15 best stocking stuffers and gifts for college students

My college kid recently arrived home for the holidays with two suitcases stuffed with her belongings. My first thought: How is she going to have room in her luggage to take back the gifts she’ll get for Christmas?

This packing quandary — coupled with the knowledge that the room she shares with three friends doesn’t have much space — changed my shopping this holiday season. In the end, there will be more gifts for her in her stocking than under the tree. And that’s OK because good things come in small packages, right?

These gifts, especially curated for the college set, are fun, functional and small enough to easily transport come January when it's time for your kid to head back to campus.

When we release our 2018 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But, prices change frequently (yay, deals!), so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.

Gifts for college students

  • 1. Clarins 4-Color All-in-One Lining Pen, $32, Nordstrom

TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

Related: The Real Joys of Being a Mom

Clarins 4-color All-in-one Liner

$32

This combination eye and lip liner has 4 colors — black, emerald, plum and pink — in one, ingenious pen. Made of a soothing blend of sunflower, jojoba and black acacia wax extracts, it makes creating different looks a matter of one simple click.

  • 2. Aiker Bluetooth Beanie, $20, Amazon

Bluetooth Hat Musical

$20

Talk about double duty. This cute, soft, cozy beanie will keep them warm and entertained on those long winter walks across campus.

You Got This Pencil Set

$11

This festive colorful set of six pencils printed with the saying "You Got This" are sure to help encourage your student when taking that next Stats exam. We also love the "Pep Talk Pencils" with sayings such as "Make Today Great," "Like A Boss," and "Choose Happiness."

  • 4. "Sesame Street" Oscar The Grouch Socks, $14, Bombas

"Sesame Street" Oscar the Grouch Socks

$14

These will become their favorite pair of socks. Bombas socks are the best because they're soft, they stay up and they don't have a seam in the toe. And the "Sesame Street" Limited Edition collection is too cute (we had a hard time choosing between Oscar, Ernie, Bert and The Count). Also, for every pair of socks purchased, a pair is donated by Bombas to homeless communities around the country.

Know the value of face-to-face communication. Very young children learn best through two-way communication. Engaging in back-and-forth "talk time" is critical for language development. Conversations can be face-to-face or, if necessary, by video chat with a traveling parent or far-away grandparent. Research has shown that it's that "back-and-forth conversation" that improves language skills—much more so than "passive" listening or one-way interaction with a screen.

  • 5. Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo, $6, Ulta

Clean Freak Dry Shampoo

$6

Dirty hair? Don't care. This dry shampoo is a godsend for days when they want to extend that good 'do just a few days longer.

  • 6. Poo-pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray, $10, Ulta

Poo-pourri Before You Go Toilet Spray

$10

Shared living quarters require spray etiquette. Just a spritz of Poo-pourri works by creating a barrier on the water's surface trapping odor before it begins! Tell your college kid to stash this in the bathroom for all to share.

  • 7. Mother’s Vault Bamboo Toothbrushes, $7, Amazon

Mother’s Vault Biodegradable, Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toothbrush

$7

These eco-friendly toothbrushes have smooth bamboo handles and medium-soft BPA-free nylon bristles. We love that they say "Mother's Vault" on the handle — a subliminal reminder from mom to brush those teeth!

CB Station Makeup Bag

$15

A durable, canvas bag that's perfect for makeup, jewelry or even those unruly phone cords and headphones. There are many colors to pick from and we love that you can get it personalized.

  • 9. Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder, $28, Amazon

Ulla Smart Hydration Reminder

$28

Help them stay hydrated with this nifty little gadget. It attaches to any size water bottle and when it blinks, you take a drink. (Smart detection sensors remind you to hydrate at least once per hour.)

Normal rules apply. Discipline the child who stutters just as you do your other children and just as you would if he didn’t stutter.

  • 10. Lamp Bulb Flash Drive, $11, Amazon

32GB USB LED Light Flash Drive

$11

This cute 32 GB flash drive actually lights up when you plug it in! We think it might inspire some must-needed "Eureka" moments while studying. It also comes with a keychain so it can attach to any backpack.

  • 11. Shakespearean Insult Bandages, $7, Amazon

Accoutrements Shakespearean Insult Bandages

$7

Got an English or Drama major? Nothing like some Bard humor to make them giggle as they are tending to their cuts, scrapes and scratches.

  • 12. Jackery Portable Power Station, $30, Amazon

Portable Charger Jackery Bolt

$30

Because kids today NEED juice. For their phones, that is. This compact phone charger is amazingly light and charges iPhones twice as fast as the iPhone original charger.

  • 13. Pon Travel Pillow, $22, Amazon

Pon Travel Pillow

$22

This U-shaped memory foam neck pillow helps relieve shoulder and neck pain. Good for long plane or car rides but also for lounging in the dorm. It fits in a compact bag so it's easy to transport.

Don’t be too critical towards your child’s exploration of the Internet. Children may come across adult material by accident on the web. Also, a child may intentionally search for such websites; remember that it is natural for children to be curious about off-limits material. Try to use this as an opening to discuss the content with them, and perhaps make rules for this kind of activity. Be realistic in your assessment of how your child uses the internet.

  • 14. Katana Safety Arc, $80, Amazon

Katana Safety Arc

$80

This may be your priciest stocking stuffer, but oh what peace of mind it will bring a parent. This gadget attaches to your child's phone and provides three different kinds of security alerts for emergency situations. One is a piercing siren, another is a more discreet silent alert button, and a third notifies a circle of seven contacts what your location is.

  • 15. Wandf Foldable Travel Duffel Bag, $17, Amazon

Wandf Foldable Travel Duffel Bag

$17

We love that this water-resistant nylon bag folds and fits into an envelope-sized carrying bag. So when they come home for the holidays, they could throw it in their luggage. Then when they leave, this would help them carry all those great stocking stuffers back to college!

Finding the perfect present can be a challenge, but Shop TODAY's up to the task. No matter who you're looking for, we've got gift guides for everyone on your list:

  • Gifts for makeup lovers
  • The best tech gifts of the year
  • Gifts for your fashionista friends

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