10 Inspired Gift Ideas for your College-Age Kid

It’s December 6th, do you know what you’re getting your college-age kid this Christmas? It’s always a struggle to come up with ideas, but even more so when they live away from home. We used to know these kids inside-and-out when they resided under our roof, but now they have lives of their own and, let’s face it, we don’t really know what they’re up to or what they’re into.

Well, I did a little research and polled my college-age kid to come up with some suggestions to help get you started this holiday season.

Noise-cancelling wireless headphones

Headphones are just a way of life in college. Whether you want to drown out distracting dorm noise, listen to some background “study” music or binge watch “Game of Thrones,” a good set of headphones is a necessity…and earbuds just don’t cut it. There are tons of different styles of over-ear headphones and each offers different attributes, so it really boils down to personal preference and how the headphones will be used. I can’t pick the perfect pair for your kid — maybe you can’t either — but I can tell you that I recently did a lot of research, read a lot of reviews, and ultimately selected the Plantronics BackBeat Pro  based on their relatively reasonable price point ($155) and across-the-board excellent reviews. They offer wireless Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in mic for interrupting phone calls (likely from you) and noise cancelling capability at the flip of a switch. I got these for my husband for his birthday, and he loves the quality of the sound and raves about the comfort. I give these high marks for value for the money. Plantronics BackBeat Pro Wireless Headphones

But, alas, we know kids, and we know how much brand names can matter sometimes. So if your kid has his or her heart set on a pair of Dr. Dre Beats, they’re always a safe bet, as well. Beats range from $200-350 on Amazon.

Chromecast v. Amazon Fire Stick

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely familiar with Chromecast and it’s rival the Amazon Fire Stick. Both are streaming devices which plug into the HDMI port of a TV to allow you to stream anything — TV shows, movies, music, sports, games — from your phone directly to the bigger screen. As you can imagine, kids like that idea…A LOT! They all have Netflix or Amazon Prime or some other content provider, but they get tired of staring at their phone, laptop or tablet. And sometimes, just sometimes, they actually like to watch a show with someone else! Both Chromecast and the Amazon Fire Stick are good products, but I’m partial to Chromecast because we have it at home and use it regularly. It’s easy to set up and easy to navigate.  Chromecast



screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-02-04-pmEvery college kid needs a high-powered blender …to make fruit smoothies and protein shakes, of course! What were you thinking? Smoothies are essential energy food for weary college students, so make sure yours it set up with the best gear. There are many different varieties with a myriad of price points, so I’ll let you choose the one that best suits your kid and your wallet. But Hamilton Beach makes a pretty snazzy red blender with a puree setting for smoothies and icy drinks (wink, wink) and a chop setting for salsas. Perfect! $40 at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Hamilton Beach blender

Insulated tumbler with college logo

Once your kid has a blender full of “smoothies,” he or she will need the appropriate glassware to keep them icy cold. Tervis has emblazoned their insulated tumblers with every imaginable college logo. They come in different sizes and some sport a handy lid to prevent spillage. And they really do keep drinks cold for hours! Prices range from $13-$30.  Tervis insulated tumblers – collegiate collection

Magazine subscription

What student doesn’t love to find a little something in his or her mailbox. Magazine subscriptions are the gift that keep on giving! And they’re a nice, little reminder that someone at home is thinking of you. Whether it’s a weekly Sports Illustrated or a monthly issue of Rachel Ray, your kid will just be happy to have something other than tumbleweeds in their mailbox. I’m getting my daughter Cooking Light because she’s in an apartment this year and is experimenting with cooking. I guess the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Cord Taco

Need a stocking stuffer? These nifty little leather “tacos” keep headphone cords and charging cables tamed and ready to roll. No more frustrating tangles and knots to contend with. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, including ones with images of David Bowie, Bill Murray and Seth Rogan, for just $10-12 from LA-based thisisground.com.


Collapsible/refillable water bottle

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-33-41-pmKids these days take water bottles wherever they go, and now most schools have filtered water stations just waiting for thirsty kids to fill’em up. And while Camelbaks and Yetis are great, lugging around a metal bottle can be unwieldy, not to mention expensive. So I like this foldable, reusable version. It’s lightweight, it stands upright when in use, but can be rolled, folded or flattened when empty to fit in a pocket or purse and also features an attached carabiner to clip to a backpack. These also make perfect traveling companions because they can be stowed in a carry-on until after your student passes through security, then filled up before boarding the plane. No more $4 bottles of water at the airport!  The Vapur Collapsible, reusable water bottle sells for $7-16 on Amazon.

White noise machine

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-5-33-56-pmDorms are loud. Sleep is precious. That’s where the Denee Sleep Machine comes into play. With 10 sounds to choose from — including white noise, brown noise, rain, brook, thunder and ocean — and an automatic timer for 15-, 30-, 60- or 90-minute intervals, your sleepy student will be nodding off in no time despite the mayhem going on in the hallway. It comes in two colors, white or black, and sells for about $38 on Amazon.  Denee Sleep Machine

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-6-38-00-pmRebecca Minkoff Tassle Charger

Does your kid need a little re-charge? Well, this handy accessory will do the trick anywhere, any time. It clips onto anything, so it’s always at the ready to charge up a fading phone. Just pop into the nearest Starbucks, grab a cuppa and charge (the phone, not the credit card)! $50 at rebeccaminkoff.com.

And, for the guys, there are a variety of less-frilly versions available at amazon.com, like the tiny 6″ iKits Lightening Cable which fits conveniently into the cord taco (see above). Simply grab the taco, run for the boarder and he’s ready to charge through he rest of his day.

And last, but definitely not least…

Cards Against Humanity

You think your kid is too cool for card games? Think again. This is NOT your parents card game! Dubbed “the party game for horrible people,” this raunchy card game provides hours of entertainment and raucous laughter that nobody can deny. LOL fun, literally! The starter box comes with over 500 cards, but if that’s not enough, there are various expansion packs that can keep the party going until the wee hours. $20 from Amazon. Cards Against Humanity


With these ideas in your back pocket, you’ll be the BMOC, the coolest parent on the planet, and just plain old not an embarrassment to society. So, get on the internet and start cyber shopping!! Your kid will thank you…and me.

And if you don’t find inspiration here, check out Buzzfeed’s “33 Awesome Gifts Any College Student Will Totally Love” for some fun, funny and kitschy gift ideas that you’ve likely never thought of!



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