Holiday Gift Guide: Buying For HS & College Students

December 3, 2010 3:58 PM

The high school and college students on your holiday shopping list may want plenty, but what’s worth your money?

gift Holiday Gift Guide: Buying For HS & College Students

File image (credit: AP)

They can be some of the trickiest present purchases. The high school and college students on your holiday shopping list may want plenty, but what’s worth your money? What will they appreciate, and actually use?

Here’s a list of some items that top many students’ wish lists, straight from the source. – Yoojin Cho

Under $50

Laptop Cases

Students rely on their computers to complete most of their assignments for school. In their rooms or at libraries, wherever students go to study, their personal computers follow. So if they don’t have one already, or are due for an upgrade, why not give them a laptop sleeve or a carrying case to protect their most important gadget? Brands like Belkin, Incase, Kensington and Case Logic offer cases or padded sleeves for $20 to $40.

Gift Cards – Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks

Especially for college students, caffeine plays a huge role during midterm and finals time. If your student still lives in a dorm and does not have a coffee maker, chances are they’re sick of the dining hall coffee. Reward him or her with a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.

French Press Coffee Maker

On the other hand… rather than having your student develop an expensive habit of stopping by the coffee shop each morning, teach them how to make their own coffee at home. French press coffee makers don’t require electricity, and its small size is perfect for a small dorm room.

Gift Cards – Apple

Besides buying music on iTunes, students with an iPhone or iPod Touch can use the gift card to buy their favorite apps. Ranging from addicting games like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja to useful apps like MBTA Tracking App or Pocket Informant (an organizer, planner), new apps come out every day.

Daily Deals / Groupon / Living Social, etc.

Subscribe to e-mail alerts from popular daily deals websites, such as Groupon, Living Social and CBS Boston Daily Deals. When you receive an e-mail for a coupon to your teen’s favorite restaurant, click buy. These sites allow you to purchase coupons to popular restaurants in the area, gym memberships, haircuts and more.


Strange but true, particularly for students living in dorms. While students can’t avoid doing laundry, one of the biggest obstacles to completing the chore is funding. Since most laundromats or on-campus laundry facilities only take quarters, if you plan on adding some cash to your student’s holiday present, give a few rolls of quarters.


Noise-Cancelling Headphones

You can find noise-cancelling headphones for cheaper than this, or for a lot more money, but most fall into this price range. Look at Panasonic, Sony or Sennheiser for different options.

Lightweight Luggage

Getting ready for summer camps or study abroad programs, many students will undoubtedly need a durable suitcase sooner or later. Not only do lightweight bags carry more clothes, shoes or toiletries, but also with strict weight limits on flights, it’s one of the best ways to avoid airlines’ overweight fees. Find lightweight luggage on or Amazon.

Comfortable Desk Chairs / Bean Bag Chairs

Make studying a bit more comfortable. Good desk chairs don’t cause back pains after hours of studying, and bean bag chairs create a cozy reading spot.


E-Readers – Amazon Kindle, Nook, Kobo

Much like when MP3 players first came out, major draws for e-readers are portability and the low price of e-books. Especially since many textbook companies now publish required readings in e-book format, students can save money and carry multiple books all at once without adding weight to their backpacks.

GPS – Garmin or TomTom

Tired of telling your teen how to get everywhere? Invest in a GPS system for turn-by-turn directions. Also perfect for the student with a car on campus, or the commuter student.

Turntables / Record Players

Turntables are certainly making a come back. If your student loves music, help them stand out among friends by giving them a record player this holiday season. Vinyl has fuller sound than CD’s or MP3 files, so listening to music on record players will make them appreciate their favorite music even more.

$150 or more

Apple iPad

This newest gadget by Apple definitely takes the crown for most-wanted gift. While its price tag of $499+ can deter parents from buying one for students, iPad can become their all-in-one device for taking notes, playing music, games, movies, reading, browsing websites and more.

Flip Cameras

Anyone who likes to document fun events or memorable moments will find these High-Definition digital recording devices extremely useful. Using the idea of simple point-and-shoot technology, Flips only have recording, zoom in and out and power buttons. It can capture up to 2 hours of footage, and upload process is simple as well.

Yoojin Cho is a Boston University student who spent two semesters working with the CBS Boston Digital Media team.