Great Gifts for College Kids & Young Adults

mother giving daughter gift
  • 01 of 18

    Nine Cool Stocking Stuffers for Teens & College Kids

    From Chocolate-Bacon Bars to Einstein Magnets. Courtesy Unemployed Philosophers Guild

    Holiday, Birthday and Graduation Gift Guides for Teens & Young Adults

    If you have a sci-fi fan, movie buff, new college student or 20-something on your gift giving list, this collection of gift ideas should help. Browse through the galleries below for gift ideas based on age, occasion and special interest - yes, even zombies, but also book lovers and pop culture addicts.

    Nine Great  Stocking Stuffers for Teens

    Wondering what to tuck in that stocking? How about a Dress-Your-Own-Einstein magnet...MORE set for the dorm fridge door? Nerd-chic is a thing, and no one did it better than Albert, the icon of smart cool.

    For more stocking stuffer ideas - including chocolate-bacon bars, philosopher finger puppets and a new twist on the sticky notes theme - check out our guide to Great Stocking Stuffers for Teens, as well as tips on Packing the Perfect Care Package.

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  • 02 of 18

    Great Gifts Under $50 for College Kids & 20-Somethings

    Beanies, Tailgate Picnic Baskets, DIY Macchiatos and More Beanie. UCSB

    Beanies that show school spirit top our list of "10 Great Gift Ideas Under $50 for Teens & College Kids"

    Looking for a not-too-expensive gift for your favorite teen or college kid? Beanies are on the heads of young adults everywhere! You can order a beanie sporting their college logo online, or opt for one of these other gift ideas:

    • DIY macchiato set 
    • tailgate essentials
    • Fujifilm Instamax Mini 9
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  • 03 of 18

    Gift Ideas for Your Son or Daughter's Sweetheart

    More Than 15 Great Picks Anthony Bourdain's clever graphic novel - "Get Jiro!" (Vertigo Comics, 2012) is set in a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, ruled by warlord chefs riled up over the appearance of an unusual sushi chef. Courtesy Vertigo

    Your young adult has a significant other - and you have someone new to buy gifts for. What can you possibly buy for such an important person in your child's life? These 15 gifts will make anyone smile, and your child will be thrilled that you took the time to pick out something unique and special.

    Shopping for your college kid or young adult's beau can be truly daunting. Here are 15+ ideas for wonderful gifts including:

    • Backgammon boards
    • Blue Bottle coffee,
    • A little touch of cashmere 
    • A...MORE hilariously quirky book about a katana-wielding sushi chef

    Pair the latter with a gift certificate to the couple's favorite sushi place and you'll delight them both.

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  • 04 of 18

    Gifts for Science Buffs and Sci-Fan Fans

    9 Fabulous Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Geek This steampunk-inspired poster, designed by Florida graphic artist Megan Lee Welch, gives physicist Niels Bohr the rock star treatment. Courtesy of Megan Lee Welch

    Got a lovable college student or young adult geek in your life? 

    Between smart phones, iPads and the BBC's cult fave, "Dr. Who," the last decade has made geekdom a symbol of coolness.

    Here are some great gift ideas for the sci-fi fan or math whiz on your gift list, including:

    • Rock star scientist posters
    • Tardis memorabilia,
    • Tterrific novels - "Red Shirts," anyone?
    • Geeky gadgets.
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  • 05 of 18

    Great Gifts: Books for College Kids & 20-Somethings

    Aliens, Supermodels, Paparazzi and More. Bloomsbury

    College kids and young adults spend so much time reading textbooks, leisure reading needs to be exceptionally compelling to hold their attention.

    There's nothing like a few alien invasions, post-apocalyptic cities and a supermodel or two two to provide a little escapist fare - and a perfect gift for your favorite college kid or young adult. Take "The Bone Season," for example, the hot first book by recent Oxford grad Samantha Shannon, who signed a seven-book deal with Bloomsbury, the...MORE Harry Potter publisher. It's a tale of clairvoyants on the run in futuristic London, and the netherworld battle that's in their path.

    For more literary gift ideas - including tales of epic battles, betrayals and love - check out this list of great books for the college and older set. You may find some books you'll enjoy as well. 

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  • 06 of 18

    Great Gifts for College Kids & Young Adults ($50-$500)

    Cooking Lessons, Bluetooth & More. Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    Unleash your young adult's inner Top Chef. Dabble in Louisiana's vampire haven.

    Check out these and other cool things on this "Great Gifts for Young Adults" list.

    Whether it's learning to make Vietnamese pho or an organic ingredients only primer, there’s a cool cooking class out there for everyone, from wannabe chef to culinary master. Get a cooking class gift certificate for you and your college kid or young adult. It will be a fun activity for you to do together - and a good...MORE meal to share as well.

    For more gift ideas in the $50-and-up price range - from a DVD set of HBO's "True Blood" series to a portable GPS - check out this Great Gift Ideas for College Kids & 20-Somethings list.

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  • 07 of 18

    Gifts for Harry Potter Fans

    6 Great Gifts for the Hogwarts Crowd. Courtesy of Melissa Anelli

    Every Hogwarts fan has J.K. Rowling's books, but here are 7 other gift ideas for Harry Potter Fans:

    • Collegiate Quidditch brooms
    • Theme park tickets
    • Read about Harry Potter's internet-fueled rise to stardom in "Harry, a History," by Leaky Cauldron web mistress Melissa Anelli. 
    • Check out the other ideas on this guide to Gifts for Harry Potter Fans.
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  • 08 of 18

    Gifts for the True Blood and Twilight Crowds

    Shirts, Drinks, Books & More. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Great Gifts for Vampire Fans

    Whether your favorite college kid or young adult favors the world of Forks or Bon Temps, there's a great idea for him or her on this list.

    Between the popular HBO's vamp series and its spin-offs and the Stephenie Meyer universe, this is a good time to love fictional vampires. Add in all the other cool items on the Gift Guide for Vampire Fans list - Merlotte's shirts, anyone? - and it's enough to make any vampire fan show a toothy grin with delight.

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  • 09 of 18

    Great Blu-Rays for College Kids & 20Somethings

    From the Evil Witch to Mr. Spock, Tyrion Lannister and Mindy Lahiri, MD. Courtesy Universal Studios

    Got a movie or comedy fan? Here's a sneak peek at our guide to Blu-Rays and DVD Gifts for College Kids and Young Adults.

    A rom-com loving ob-gyn with a hilariously awkward personal life? That could only be "The Mindy Project," Mindy Kaling's uber-popular TV show, a great gift for anyone who enjoys comedy. This list of great Blu-Rays for college kids & young adults, including zombie flicks,  sexy vampire sagas, grown-up fairy tales and the adventures of a certain pair of fuzzy...MORE college-going monsters. Cuddle up for a rainy day of great binge watching!

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  • 10 of 18

    Great Board Games

    board game
    10 Great Games for Teens, College Kids & 20-Somethings Quelf board game. Courtesy Imagination Entertainment

    These great board games are guaranteed to please young adults and wow the dorm crowd.

    • Apples to Apples
    • Quelf
    • Loaded Questions
    • Tiki Tobble

    Our grandparents may have loved Parcheesi, but today's teens and young adults prefer the unpredictable zaniness of games like these.  Check out the rest of the picks on our 10 Great Board Games list.

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  • 11 of 18

    Gifts for Zombie Fans

    From World War Z to Zombieland, Something for Every Undead Fan. Courtesy Paramount

    Got a zombie fan? Here's a selection of our guide to gifts for fans of the undead.

    Zombie devotees loved the tongue-in cheek book penned by Saturday Night Live writer - and Mel Brooks' son - Max Brooks. His tale of "World War Z" has been adapted for the silver screen. The book told the "true" story of the great zombie apocalypse in a series of first-person accounts by a Chinese doctor, smugglers, spies and soldiers battling the great undead threat. The movie stars Brad...MORE Pitt as a United Nations official chasing the plague around the world. And these zombies don't shamble. They run. Fast.

    Other zombie lover gift ideas include:

    • Simon Pegg's cult classic (best watched while eating a British Cornetto ice cream treat)
    • An undead board game 
    • Zombie army figurines 
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  • 12 of 18

    11 Great College Graduation Gifts

    Great gifts to go with that new college diploma. Jane Cleary, Stock.Xchng Photos

    College graduations are huge achievements. Here's a sneak peek at our guide to 11 Great College Graduation Gifts to help mark the day.

    Between the dorm gear and Amazon gift cards, high school graduation gifts are relatively easy. But what do you get a  21st century college grad? Many new grads do the backpacking/hostel thing across Asia or visit friends they met during study abroad in Europe. If your grad has travel plans, how about: 

    • A gift certificate to a travel accessories or backpacking...MORE store
    • Guide books to the countries he plans to visit 
    • A Kindle, which can carry those guidebooks as well novels and other reading material

    For more college graduation gift ideas - including a DIY graduation video, first apartment gifts and art possibilities - check out our guide to Great College Graduation Gifts.

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  • 13 of 18

    Great High School Graduation Gifts

    From Memory Boards to Campus Gear. Courtesy Sourcebooks

    High school graduation is a special time. Here's a sneak peek at our guide to Great High School Graduation Gifts.

    Syndicated columnist Harlan Cohen's practical, irreverent take on college life has entertained and helped parents and kids across the country. Now, you can get his wit and wisdom in book form, The Naked Roommate... And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.

    • It includes tips on dealing with:
    • Unclothed dorm buddies
    • Advice on college dating
    • Cash
    • Classes
    • Time management

    Add a...MORE generous gift of cash or a gift card and you're all set.

    For more high school graduation gift ideas - including dorm gear, campus togs and Randy Pausch's inspirational last lecture - check out our guide to 8 Great High School Graduation Gifts.

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  • 14 of 18

    21st Birthday Gifts

    Champagne, Espresso & More. Photo courtesy of Craig Toron, Stock.Xchng Photos

    Landmark birthday coming up? Here's a sneak peek at our 21st birthday gift list:

    Traditionally, 21st birthdays are saluted with a bottle of equally old wine. But most young adults have not yet developed the palate for Port, Sauternes and the kinds of high end red wines that age well over two decades. But a bottle of fine champagne – a Veuve Cliquot, for example, or Perrier-Jouet – is a very special, always-appropriate gift. For 21st birthdays, some people get a kick out of wrapping the bottle...MORE in a white linen napkin or cloth diaper, and fastening it with a large diaper pin. (Using disposable Pampers doesn’t have quite the same aesthetic effect, but it gets a laugh too.) Cost: $45-$200.

    For more 21st birthday ideas, check out our guide to 21st birthday parties and our 21st Birthday Gift Ideas list.

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  • 15 of 18

    Handmade Gifts for College Kids

    Easy Dorm Crafts & Gift Ideas for Teens & 20somethings. Photo by Jackie Burrell

    Handmade gifts and crafts are really hot right now - everyone loves anything made from scratch, with lots of love included. 

    Our list of handmade gifts includes:


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  • 16 of 18

    Gifts for Grad Students

    Gift ideas to please med students, legal eagles-to-be and future Ph.Ds. Courtesy Roll and Tumble Press

    Whether you've got a medical student, a future lawyet or an English professor in the making, these gift ideas are tailor made for the graduate student in your life.

    A letterpress "You are Here" poster makes a charming addition to any med student's apartment walls, but there are ideas for every other discipline too, from legal board games to laptop sleeves, coffee presses and more.

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  • 17 of 18

    Clever Ways to Give Cash

    The ultimate one-size-fits-all gift gets a makeover. Marc Garrido i Puig/Stock.Xchng Photos

    You can never go wrong with a cash gift for students, young adults - or just about anyone.. You can always stuff a few twenties in an envelope, but here are a few more creative ways to present money.

    It's a little unimaginative to just hand someone a wad of money, but make a cash gift too clever and it risks getting lost in the wrapping.

    How about painting you own piggy bank? 

    • A "Wall Street Bound" pig in a suit and tie for your new MBA student
    • A curly wigged judge for your legal eagle
    • A...MORE paint-spattered porker for a budding artist

    Or try one of these other ideas on for size.

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  • 18 of 18

    Great Books for College Kids & 20somethings

    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
    Novels, Non-fiction & Advice Books for Young Adults. Courtesy Broadway

    Textbooks are all well and good, but if you're looking for a great read for your college kid or young adult, check out these lists:

    • Great reads: Dragons, thrones, comic memoirs and an Indiana Jones-ish trek into the Amazon? There's something for everyone on this Great Books for Teens & 20-Somethings gift list. And parents will probably end up putting some on their wish lists too!
    • Summer college reading lists: From a teenager's epic illegal journey to the poor tobacco farm worker...MORE whose cells - taken without permission - led to a cure for polio, the most popular books on college summer reading lists are great reads too.  "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," "Enrique's Journey" are just two of the  fantastic books on this list list suggestions.
    • College advice books: Naked roommates, apps, essay tips and freshman year survival - you'll find those suggestions in this passel of great college advice books.
    • Zombies, vampires and wizards: Looking for book - and video and board game - gift suggestions for that zombie-lover? A few non-Twilight vampire ideas? Or something to read in a post-Harry Potter world? (Besides books 1-7 again, I mean.)



    Updated by Sharon Greenthal