As a parent to a first year student, I like to send gifts that remind my teen that I’m thinking of her. But it’s an added bonus if those gifts are also useful to her.
With that in mind, I asked my teen to create a list of 25 presents that she’d be happy to get as a uni student. And so we (jointly) present our list of 20 presents for students at university. Some of these gifts are practical, others are just for fun. We’ve tried to find gift ideas for students at a range of price points for different budgets. Just so you know, some of the links are affiliate links, meaning we’ll make a small commission if you buy, at no cost to you.
Ready to dive in? Here is our ultimate guide to the best presents for students at uni, just for you:
12+ Presents for Students at University
Swanky Earplugs, £19.95
One thing that my teen learned really quickly when moving into uni halls is that the walls are PAPER thin. When you’re sharing a flat with another teen who is enjoying exploring new relationships (gross) or listening to non-stop loud music, you’re going to get pretty cranky, pretty fast.
These ear plugs have great noise-cancelling ability and will ensure that your teen can get a good night’s sleep or even (gasp) study in peace while they’re in a noisy environment. They’re from Loop and available in a number of colours and styles for different types of noise reduction.
A Thermos Flask, £17.25
One of the lessons that my daughter learned very quickly after starting uni is that eating out every day gets expensive REALLY fast. After a month of meal deals and on-campus lunches, I bought her this Thermos flask. A food flask makes an ideal gift for university students because they can take a hot lunch to campus or the library. Teach your teen to meal prep and cook a few good hot lunches, and that’s more spare money for going out at the weekend.
Dinner for 2 weeks, £74
When my teen caught Covid in her first term at university, I didn’t know how I could possibly make life easier for her. What I decided was this – 12 healthy ready meals that would ensure she was well-nourished without the need to go through the hassle of prepping meals. I think this is one of the best presents for students at university.
The lovely thing about Mindful Chef ready meals is they’re healthy, made with lots of vegetables, and healthy whole grains. They make great gifts for university students who are under the weather, busy with exam revision, or just in need of some good meals. A box of 12 meals costs £74, including items like healthy chilli, chicken noodles and more. There’s also a vegan bundle for £64.
Cute slides, £11.98
One of the most practical presents for students at university is a pair of slides – they’ll love you a LOT when they realise they’re the perfect thing to wear in their uni flat kitchen and bathroom. The floors in these areas can be nothing short of revolting, and your little teen will appreciate having something to protect their feet from someone else’s pasta and pesto or (worse) fungal foot infection.
Shark 5-in-1 air styler, £299
When my teen daughter lived at home, she almost never used a hairdryer because she had HOURS to get ready for a night out. Now she’s at university, she often gets home from classes at 5pm, and has to eat, shower and get ready to go out within an hour or two.
A hair dryer and styling tool is now an essential. I know that a certain hair styling tool is THE business, but this one does the same thing, has amazing reviews and is about half the price. The Shark Air Wrap tool is a hair dryer and styling tool with a case, and is available for under £300 at Boots.
Personalised phone card holder, £13
One thing I quickly realised about first year university students is that they go out a lot. Which is normal – how else are they supposed to make friends? But the first time you get a call telling you that your young student has lost their wallet, you’ll wish you bought one of these phone case card holders. It’s £13 from Etsy and can be personalised with initials, and is available in several colours.
Teens can go out with their phone, and safely slot their student ID and bank card into the phone case wallet – meaning they can leave their purse, with all their other important stuff – safely at home. Definitely one of the most practical presents for university students!
Change Robe, £90
If your teen is going to be involved in uni sport then one of the best gift ideas is a changing robe. These long, heavy duty jackets are designed to be worn in cold and/or wet situations, and are huge, allowing your teen to get changed into sports kit, while wearing the coat.
We used to have a more expensive well-known brand but this version from Amazon is £60 less and JUST as good – even better, because it rolls up into a bag and teens can use it as a pillow on the team bus. My daughter is definitely appreciating this for hockey during the Scottish winter!
Heated Blanket, £29.99
This heated blanket is currently 35% off on Amazon and my teen declared it to be the BEST thing I’ve ever bought for her. So I’m confident in recommending this as one of the best presents for university students. My daughter is in Scotland and while it’s hot as heck in summer, during the winter her halls heating has broken down about every ten minutes. This heated blanket is a life saver when she’s in her room studying or watching TV.
Wool Dryer Balls, £9.95
One of the lesser-known joys of moving into university halls is the absolute HORROR that is Circuit Laundry. This company appears to supply the washers and dryers to universities across the land. The industrial machines do a poor job of washing clothes but a truly terrible job of drying. My theory is the washers are so big, the laundry clumps together and no matter how much the students spend, the clothes never get totally dry.
What your student needs, friend, are these wool dryer balls. They’re eco-friendly and inexpensive. Throw them into the dryer and they do a great job of bouncing the clothes around and separating them, so they dry more quickly. Top tip: sprinkle some essential oils on the balls, and your clothes will come out smelling amazing.
Brazilian Bum Bum Cream, £35
Despite the name, this is an all-over body cream that smells amazing and tightens the skin. Brazilian BB Cream is a cult favourite that uni students might not want to splash out on. So why not treat them? This is a great gift to include in a comfort box – if you want to send some home comforts and self-care treats to your first year student. Available for £35 from Boots.
Uniqlo Shoulder Bag, £14
When I tell you that this bag is a uni staple, I mean that almost every girl on campus will have at least one in their wardrobe. They can be worn cross-body, they hold plenty of stuff on a night out, and if you have them in different colours, they can be co-ordinated with different outfits. At just £14, it’s a present for students that won’t break the bank.
If you’re looking for something really special and blow-the-budget in the ‘gift ideas for students’ category, how about a bike?
eBike, from £499
Walking to and from lectures seriously cuts into my young student’s sleeping time, and so we’ve gifted her the family e-bike to make the morning commute a lot less stressful. It helps keep her active, and makes it easier to get from one end of campus to the other when she only has a few minutes between lectures.
This HITWISE e-bike starts at just over £400 with a range of up to 90km. There are models offering higher speeds and battery range running up to more than £600. They’re an investment but will save the trauma of bus rides to campus and underground ticket costs.
Tips for choosing presents for students at university
When it comes to choosing presents for students at university, especially those in Halls, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Most students have limited storage for clothes and accessories in their room. Check if they have space before buying anything too large.
- Some halls of residence will prohibit the use of electrical items that haven’t been PAT tested, so see if this is the case before spending on something they might not be allowed.
- Food is always a good idea, but again, your student will have limited fridge and freezer space so it’s best to get ambient treats that can be stored in their room, where possible.
- If you want to buy a bike, check that there is somewhere to keep it, and don’t forget to buy a lock and get the bike security marked!
- Presents for students at university should be treats – let your kids work out how to manage the essentials for themselves!