2021 Best Gifts for College Students (Especially Those that “Have Everything”)

Happy Thanksgiving week! Ready to shop for your favorite college student, but no clue what to get? I’ve got you covered! Here’s my 2021 list of the gifts that I order and recommend to promote HEALTH and HAPPINESS in your college student. (Please note that I have no financial ties to anything other than The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook.) 

For Stress Reduction: 

  • Weighted Blanket– These can be pricey, but for anyone dealing with anxiety and/or insomnia, they are worth their WEIGHT in gold. What weight? 15-20 lbs. (Bigger adult, heavier blanket. 15 lbs is plenty if your student is petite.) Look for blankets with stitching throughout that keep the weight evenly distributed, such as this one.
  • Shower Steamers– Most students don’t have bath tubs, but they all have showers! It’s amazing how relaxing it can be to take a shower with one of these scented “steamers”! PERFECT for finals week! I like this brand and this one.
  • Screen-free Board or Card Games– I love gifting the traditional games flavored by the student’s university, or perhaps their favorite tv series or movie theme. College-themed Monopoly, Harry Potter-themed Code Names, Trivial Pursuit Friends Edition, What Do You Mean Office Edition , Meme the Game Disney Version, etc!
  • Stressed from Sleeping Through Morning Alarms? For real, this is a BIG issue for some students, especially when they are worried about their extra loud alarm waking their roommate. After a lot of trial and error, we found this alarm that has a vibrating “shaker” that you place on the bed, plus a cool projection of the time on to the ceiling.
  • Light Therapy Box– Does your student lose energy or focus when the sun sets? Definitely more of an issue the further north you live, but if shorter days and less sunshine make you feel more sluggish or depressed (possibly causing Seasonal Affective Disorder), consider a small light box to brighten your mood. I’ve been impressed with Verilux

For Aching Necks/Shoulders/Backs:

  • Quick Fix:
    • Neck Wraps that can be heated in the microwave or chilled in a freezer, like this one or this one.
    • Single use menthol patches work great too & make nice stocking stuffers!
  • The REAL Answer:
    • Laptop Stand and Wireless Keyboard/Mouse- Help prevent all the sore backs and necks from extended zoom classes. There is NO WAY for your posture to be ergonomically correct using a laptop by itself, but raising the screen and keeping your arms lower will do the trick. I love mine- this one – and be sure to pair with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

For Oral Health:

  • Electric Toothbrush– Don’t laugh! Especially during the pandemic, when MOST of us have skipped routine dental cleanings and visits, investing in an electric toothbrush can GREATLY improve oral health. Consider a Sonic toothbrush like THIS and don’t forget replacement heads (you should swap out the heads monthly.) This is all about oral health, but students will also love their whiter teeth.

For Nutrition:

  • Restaurant Gift Cards– They’ll love something beyond pizza delivery! I especially like supporting local businesses, so google “best restaurants near X University” and bet you’ll find fun local restaurants who are delighted to sell you online gift cards! My local Austin favorite:  #KeepAustinWeird Taco Shack Gift Cards
  • UBER EATS, Door Dash, Grub Hub, etc. gift cards-allow the recipient to order from any restaurant and have it delivered to their door. Especially great for students without cars!
  • Meal Service Gift Card- IF your student lives in an apartment, house or anywhere with a full kitchen, AND they enjoy cooking, they might enjoy a service like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron -both of which are having big sales this week! This is a fabulous way to kick off 2022 with healthy, quick meals while learning new cooking skills, even if only used for a week- there is no obligation to continue the service. Note that these services are more time-intensive than you might expect.

For Transportation: I don’t know a single young adult who wouldn’t appreciate this gift! Not only keeps them safe from intoxicated driving, but saves parking fees and hassles, especially in bigger cities.

For Exercise/Fitness: 

  • Winter Beanie Hat with Wireless Headphones-Perfect to encourage outdoor walks, jogs, or snow sports because you can listen to your favorite music or podcasts as you exercise! I like this one.
  • New Shoes/Workout Clothes (or Gift Card to fav fitness store)- Who isn’t motivated to get moving when they have new workout clothes, right? I love these inexpensive, quality leggings with pockets, for example. Quality running shoes are EXPENSIVE, but…I always say new shoes are less expensive than physical therapy to fix sore feet/ankles/knees/hips. Most students wear shoes WAY beyond their intended lifespan. See this sole-searching post for more, but if you look at the bottom of your shoe and the tread has worn smooth, it’s time for new shoes.
  • Socks– Stop worrying about doctors seeing your kid’s underwear…its the thread-bare socks we see more! College students (and community laundry facilities) are notoriously hard on socks, so restock them with a fresh set! I especially love inspirational message socks like these or these fun collegiate socks.

For Illness & Injury: 

Bottom Line: Wishing all our college kids and their families happy holidays, and a happier, healthier 2022!


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