50 Cheap Gifts College Students Will Love

Looking for a gift for the student in your life that won't break the bank? Check out our guide of inexpensive present ideas.

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by Staff Writers

Published December 10, 2021

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50 Cheap Gifts College Students Will Love

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The right gift can make the student in your life feel much more at home while they're away at college. However, depending on your own expenses, it can sometimes be tough to find a gift that fits within your budget.

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For that reason, we created this list of gifts for college students that won't break the bank. Each item on this list is useful or fun, as well as affordable.

Broken into two sections — gifts under $30 and gifts under $20 — this thorough list of gift ideas should help you find something worthwhile for even the most picky students in your life.

Price Legend

$ = Under $10 | $$ = $10-$20 | $$$ = $21-$30

Gifts Under $30


Our Recommendation: Smartwool Merino Wool Liner Gloves

Especially useful for college students in colder climates, these gloves keep hands warm. The gloves' lightweight knit allows for easy movement, and the touchscreen-compatible thumb and index finger prevent the need to remove gloves for phone use.

Cell Phone Armband Case

Our Recommendation: Tune Belt AB91, Cell Phone Armband Holder Case

For fitness-minded students, this armband fits a variety of cell phone brands and sizes. The armband offers exceptional comfort and fits both men and women. Water-resistant and made with moisture-wicking fabric, the case prevents cord tangles when users are working out.

Foam Roller

Our Recommendation: AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller

This high-density foam roller is useful for massage, exercise, and muscle recovery. Offered in a variety of colors, the roller supports balance, strengthening, and flexibility exercises. It's also lightweight and easy to clean.

Sunrise Alarm Clock

Our Recommendation: AMIR Wake-Up Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock

Sunrise alarm clocks, which gradually add more light to the bedroom, are less jarring than traditional alarm clocks. According to the manufacturer, they may boost some cognitive functions and can improve heart health. This AMIR model features three brightness levels and eight natural sounds for a peaceful dorm room wakeup.

Bar Set

Our Recommendation: Cresimo Cocktail Shaker Bar Set

Designed for the cocktail aficionado, this shaker and bar set includes a 24-ounce stainless steel shaker, strainer, jigger, and bar spoon. The high-quality, mirrored stainless steel is guaranteed not to rust or leak. The set also includes an illustrated cocktail recipe guide and a two-year warranty.

Outdoor Blanket

Our Recommendation: BEARZ Outdoor Beach Blanket

This blanket can be used during many outdoor activities. Whether on the beach for spring break or at an outdoor music festival, this waterproof and sandproof blanket is compact, lightweight, and durable. The blanket comes in several colors and is also puncture resistant.

Yoga Mat

Our Recommendation: Gaiam Yoga Mat

This lightweight and thick yoga mat provides great cushioning and comes in almost 30 patterns. Made with a nonslip texture, the mat provides superior grip and is a great gift for both beginners and avid practitioners. In addition to the mat, every purchase includes a free downloadable yoga workout.


Our Recommendation: KALIYADA Polarized Sunglasses

Eye protection is important, but why not look amazing while staying safe? These fashionable glasses come in packs of two and boast top-rated polarized lenses. Great for driving, water activities, and general use, these glasses provide style and comfort. Each purchase comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Grater Set

Our Recommendation: OXO Good Grips Mini Complete Grate and Slice Set

A grate gift for learners interested in cooking, this compact set of kitchen tools is a useful addition for the student cook. Each set includes a slicer, coarse grater, and medium grater in one convenient package. The tools are easy to use and dishwasher safe.

Micro SD Card

Our Recommendation: SanDisk 128GB Extreme microSDXC Memory Card

This SD card can transfer data up to 90MB per second and offers 128GB of storage capacity. Shockproof, temperature-proof, and waterproof, this memory card comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.


Our Recommendation: Yinhua Mountain Landscape Tapestry

A mainstay in college decorating, tapestries offer an easy way to make dorm room walls more welcoming. Made from high-quality polyester fabric, this tapestry is handmade, features vibrant colors, and will not fade over time. Degree-seekers can also use it as a bedspread, curtain, or tablecloth.

Food Storage Set

Our Recommendation: Rubbermaid Storage Containers

This eight-piece food storage set gives the student in your life space to store essentials like ramen noodles, soups, and Instant Pot meals. The clear, lightweight plastic resists stains and is airtight and leak-proof. Students can stack these containers within each other to save valuable space in their dorm rooms.

Home Workout Set

Our Recommendation: TOMSHOO 5-in-1 Home Workout Kit

This home workout kit includes an adjustable jump rope, push-up bar, and ab roller. Minor assembly is required for this gym-grade equipment that's suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. This kit can be used almost anywhere and is easily transportable.


Our Recommendation: Simple Modern Classic Insulated Tumbler

A simple but useful gift, this tumbler is vacuum-insulated and keeps beverages hot or cold for hours. Offered in a variety of designs, colors, and patterns, this tumbler comes with two lids: an internally threaded straw lid and an insulated flip lid. It fits in most cup holders.


Our Recommendation: Spalding NBA Street Phantom Official Outdoor Basketball

Designed for outdoor play, this Spalding basketball is an ideal gift for students who love to hoop. The ball is the official NBA weight and size and is shipped fully inflated. Offered with a variety of accent colors, it's made of high-performance, durable rubber.

Wine Glasses

Our Recommendation: JBHome Italian-Style Crystal Burgundy Wine Glasses

A thoughtful gift for the wine connoisseur, these premium crystal glasses are hand-blown and come in sets of two. Carefully and durably crafted, they come with a one-year satisfaction guarantee.

Makeup Brush Set

Our Recommendation: TEXAMO Professional Makeup Brush Set

This 15-piece makeup set includes the right tool for nearly any product and occasion. Their dense, fluffy, soft design makes each brush comfortable and skin-friendly, and the walnut handles are easy to grip. The set also comes with a storage box and a leather case.

Salt Lamp

Our Recommendation: The Body Source Himalayan Salt Lamp

Artisans carve each of these lamps from Pakistani Himalayan salt. This salt creates a relaxing, therapeutic vibe in a dorm room, which can come in handy for stressed-out students dealing with piles of homework. The lamp comes fully assembled and includes a spare bulb.

Hanging Mirror

Our Recommendation: Dahey Gold Hanging Circle Mirror Wall Decor

This mirror makes it easy for students to brush their teeth, wash their faces, and see how they look before heading out for class or a party. The Nordic-style round design is both functional and decorative, and the minimalist frame helps the mirror blend in with all types of furniture.

Tarot Cards

Our Recommendation: The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck and Guidebook

This best-selling box set includes a tarot deck and guidebook. Consisting of 78 cards, the deck helps users explore the mysteries of the natural world and animal kingdom. The 200-page, illustrated book guides new users through the magic and methods of this tarot set.

Picture Frames

Our Recommendation: Melannco Letterboard Eight-Photo Collage

A photo collage in their dorm room can remind students of their friends and family when they feel homesick. This eight-photo model can accommodate various photo sizes and features an easy-to-hang design and a central letterboard for messages and captions

Gifts Under $20

Oil Diffuser Set

Our Recommendation: Cocod'or Garden Lavender Oil Diffuser Set

Anything that can help a college student de-stress qualifies as an excellent gift. This oil diffuser set spreads the scent of lavender, known for its relaxing and soothing properties. This product uses safe chemicals that won't cause harm, and the reed sticks are easy to use and replace.

Smart Plugs

Our Recommendation: Kasa Smart Plugs

These smart plugs work with Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, adding voice control to any device that users plug in. Students can set countdown or clock timers to turn their devices on or off, and the Kasa app is easy and straightforward to use.

Airpods Case

Our Recommendation: CAGOS AirPods Case

These thermoplastic, protective AirPod cases are available in a variety of colors and designs and keep AirPods safe from damage. In addition to the protective feature, the case acts as a charging port for AirPods and is waterproof.

Cookbook Stand

Our Recommendation: Wishacc Bamboo Book Stand

This cookbook stand is an essential tool for the student cook. Constructed from high-quality bamboo and designed to be adjustable, the stand is sturdy and can handle everything from large cookbooks to magazines to handwritten recipes.

Wool Socks

Our Recommendation: JOYCA & Co. Multicolor Wool Socks for Women

These plush wool socks are a thoughtful gift to help get students through the winter. Made from a blend of wool, cotton, polyester, and spandex, these socks are soft, durable, and moisture-wicking. Offerings come in a variety of colors and patterns and fit women's shoe sizes 5-9.


Our Recommendation: LongBay Fuzzy Faux Fur Memory Foam Slippers

Comfortable slippers can add a touch of home to any dorm room. These LongBay slippers use memory foam to cradle users' feet, providing maximum comfort. The nonslip rubber sole ensures that students slip on loose homework or spilled coffee.

Dart Board

Our Recommendation: Hey! Play! Dart Game Set

A fun addition to any college dorm room, this dart board comes with two sets of darts. Designed for both advanced and beginner players, this set includes two games in one: a target bullseye game and classic 20-point darts.

Eye and Face Roller Set

Our Recommendation: Deciniee Jade Roller and Gua Sha Tools Set

This rose quartz face roller works to rejuvenate skin, reduce dark under-eye spots, and provide users with a more youthful appearance. The roller promotes blood circulation and can relieve pressure and reduce wrinkling and puffiness.

Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses

Our Recommendation: Livho Blue-Light-Blocking Glasses

The average college student spends a lot of time looking at screens, meaning that harmful blue light can start to hurt their eyes. These Livho glasses block that light, making screens safer and devices easier to use. This two-pack includes various options for frame colors.

String Lights

Our Recommendation: Lampat Indoor/Outdoor Globe String Lights

String lights can add a touch of class to any space, including a dorm room. These lights can stretch out 25 feet and create ambience for parties or studying. Lampat offers a one-year quality satisfaction guarantee. Each strand includes end-to-end connections, so your student can attach up to three strands together if they want.


Our Recommendation: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life" by Mark Manson

This provocative self-help guide, written by blogger Mark Manson, offers a unique look at how to become a happier, better person. Using a combination of academic research and humor, Manson offers a fresh and funny approach to navigating life's challenges. This gift can offer a nice change of pace for degree-seekers decompressing from rigorous academic reading.


Our Recommendation: Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie

This popular Carhartt knit beanie is acrylic and available in more than two dozen colors. Made with a comfortable, stretchable fabric, this hat can keep any student warm during winter semesters and fits all head sizes.

Whiskey Stones

Our Recommendation: Kollea Reusable Whiskey Stones

For the whiskey purist who doesn't want ice cubes watering down their best bourbon, these whiskey stones keep beverages cold without compromising the taste. This set comes with eight stainless steel ice cubes and nonslip ice tongs. The cubes are dishwasher safe and ready to use after just a few hours in the freezer.

Avocado Slicer

Our Recommendation: OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer

A unique gift for the avocado-loving student in your life, this tool can cover splitting, pitting, and slicing needs all in one cool package. Sleek and dishwasher safe, OXO's avocado slicer has a nonslip grip and cuts the fruit into seven perfect slices.

Dice Game

Our Recommendation: Left Center Right Dice Game

Who doesn't love a good dice game? Left Center Right is a fast-paced dice game for three or more players. The game includes three specialty dice and playing chips. In this game of chance, players roll dice to determine where to pass the chips they've collected. The last player holding chips wins.

Coffee or Tea Brewing Basket

Our Recommendation: Finum Reusable Infusing Mesh Brewing Basket

A perfect gift for caffeine-fueled learners, these reusable stainless steel mesh brewing baskets are used to prepare coffee and tea. Made from food-grade, heat-tolerant stainless steel, the set contains one permanent filter and one filter "hat." The microfine mesh produces a clean, delicious brew.

Succulent Planters

Our Recommendation: ZOUTOG Mini Ceramic Succulent Pots

These stylish succulent planters can add a decorative touch to any college student's abode. Sleek in design, these small planters come with a removable bamboo draining tray and can add a vibrant accent to any dorm room, apartment, or house. The product comes in a pack of six and can create a calming atmosphere that combats exam stress.

Keychain Tool

Our Recommendation: Gerber Shard Keychain Tool

Lightweight and discrete, this keychain tool offers many uses in a small design. Made from stainless steel with a titanium coating, the tool includes a pry bar, two screwdrivers, a wire stripper, and a bottle opener. It's also safe for air travel.

Colored Pencils

Our Recommendation: Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils

Useful for relieving stress in adult coloring books, these Prismacolor colored pencils are perfect for shading and blending. They also provide rich pigments and even color. This 12-count collection includes a spectrum of colors.

Skin Care Set

Our Recommendation: Burt's Bees Essential Gift Set

This skin care gift set from Burt's Bees offers travel-sized containers of several popular products. The collection includes a deep-cleansing cream, hand salve, body lotion, foot cream, and lip balm. All of Burt's Bees products are made from natural ingredients and formulated to provide all-day skin care.

Party Game

Our Recommendation: Czech Games' Codenames

A fun but challenging option for small parties, Codenames is a social word game in which teams of four or more compete. The premise is simple: Participants work to be the first to correctly guess all of their team's code words.

Cutting Boards

Our Recommendation: Farberware Bamboo Cutting Board Set

A tasteful addition to any college kitchen, this set of antimicrobial bamboo cutting boards provides functional and durable cutting surfaces. The large, medium, and small boards can also function as attractive serving options.

iPhone Case

Our Recommendation: ESR Air Armor Case

Boasting military-grade protection and iPhone 11 compatibility, this case has shock-absorbing corners and offers protection from short-distance drops. It also supports wireless charging, has a hard back and flexible frame, and comes in several colors.


Our Recommendation: Discraft 175 Gram Ultra Star Sport Disc

Frisbee on the quad is a classic college activity. The white 175-gram Discraft Ultrastar is the official model used in USA Ultimate tournaments. Your student can toss this disc around with friends or bring it to club Ultimate practice if they decide to try out for their college's team.

Playing Cards

Our Recommendation: Joyoldelf Black Playing Cards

These sleek playing cards are washable and durable, making them perfect for college card games. These cards are manufactured from eco-friendly materials, and the manufacturer offers a full one-year warranty.

Wall Art

Our Recommendation: RipGrip Coffee Art Print and Decor

This wall art is a great gift for any student who doubles as a coffee aficionado. The poster depicts various coffee and espresso drinks, including lattes and cappuccinos. This wall art can make your student's dorm room feel a bit more like a relaxing cafe.

Shaker Bottle

Our Recommendation: BlenderBottle Classic V2 Shaker Bottle

A must-have for students who drink protein shakes, this bottle holds 20 ounces of liquid and employs the patented stainless steel BlenderBall whisk for mixing shakes and smoothies. Boasting a leak-proof lid with a wide mouth for easy mixing, the BlenderBottle is dishwasher safe and comes with a limited warranty.

Coffee Mug

Our Recommendation: Bubble Hugs' Baby Yoda Coffee Mug

Caffeine lovers with a soft spot for Baby Yoda will love this mug. This 15-ounce drinking vessel features a fun image and humorous text. The mug can go in the dishwasher and microwave, and the image is resistant to scratching and fading.

Featured Image: Betsie Van Der Meer / DigitalVision / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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