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16 Incredibly Useful (But Cheap) Gifts for College Students

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Practical gifts college students totally want you to buy

college student Christmas gift wrapped with a red bow

Deciding on what to give a college student is never as simple as it seems…

What will they actually use at school? What kind of things are most useful to a college kid?

Well, for one: food.

It’s something that’ll always be met with excitement. And while that example wasn’t exactly a revelation, it does serve as a reminder broke students aren’t difficult to please.

In this post, you’ll find cheap ideas which will improve improve the giftee’s life in the best of ways.

Here are 16 useful gifts for college students that’ll make them wonder, “how did you know I needed this??”


Useful Gifts for Students in College

1. Outlet Extender With USB Ports

Multi Plug Outlet Extender with USB Wall Charger and Night Light, 3 Electrical Outlet Splitter 2 USB Phone Charger Wall Plug for Cruise Essentials, Multiple Power Outlet Expander with Charging Station Shop Now on Amazon

Kids in college have lots of gadgets that need charging. Yet dorm rooms never seem to have enough outlets to plug everything in…

The solution: an outlet extender. It’ll help them maximize the limited socket real estate they’re sharing with roommates.

Just make sure to pick one that’s surge protected so nothing expensive gets fried!


2. Microwave-Ready Egg on a Bagel Maker

small ceramic dish for cooking bagel shaped eggs in microwave Shop Now on Uncommon Goods

The majority of college students living in the dorms only have one appliance they access at all times – the humble microwave. Thankfully with a little creativity it can be a very versatile cooking tool.

This ceramic dish not only turns eggs into an instant omelet, but also in the perfect shape for a delicious bagel sandwich.

And when it comes to grab and go foods, bagel sandwiches rein supreme. They’re a well-rounded meal because you can include a little bit of everything: whole grains, protein, and even greens.

With no mess and no fuss, skipping breakfast will become a thing of the past. Convenience is a huge factor for students, so you can be sure an egg on a bagel maker will be in constant use.


3. Personal Popcorn Popper

Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper with Handles | Collapsible Popcorn Bowl (Light Blue) Shop Now on Amazon

While we’re on the topic of microwave gadgets, here’s another one that really comes in handy:

A personal popcorn popper!

While instant bags are a great invention, popping corn kernels are so much cheaper. To illustrate, let’s do a quick comparison of the cost:

It might not seem like much but when you’re in college and living on a shoestring budget, every little bit helps.

Plus, the younger generations are particularly conscious when it comes eco-friendly choices. Being able to enjoy a satisfying snack while also cutting down on waste (i.e. instant popcorn bags) is a double win.

All in all, silicone microwave popcorn poppers are the epitome of practical college gifts.


4. Double-Layer Electronics Organizer

Double Layer Electronic Accessories Organizer, Travel Gear Bag for Cables Shop Now on Amazon

According to a 2013 study, college students own an average of 7 tech devices. And I’m sure that number has gone up by now!

A pouch for organizing it all is sure to be a big help for sorting out the jumbled pile of cords in their backpack.

Video: Gadget Organizer Review


5. Things to Do Before You Graduate College

175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College: Your Bucket List for the Ultimate College Experience (book) Shop Now on Amazon

From finding the perfect friend group to succeeding academically to exploring your newfound freedom, there’s a lot that goes into making your college experience a success. And some avenues of opportunity aren’t obvious until reflecting upon it years later.

Instead of getting trapped in the myth that you can (or even need to) “do it all,” 175+ Things to Do Before You Graduate College helps students figure out what’s most important to them and how to make it happen.

This book is full of ideas that will inspire freshman through senior year students to take advantage of the time they have at college. After all, you can’t go wrong with a gift of wisdom.


6. French Press Coffee Maker

12oz french press coffee maker gift idea Shop Now on Amazon

It’s no secret that college students go through a lot of coffee and, well, caffeine in general.

Keurigs are popular but they aren’t the end-all, be-all for coffee makers. In fact, the creator doesn’t even use his own invention and has admitted he regrets creating it.

Making a perfect cup of joe is just as easy with a French press. Plus the cost per cup is miles cheaper than paying for k-cups!

Pair this gift idea with a bag of coffee beans (as a PNW local, may I suggest Dutch Bros private reserve) and get ready for a big smile from the giftee.


7. Cable Saving Spirals

24 Pieces Charger Cable Saver, Silicone Flexible Cable Wire Protector, Mouse Cable Protector, Suit for All Cellphone Data Lines (Black, Pink, Blue, Green) Shop Now on Amazon

There’s nothing more frustrating than having a charging cable break when your phone is about to die.

These little silicone spirals prolong the life of charging cables by preventing them from bending at the wrong angle. Definitely a life saver for poor college students who can’t afford to be buying new charging cables every other week!


8. Easy Access Keychain Pepper Spray

college girl holding blue keychain pepper spray Shop Now on Amazon

It’s best to be prepared for the worst, even if they never need it.

College girls are sure appreciate a gift of keychain-ready pepper spray. It’s a small but powerful way to give her some peace of mind while she navigates life as young adult.


9. Convenient Lap Desk

college student using a practical lap desk for working on a laptop Shop Now on Amazon

While you can use a laptop almost anywhere, it’s not always comfortable to do so.

That’s where a lap desk comes in. It’s an ergonomic solution that students are sure to appreciate for Christmas.


10. Cordless Handheld Vacuum

example of a gift that's useful for college students Shop Now on Amazon

A small handheld vacuum is really nice to have when a small mess or spill happens!

They’re useful for cleaning the inside of a car, too. And chances are your student doesn’t have a regular-sized vacuum anyway.


11. Cute & Functional Laptop Backpack

pink laptop backpack useful college gift idea Shop Now on Amazon

Is your college kid’s backpack looking a little worse for wear?

A sturdy laptop bag is a welcome sight for weary shoulders.


12. Minimalist Bedside Shelf

Bedside Shelf for Bed – College Dorm Room Clip On Nightstand with Cup Holder & Cord Holder Shop Now on Amazon

When you’re living in the dorms, nightstands are but a myth. Which is why a convenient bedside shelf will get endless use from a college student.

They’ll finally have somewhere to set their stuff!


13. Essential Fix-it Kit

portable collection of handy tools Shop Now on Uncommon Goods

A small kit of essential tools is a must-have for college students. I think this review says it all –

[I] was looking for the perfect graduation gift – one that was small, useful and made a point. I know college gives students a lot of knowledge and tools for life, but one thing it (usually does not) – are the everyday tools, like a flashlight, a screwdriver and such and this item filled the bill – you should have seen their faces when they opened it up… Big grins and understanding that they would need these when family was no longer be on call to come right away to hang a picture or assemble furniture…”


14. Portable Blender for On-the-Go

2021 Hotsch Portable Blender, 13.5 Oz Personal Size Juicer Cup for Smoothies and Shakes, USB Rechargeable with Six Blades, for Sports Travel and Outdoors - Blue Shop Now on Amazon

Smoothie lovers will really like this next idea:

It’s a blender and travel bottle all in one – talk about convenient! It doesn’t take up much room and it’s easy to operate, making it perfect for busy students.


15. The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook

The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook: Your Guide for Everything from Hangovers to Homesickness - example of a useful present for college kid Shop Now on Amazon

College life and living with on your own can be a big transition-especially when you get sick for the first time!

A good book like The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook or The Greatest College Health Guide You Never Knew You Needed can help them with navigating everything from homesickness to hangovers.


16. Long-Lasting Reusable Water Bottle

32 oz Wide Mouth Hydro Flask in clementine color Shop Now on Hydro Flask

A reusable water bottle that’ll last through all four years of college and beyond is one of the most practical gifts you can give a student.

Hydro Flask water bottles are trendy not only for their large selection of colors, but also for their superior quality. These water bottles are powder coated, come with a lifetime warranty, and keep cold beverages cold for up to 24 hours (plus hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours).

It’s the kind of thing they’ll take with them, and love having, everyday!



Final thoughts on practical gifts for college students

There you have it. Those are the most useful Christmas gifts for college students that are cheap. You can be sure that these ideas are perfect for the college guy or girl in your life.

What’s the most helpful gift you’ve received?


Related college present ideas:


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Useful Gifts for College Students (That Are Cheap)Portable Blender for On-The-Go

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