An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Top 20 Christmas Gifts for College Students 2011

It is that time of year again, and one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year is just over a week away. The older I have gotten the more difficult I am to buy for. My parents have constantly reminded me of this. My tastes have varied, become more sophisticated (debatable), and do not follow any strict pattern.

This same thing happens with college students, and also because these students all live away from home for 9 months (maybe more) out of the year, parents are rarely in touch with what their students need.

In this list, I tried to compile the top 20 gifts that college students really want this year. These are all gifts that I can vouch for, and that I have seen many times over on the college campus I work on.

You college student will thank you with any of these gifts, as they are all much better than gift cards! Scroll down to the end for a surprise bonus!


No. 1 – Amazon Kindle Fire – $199

The Amazon Kindle Fire has been tagged as the iPad killer. It does allow you to browse the internet with Amazon’s Silk browser, you can download and watch movies, read books, download apps, and even connect to the Amazon Cloud storage. I’d buy one!

No .2 – Timex Ironman Road Trainer Heart Rate Monitor Watch – $71.60

If your college student is a runner, an athlete, or just wants to avoid the Freshman fifteen, then this heart rate monitor will do the trick. You can even view calories burned!

No 3 – Osprey Daylite Pack – $41.89

Having a quality pack to carry around campus is one of the best ways to promote back health, and foot health. For students who do a lot of walking, they are prone to back and foot strain because of the weight they carry. The Osprey Daylite pack prevents both of those with an ergonomic light design. And, it is super stylish!

No 4. – Camelback Stainless Steel Bottle – $10.95

Staying hydrated, and always having water, coffee, tea, or your other beverage of choice on hand, can be a life saver. You gift can promote health, and is virtually indestructible!

No 5. – NorthFace TriClimate Jacket – $278.00

In most places around the country, winter time on a college campus can be dreary. The skies are gray, exams are right around the corner, and it is just downright depressing at some times. To top it all off, it is cold, windy, rainy, and possibly snowy. That is where the North Face TriClimate jacket comes in. It is a 3 piece jacket that can be a fleece, a rain jacket shell, or a combined fleece/shell for the ultimate protection. Guaranteed to keep your college student safe from the elements on their college campus.

No. 6 – Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones – $299.95

Studying can be tough. A rowdy library, or busy college campus can distract even the most diligent of students. With the Bose noise cancelling headphones, your student can shut out their surroundings and focus on their studies. This fact alone could justify the investment in their future!

No. 7 – iRobot Roomba 532 – $296.99

This gift will save you the peace of mind in knowing that your student’s apartment is clean. What is easier than turning on the Roomba and letting it vacuum? Another gift that has dual benefits!

No. 8 – Subscription to Netflix – $7.99 per Month




This might not sound like the best idea for a college student, but it is one that they will thank you for. There is nothing more thrilling than watching a great movie after a hard exam, or catching the latest thriller with your friends. Your student will thank you.

No. 9 – Western Digital My Passport Portable Hard Drive – $149.99

This handy device has replaced the thumb drive. It allows a student to store up to 1TB of data (that is a lot), and they can plug and play anywhere they go on campus.

No. 10 – Southern Tide Apparel – Varied



Some of the trendiest clothing on college campuses, this is sure to impress.

No. 10 – TOMS Shoes – $39.90

Some of the trendiest shoes on a college campus. Plus every pair you purchase, means that a little kid will get a pair of shoes. A gift and a donation…the best of both worlds!

No. 12 – Apple iPhone 4s – $669

Hopefully this does not surprise anyone that this made the list. It’s only the latest version of the most popular phone in history! Might be cheaper to go through your cell phone provider, but it’s a sweet phone regardless!

No. 13 – Keurig Coffee Machine Signature Brewer – $169

Coffee is an essential part of every college student’s morning, afternoon, evening, and night. The Keurig makes it simple to brew, and low maintenance. Both qualities a college student can appreciate. Oh, and it makes great coffee too!

No. 14 – Canon EOS Rebel T3 – $488

It shoots amazing pictures, it shoots 1080p video, and it is simple to use, yet packed with features. If your college student is a budding photographer or wants quality pics, then this is the camera to buy them.

No. 15 – Apple MacBook Pro – $1099

The ultimate laptop for your college student. Whether they are a fine arts major, or a math major, their world will be revolutionized with this machine. Make them the coolest kid on the block this year!

No. 16 – Xbox 360 – $199

Give the gamer in your life, the ultimate gaming machine. Time management skills sold separately.

No. 17 – Vupoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner – $94

College students can scan important documents on the fly, and even connect to their laptops via bluetooth wireless.

No. 18 – Magellan Roadmate GPS – $92

Your college student will never get lost, and they can even find there way home once or twice a semester. It’s another win- win for all involved.

No. 19 – Livescribe Smartpen – $99

This ingenious gadget is an actual pen, but it is also a voice recorder. So you can take notes and record a lecture at the same time, with the same device!

No. 20 – Sony Dash Personal Internet Viewer – $99

Get information and entertainment in your bedroom, kitchen, or office, without being tethered to your PC. It’s also an alarm clock, which is an essential for every college student. Once missed exam can cause a lot of grief.


Drumroll please……..Here is your surprise…… final, amazing gift idea for your college student Enjoy!


Surprise – Moleskine Leather Notebook – $11

The classic leather notebook, for a classy college student. Perfect match with their Livescribe Smartpen!

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  1. Hell, I would love to have all the gifts here, and it’s been so long since i was in college Jimmy Carter was President.
    Dr Dean recently posted..Financial Follies: Buffett Buys Tech Edition!My Profile

    • @Dr. Dean – Haha. I am sure that times have changed a bit since then. And you’re right, the gifts do transcend most age barriers. Maybe that keeps us young at heart?

  2. These are all excellent gifts. I especially like the day pack. Some of these are even reasonable in price. 😉 It’s too bad that though I’m in college, I don’t consider myself the “college student” anymore. But this gives me some great ideas for my niece!
    Little House recently posted..SMART GoalsMy Profile

    • @Little House — Yea, I do agree that the prices got a little out of control. It seems that college students have expensive taste these days. I have considered trying for a second list of relatively inexpensive christmas gifts for college students. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way!

  3. These are all great gifts – I’d prefer the daypack and the jacket. I got a jacket for christmas this year from north face but not that exact one. They are awesome!
    Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog recently posted..Is Getting Your Own Food Cheaper, Part 2My Profile

    • @Jeff – Thanks! I also love North Face products. They are a little pricey, but IMO, well worth it for their performance and durability.

  4. These are great gift ideas. I’m not a college student and I would love to have half of them! Maybe I’ll pretend I am in college again and buy some for myself!
    Jana @ Daily Money Shot recently posted..Money for nothingMy Profile

    • @Jana – I think that sounds like a fabulous idea. Let me know if you decide to buy one, and how it turns out!

  5. I love these ideas… but I’m not sure why the iPhone 4s was so low on the list? Haha… it’s just because I’m such a fan!
    Doctor Stock recently posted..Best Canadian REITsMy Profile

    • @Dr.Stock — Haha. To be honest, they were in no particular order. I probably should have thought about that before hand, but alas, I didn’t think before I posted! I agree with you though, the iP{hone 4s would certainly be very close to the top for me as well.

  6. Can’t beat Toms ! Like wearing slippers all day!

    Wish somebody would buy me an iRobot Roomba 🙂
    Jessie recently posted..Amazon Black Friday Deals Week.My Profile

    • @Jessie – I ‘m glad you love the TOMS so much. My wife is actually a huge fan. I believe she has 3 pairs already and is wrangling for a 4th! Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Hmmm, C is probably not getting any of these things from me, even though he is in college. But if someone wanted to buy them for me… (Terrible of me, I know.)
    shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet recently posted..Sunday Evening Post #18My Profile


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