The Holiday Gift Guide for Smart and Broke College Students


Alright, folks, friends, family. Holiday season is right around the corner. AKA, the most stressful time of the year. Going to stores super early, not knowing what to buy, spending your own money.  It’s a huge hassle. But what makes it all easy, you say? Planning.

If you know what he/she wanted, you wouldn’t not know what to buy.

If you knew exactly what he/she wanted, you wouldn’t have to go to stores super early. You could get it online.

Unfortunately, you’re still going to spend money. But with this holiday gift guide, at least you won’t waste money on a sweater that will never be worn.

I made this guide for broke students. Like, legitimately broke students. Meaning if you can spend 300 on a watch or get your nails done every other week, you’re not broke. This is the holiday guide for the responsible and smart college kids that just happen to be broke because textbooks ain’t free.

If you have a college friend that fits the broke category (or if you’re that college friend), here are a few things they may consider gift-worthy.


    1. If you’re in college, most times you’ll be surrounded by noisy people. From frat parties to athletes that are required to go to the library (and are loud as fudge). My library offers earbuds, but I’d rather not share ear germs with the rest of the Mercer population. My iFrogz were affordable and do the job well.
    2. A portable battery charger: Can’t tell you how many times my phone has died because I have back to back classes! A portable battery charger saves the day because I can easily slip it into my purse. And whenever I’m studying late and forget to charge my phone overnight, I can whip this baby out.


3. Simicore USB Charging Station. And you can’t go wrong with a charging dock for all your devices. I have a phone and an ipod and a computer, so wires are always on the floor. This’ll definitely help organize things together. Get the USB Charging station for only half off–it’s on sale for 30 bucks!

Have a child or a friend in college? Get them a gift they will actually use this holiday season! This is a charging dock for all their gadgets. It charges the gadgets while keeping the desk free from messy wires. .(Aff)(btw, it doesn’t charge laptops)


Stationary/School Supplies

You’re probably thinking, why is this a topic? I don’t know about you, but I love school supplies with a passion. And not just your regular Papermate. I like the heavy-duty, get-your-life-organized, expensive school supplies.

4. Staedtler Fine-tip pens. These pens will bring all your boring notes to life. You can notetake, colorcode in your agenda, or just doodle—and all with little to no bleeding through or smudging. I shop for pens at Walmart but the only good roll-y ones that make you feel in charge are Pilot pens, and they only come in packs of 4. And I need more color in my life.

Doesn’t this make you just want to get off your butt and study?!  (beautiful work of art from

Colorful pens are the best gift for smart but broke college students for the holidays. Pens just make learning more creative, and the colors will definitely stand out when it comes to memorization. Here are other things we college students would appreciate as a Christmas present!


5.  Adidas Book Bag. If your college friend/ child is taking on a heavy course load and a tiny bookbag (because they want to be cute), they’re going to need to upgrade in a few year’s time. These things are a great investment. I remember finding one of these at Ross my freshman year, and it bared its first whole during my spring semester of senior year. Great investment for those taking several classes.

6. Sticky Notes. The wealth of information we come across is sometimes overwhelming for us, and there’ll be times when we just need to brain fart write stuff down so that we can stop thinking about it. Insert the sticky note. Sure, we can buy this on our own, but how often do you go to the store and specifically get sticky notes? It’s like the student version of milk; aint no one gonna remember to get it. I love the 4 x 6 sticky notes because they can hold more of my thoughts, as opposed to the standard 3×3 sticky notes. I also like having a legal pad right next to me to jot/doodle down randomness when I need to destress.

7.  Amazon Prime: You don’t know how many times I’ve bought my books LATE. Some on purpose but other times, money wasn’t looking right, and I fell behind or had to bother people for that book. College students everywhere would appreciate the gift of Amazon Prime. Reliable, two-day, and sometimes FREE shipping on all the textbooks you need? Yes please.

8. Okay, maybe you can’t afford the $99 bucks for prime, but we still love Amazon. Try a cheaper gift like an Amazon Gift card. And if they have Prime already, now they can enjoy 2-day shipping without paying a dime!

Bath n Body

9.  Canvas Mesh Tote:Get a shower caddy that is sturdy and helps you downsize on space. And it's only 6 bucks!

And I wouldn’t mind having one of these caddies. It would definitely help me downsize on space! And it’s only about 6 bucks (excluding shipping).


10. Did you know there was a stress relief lotion? Bath and Body Works sell this sweet-smelling Eucalyptus hand lotion to rub all the stress away.  Stress is undeniably a part of life, especially a college student’s life. This would be a great thing to add. It’s relatively affordable and works wonders.




Cooking Utensils

  1. Bet you weren’t thinking about this, huh. If you know of a college student that’s moving out or has a kitchen, I bet you they’re going to need help supplying the appliances. It’s a good investment since it saves them money in the long run. Plus it’s a whole lot easier to eat better if you’re cooking your own food. Check out this relatively cheap cooking starter kit, if I may.


12. Y’all. Did yall know that Tasty is releasing their own cookbook? If you don’t know, Tasty is what we college students are gobbling up, seriously!  They’re short and simple recipes recorded by Buzzfeed and shared all over social media–and now they’re coming to us in book form! The book’s not out yet (but will be December 6), but you can preorder it here.


If you’re still not entirely sure what someone in college would like, you can get them either money or FOOD. You cannot go wrong with small snacks because when the Caf is closed and they need energy to write a 10-page paper due tomorrow, they’re going to be hangry.

Look, if you type in “college gift set” on Amazon, ALL you’ll see is food. That’s because it’s one of the best gifts we can ever have! There are care packages for chips lovers, GMO-conscious, health nuts, practically everyone.


And thus wraps up the holiday gift guide. I don’t think we college students are that difficult to impress when it comes to gifts. We’re all struggling so we’d kindly welcome even the simplest of things like fancy pens and food.

Any college students in the house? I’m making a series of gift guides so that we can kiss the days of bad gifts goodbye haha. What would you like for the holidays?


(DISCLAIMER there’s lots of Affiliate links in this one. Promise it won’t make your cost more expensive or cheaper.)

Not sure what to get your favorite college student? OR want to tell people what you actually want and NEED? Here's what broke college students want for the holidays--Christmas, New Years, or just for their birthdays. These are holiday gifts for him and holiday gifts for her--totally unisex. Click here to view the full holiday guift guide for smart and broke college students!