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 of their favorite 2018 gifts. We love their suggestions and hope that you and your kids will too.
Please note that we receive small amounts of compensation from purchases made through some of the links it this post.
2018 Gifts for College Kids and Teens
Taking and printing out photos – instantly – with a Fujifilm Instax Mini 9, makes old school photography cool again. Cameras come in light blue, cobalt, flamingo pink, smokey white, and lime green. Comes with a selfie mirror and macro lens to allow for one-of-a-kind keepsake photos.
My daughter received a Kendra Scott necklace and earrings for Christmas last year and has fallen in love with this designer. Now, Kendra has launched a new line of charms so that every one of her elegant pieces can be personalized in a way that speaks to a girl or young woman’s personality and style. Note: This is NOT your mother’s charm bracelet.
Using an electric kettle to heat water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate is the safest and fastest way to do so, especially with one that automatically shuts off once water has come to a boil.
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 Portable Charger is a top-selling charger that is super small and light weight.
Being able to drift off with gradually lowering light and wake up with the same kind of gradually increasing light has helped to make this the #1 best-seller light therapy Wake Up Light from Phillips. Backed by clinical research, this UV-free light might be what your teen or college student needs to wake up with an optimal mood and energy level. What a great thing that would be!
With a new speaker and new design, this amazing digital assistant is the go-to device to play music, check sports scores or the weather, order an Uber or a pizza, listen to books or a favorite podcast. Plus, you can call or message hands-free.
These bluetooth-enabled Apple AirPods connect instantly to the latest Apple devices, providing high-quality audio once they are positioned in your ears. They keep a charge for five hours of wireless listening time or three hours after just 15 minutes in the charging dock. Note: Airpods work with iPhone iOS 10, Apple watches 03, or Macs with macOS Sierra or later.
Taking a large bag when you are out and about is not what many of our daughters do. Instead, they grab their phones and go. Here is an adorable bag that can they can slip their phone into and that has an outside pocket for cash and cards. It comes in 13 colors so pick her favorite.
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.
Playing card and board games has become a very popular activity with teens and college students and this game, with the unlikely feline title, is one of the best sellers.
Convert a water bottle into a humidifier to use in over-heated dorms or bedrooms with this battery-operated stand. Perfect for traveling, too.
Teens and college kids should all have their own water bottles and, when it is one like this one, they will be much less likely to leave it behind or mistake it with a roommate’s or teammate’s. Comes in an array of great colors.
The best features of a home system are now also portable, with this use-at-home or go-anywhere device.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, NOW with great new colors and styles.
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.
This is one of THE most popular games our college kids and young adults play. This is definitely a game for the 18+ crowd.
This luxury will be much appreciated if your 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. And, if your student will soon be moving into their own apartment in the near future, consider one of their mattresses that arrive in a box. Get $50 off a Casper or Wave mattress with the code GROWNANDFLOWN
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 they can keep both hands on the handlebars instead of holding their phone.
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 here’s a list of dozens of other retailers that also sell collegiate gear.
Dorm Gifts for College-Bound Kids
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
Photo credit: Laura LaRose