French Press Coffee Maker is among the most popular brands and these from Le Creuset caught our eye with all the gorgeous color choices. Finally, take a look at the SterlingPro Double Wall Stainless Steel French Press. Lightweight and easy to clean, it keeps coffee hotter longer and is unbreakable – two big plusses.
Yeti – stainless-steel mugs made by this Austin-based company keep coffee hot for 12 hours. The heat-storing capability is a big part of the magic in the brand and your kid will LOVE unwrapping a Yeti mug engraved with their college logo. If their school isn’t on the list, you can still personalize the mugs with initials, instead.
Ball Mason Jar Glasses– it makes us so happy when our kids discover heritage brands, and the Ball Corporation, maker of glass jars for preserving fruits since 1880, has definitely been found by a younger generation. Look for jar-shaped glasses or mugs with handles to treat your kid to an iconic set of glasses that match.
Blender – has your kid become a smoothie fan or a devote of green drinks? Getting them a personal blender (rather than a larger counter-top model) is a good choice as they take us less counter space and some come with to-go cup attachments. Consumer Reports tested dozens of blenders and gave the Nutri Ninja high marks.
Blue tooth speakers – the choice of wireless speakers is seemingly endless so we looked to see which models get solid reviews, are waterproof and come in under $100. We chose the JBL Flip 3 Splashproof for these reasons but also because it comes in a rainbow of colors. After all, why should all of our electronics just be basic black?Portable charger – teens and college kids often leave home in the morning and don’t return until late in the evening and the last thing they need is a dead phone battery. The Anker Candy bar-Sized Portable Charger is one we’ve heard great things about.
Personalized note cards – we have tried to teach our kids the importance of good manners and having personalized stationary or note cards will underline that point. You may already be familiar with Paperless Post for online invitations; take a look at the great designs they offer for real paper stationery. Otherwise, Caspari makes Embossed Navy Initial Blank Notecardsthat are simple and elegant.
Monogrammed spa robe – we have a soft spot in our hearts for monogrammed gifts. Mark & Graham, a sister company to Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, has adorable cotton robes that are lightweight and washable. While you’re on the site, take a look at the wide range of gifts, and add a monogram to make your present truly personal.
Pillow – this luxury will be much appreciated if college kid’s pillow has gone flat, lumpy, or has become, shall we say, gross in other ways. Look at the pillow from Casper, the sleep company that makes and sells incredible mattresses and bedding. It can be tried out for 100 days and returned for a full refund if you and your kid are not satisfied. They will thank you when they finally tuck in for the night and maybe this is a subtle way to suggest that they could use a bit more shut-eye.
Bike – The Electra Townie bike comes in many speed-options and in amazing colors. They make coordinating baskets, bells, cup holders and more. These are the prettiest bikes you have ever seen!
Don’t forget a sturdy lock like the UShake Bike Lock Cable that will help your kid keep their new bike stored safely around campus.
Another inventive accessory for your bike-rider? A bracket for a phone like the Vibrelli Universal Bike Phone Mount Holder so your kid can keep both hands on the handlebars instead of holding their phone. Let’s hope that they keep their eyes on the road and use the voice activation features on cleverly mounted phones.
Laptop – if your high school, college kid or young adult has an outdated computer, there is no other gift that they will appreciate more than a new laptop. Although expensive, look for student discounts offered by Apple, Microsoft or at stores like Best Buy. Here’s the fine print:
- Apple offers a discount to college students, seniors who have their admission letters, or college parents.
- Microsoft offers discounts to K-12 and college students or their parents.
Collegiate Gifts – our kids love gifts with their school logo, colors or mascot as part of the design. The college bookstore is the first place to look but Amazons has loads of things to choose from including collegiate duct tape (who knew!) Here’s a list of other sources that also sell collegiate gear.
Looking for a gift for a college-bound kid that they can use in the dorm? Here are our top choices for true dorm essentials:
Read 10 Things All Freshmen Need to Bring to College and consider some of these suggestions, all good, all different price points.
3. Mattress Encasement…AllerEase brand for mattress and pillow encasements.
7. Shower Caddy…Hanging Mesh Shower Caddy
9. Surge Protector…Surge Protector with 4 USB Ports
Gift cards to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and The Container Store are always great ideas for high school graduation gifts. They can shop for essentials and storage crates (once they know more about their dorms) and have them shipped to the stores closest to their schools if they are going far away.
We receive a small amount of compensation from some of the links in this post.
Photo credit: Laura LaRose