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College life can come with a new set of challenges, from navigating a more challenging course load to living away from home for the first time. So when her birthday or a holiday comes around, it's important to celebrate with a gift that's both thoughtful and useful.
To help with your search, we researched the best gift options for every budget, considering her lifestyle and interests. Our favorite options include an affordable letter board for chic room decor, a trendy weekend bag from Beis, and refillable shower staples from Uni.
Here are the best gift ideas to give the college girl in your life.
Béis The Weekender
For trips back home and weekend getaways, this sleek tote will be the perfect travel companion. It measures 19 inches long (so it meets airline carry-on standards), but it will still fit all of her belongings inside. Founded by Shay Mitchell, Beis designed this tote with easy, organized access to all products in mind. The bottom compartment stores shoes or toiletries easily, and there's even a zipper pocket on the back to go over your luggage handle for easy handling.
MAINEVENT Felt Letter Board
This fun and functional felt letter board will let her express herself and communicate with friends. She can use it to post quotes, leave messages for roommates, or set the tone for game night. The frame comes in seven finishes to match any decor. It also comes with 374 numbers, letters, and symbols that can all be stored in a cotton drawstring bag, for a fun gift at a reasonable price.
Uni The Starter Kit
Uni provides environmentally-friendly body care systems that make getting clean and reducing waste simple. The Starter Kit features everything a college student needs for their shower routine, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a body serum, and hand wash—all with a reusable pump. When she finishes her products, simply order more and send back the empties with the prepaid shipping label. Uni recycles your bottles for you for a "closed-loop" system that benefits you and the environment.
Wellthy Wrap Around Ring
If she loves accessories but has a more minimalist style, Wellthy's simple yet luxe jewelry should do the trick. The brand has a slow fashion approach to design, and their jewelry is made from 100 percent recycled materials. They also offer insight on the carbon emissions of all of their products, so you can feel good about your purchase.
The Wrap Around ring is available in three metal different options (sterling silver, 14k yellow gold, and gold vermeil) and looks great alone or stacked with other pieces.
Rifle Paper Co.
Rifle Paper Co. offers an impressive selection of adorable art prints that would look beautiful in any dorm room. Help spruce up her decor with colorful flowers, inspiration quotes, or inspiring travel scenes. Pick a variety of all three for a stunning gallery wall, or frame a few to stand on a desk or dresser for a unique touch.
Lux & Nyx The Zoe Backpack
No, she's not in elementary school any longer, but a great backpack can still be useful in college. It's definitely pricey, but the backpack is a pretty chic one she'll have for years to come. The material is water-resistant, and there are an impressive 21 pockets and compartments. The backpack even has a removable pouch that can be worn as a clutch, crossbody, or wristlet.
Parachute Classic Bathrobe
After a long day, she'll certainly appreciate wrapping herself up in this 100 percent Turkish cotton robe from Parachute. The material is cozy yet breathable for year-round wear and is easily machine washable. The high collar and deep pockets add to the cozy vibe, and you can choose among four color options she favors most.
For the makeup lover that loves trying new products, opt for a beauty subscription from BirchBox. Every month, your college student receives new beauty samples and products delivered right to her door. She can customize her beauty profile so she only receives products suited for her hair, skin, and tastes. This way, she can test new products before splurging on full sizes, while the small sizes save space in her makeup stash.
Chic Geeks Python MacBook Case
This Chic Geeks case keeps her MacBook protected and stylish. The faux python cover has 360-degree protection with easy access to the necessary ports. We love that it easily snaps on and off whenever she's ready to remove it and clean her laptop. The cover is available for a range of MacBook sizes.
Uncommon Goods Collegiate Pouches
Celebrate her school spirit with a functional gift she can use everyday. Easily store cash, cards, a school ID, lip balm or other essentials in these adorable pouches made of 100 percent cotton. Each one features a woven design, representing their college or university, including logos, mascots, iconic buildings, and more.
Anker PowerCore 13000 Portable Battery
For the girl who constantly runs from activity to activity, this portable power bank is a must. It works to charge iPhones, iPads, and Samsung phones with max charge speed, courtesy of the PowerIQ and Voltage Boost. It's smaller than a wallet so she can throw it in her gym bag, purse, or backpack when her phone is running low. With two USB ports, she can even charge more than one device at a time.
Ninja Nutri Pro Compact Personal Blender
When she's in the mood for a healthy snack, the Ninja Nutri Pro blender can turn fruits and vegetables into a delicious smoothie in no time at all. With 900 watts of power, it can crush ice, seeds, skin, and stems without issue. The cup comes with a twist-on spout lid so it’s easy to take on the go, and all of the parts are dishwasher safe. It’s a great way to get a healthy dose of nutrients in one glass, and it works for more festive drinks (think, margaritas) as well.
Papier Personalized Leather Notebook
Help keep her busy schedule in order with a stylish and useful planner from Papier. These leather finishes look sleek and sophisticated, with plenty of playful and colorful designs to choose from. Add her initials for a personal touch, then customize the planner with different spreads to fit her daily, weekly, and monthly tasks and goals. Be sure to leave some extra pages for note-taking to double as a notebook for class.
The Sill Monthly Subscription
Being a plant parent is absolutely on trend, so help your college girl along the way with a monthly subscription with The Sill. The subscription is great for beginner plant parents and includes an easy-to-care-for plant and a beautiful ceramic pot. The plant selection switches up every month, so there's always something new. She can pause the subscription when needed and select the color of her planter to match her dorm decor.
Allbirds Women's Wool Pipers
Walk in comfort and style with Allbirds' Women's Wool Pipers. The minimalist sneakers pride themselves on being super comfortable for long walks around campus. Allbirds also uses renewable materials so you can feel good about your purchase. The best part? These sneakers are machine washable for inevitable stains. Choose from classic neutral colorways for a reliable shoe that matches any outfit and keeps you comfortable for hours on end.
S'well Stainless Steel Water Bottle
To make sure that she stays hydrated, gift her with a stylish and versatile water bottle. Made of double-walled stainless steel, this bottle keeps hot beverages hot for 12 hours and cold beverages cold for 24 hours. It holds plenty of liquid, so it will keep her hydrated during workouts or hotter spring days. The bottle comes in a variety of sleek and fashionable designs, so she can find the perfect match for her style.
Baggu Standard Baggu, Set of 3
Shy away from harmful plastic bags with this reusable set from Baggu. These bags come in tons of funky prints including flowers, poodles, and smiley faces, and they fit easily in your hand or over your shoulder. Carry up to 50 pounds of groceries, toiletries, or other goodies from the store and then, when not in use, fold your Baggu bags up into tiny squares for easy storage. While definitely a functional gift, the fun designs add enough interest to wear as a fashion item as well.
Knockaround Custom Blue Light Blockers
Sitting at a desk and glaring at the computer screen for hours on end can put a major strain on the eyes. Gift your student a pair of blue light glasses that she's sure to appreciate and wear daily.
These glasses aren't just functional, but also quite fashionable. The arms and lenses can be customized in a range of colors and prints to truly show off her individual sense of style.
Keurig K-Mini Plus Single Serve Coffee Maker
Save money and counter space with this mini single-serve coffee maker from Keurig. For college girls who need their fuel in the morning, this tiny Keurig doesn't take up too much room on a counter or desk and brews the perfect first cup of coffee to enjoy in bed or take on the go. She can choose from hundreds of different coffee pod flavors or opt for a reusable one to fill with her favorite ground coffee. With just a few simple buttons and a wide selection of cute colors, this pick is a no-brainer for coffee lovers.
Magnoloran LED Photo String Lights
A fun way to add some personal flair to a dorm room or apartment, this string of lights comes with 20 photo clips, each of which contains a white LED light that illuminates the pictures below. It runs on batteries (three AA batteries not included), which means she can place them anywhere she wants without having to worry about being near an outlet. They switch off and on with the click of a button, and there’s a flash mode to take things up a notch from time to time. This set measures 7.2 feet, but it’s also available in longer versions that contain even more clips if need be.
Dosmix Wireless Stereo Retro Speakers
These adorable retro speakers from Dosmix make a great gift for music-loving young adults. From parties and pregames to chill nights in, a great pair of Bluetooth speakers is a dorm staple. Elevate classic options with these unique vintage-style speakers that connect right to your smartphone for stress-free listening. They come in six trendy colors and make a great conversation-starter when displayed on a coffee table.
Gaiam Cork Yoga Mat
If she likes to get her “om” on, this yoga mat will help her find zen in style. Made with all-natural cork on one side and a lightweight rubber on the other, this is a mat that she can feel good about using. She can use it for yoga, pilates, stretching, and more. The cork provides excellent traction, and the rubber won’t slip around on the floor.
Roccbox Portable Wood and Gas Pizza Oven
For the foodie or student who has her own place with an amazing outdoor space, this portable pizza oven is probably the coolest gift she'll receive. It heats up to 950 degrees and can cook a pizza in just 60 seconds. It can also cook other food, including veggies, steak, and wings. Setup is easy, the silicone jacket is safe-touch, and it's available in three colors.
L.L.Bean Sweater Fleece Pullover
This fleece from L.L. Bean will keep her cozy when temperatures start to drop. Soft and comfortable, it’s great for throwing in a backpack to pull out whenever she wants to warm things up, whether she's on a hike or at a bonfire with friends. It's light enough to layer under a heavier jacket but light enough to wear on its own when she needs an extra layer. It comes in a wide variety of colors and sizes so she can find the best fit for her! This jacket has a devoted following of fans that say it’s well-made, versatile, and perfect for fall and winter weather.
PopSockets Collapsible Grip & Stand
If she’s never far from her phone, this PopSocket will be a great gift option. For such a simple-looking tool, it’s actually quite useful. She can attach it to the back of her phone, and when popped out, it offers a secure way to grip the phone while moving about or posing for selfies. Pop it out even more, and it works as a stand so she can watch video content hands-free. When not in use it folds down flat. And, of course, the rose gold diamond is the perfect accessory for any outfit.
What Do You Meme? For The Girls: The Ultimate Girls Night Party Game
Whether throwing a party, having a chill girls night in, or breaking the ice with new friends. What Do You Meme?'s For the Girls party game guarantees a good time. Designed for ages 17 and up, For the Girls features a dice and cards that help players earn points by answering questions or performing tasks. The cards include sleepover classics like truth or dare cards or "If you've ever" prompts. Compete to earn the most points, or simply take turns answering the questions for hours of fun.
LUCID 3-inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Gifts that make her dorm room more homey and comfortable are always a good idea. Dorm beds are not known to be the most comfortable, so consider gifting a mattress topper, so she feels awake and refreshed each morning. This affordable pick from LUCID boasts supportive memory foam with ventilation holes to stay cool during the night. Our tester loved the firm surface that added the perfect amount of support to any mattress.
BRONAX Cloud Slippers
A comfy pair of slippers or slides is an essential for dorm room life. For those with communal bathrooms, these BRONAX Cloud Slippers are the perfect shoes to throw on for showering or walking around the hall. They also double as cozy slippers for the wintertime, doing chores, or lounging around. Best of all, they come in 11 cool colors at an affordable price.
BedShelfie The Original Bedside Shelf for Bed
Maximize her space with a BedShelfie, a tray table that connects right to her bed. When sleeping or studying, she can store her phone, water bottle, headphones, or glasses right within reach. There are different sizes and shapes to choose from to fit her bed and room aesthetic. The tray even comes with a cup holder for maximum convenience and space-saving.
What to Look for in Gifts for College Girls
Relevance to Her Lifestyle
Considering her lifestyle may be the most important factor when finding the right gift. This includes where she goes to school, where she works and lives, and how she gets around. If she lives in a dorm, stay away from large furniture pieces or items that may be prohibited in school buildings like candles or microwaves. Those who commute to school or go to work everyday may need a new outfit or bag. Finding a functional gift that she can incorporate into her routine ensures she will use it everyday.
When buying a useful present, don't forget to consider her interests. Whether she likes taking care of plants, crafting, going to the gym, or writing, gifts that align with these hobbies help her take time for herself outside of school. Gift ideas can include a new skateboard, a paint-by-numbers set, or a new baking pan.
There are perfect gift options for every budget, so you can be guaranteed to find something she likes. If you have a limited budget, opt for a DIY piece of dorm decor or wall art. Plant and flowers come in a wide range of prices and add a lively touch to any space. A home-cooked meal or dessert always pleases college students, too. If you can't spend any money at all, consider visiting for a weekend of fun. Remember that the best gifts are thoughtful and personal, no matter the price.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This roundup was written by Julia Fields, a lifestyle writer for The Spruce covering all things surrounding toys, gifts, and the holidays. She's also covered similar topics in other roles, including toy reviews, product round-ups, craft articles, and more. She used her own experience and insights and researched popular, quality brands for a range of fun, useful gifts for college girls.