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Holiday Gifts for College Kids (For $50 or Less)

Whimsical Gifts for Teens & 20-Somethings


Well, of course, your college kid wants the latest iPhone, plasma screen and Prius. But here's a round-up of great gifts for the holidays, birthdays or any other occasion - guaranteed to please the college crowd, without breaking the bank. Give them singly, or pair them up for added oomph. And yes, of course we included accessories for the Apple toys they already have... Ho ho ho!

1. BonJour Milk Frother for DIY Lattes

Photo by Jackie Burrell

Steamed frothy milk is what makes a latte a latte, right? This tiny milk frother works like a caramel macchiato dream. The only things you'll need to complete the package are an Aerobie Coffee Aeropress (Compare prices), a low-tech coffee press designed by the same Stanford professor who created the Aerobie, the Frisbee-like disk with a hole in the middle. Finish this DIY latte package off in true Starbucks style with a bottle or two of their flavored syrups - caramel, peppermint, vanilla(Compare prices).

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2. "Hunger Games" Books, CDs & More

Courtesy Republic

Got a "Hunger Games" fan? Suzanne Collins' trilogy has been a mind-blowing crossover hit, the books snatched up by 20 million teens, college kids, 20somethings and, OK, their parents too. And the movie set new box office records. So what do you give a "Hunger Games" fan? Books, CDs and more, obviously.

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3. "The World's End" & Other Blu-Rays

Universal Studios

Alien invasions, zombies, dragons and more zombies? Well, not in the same movie, but there's no doubting the appeal of movies like "The World's End" (and its partners in the Cornetto Trilogy), "Pacific Rim" and everything else on our Blu-Ray-centric gift guide for college kids and 20somethings.

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4. Tailgate Picnic Set

Photo by Jackie Burrell
Make sure your college kid or new alum is ready for any tailgate or picnic opportunities with a well-outfitted picnic basket or tote. You can buy these ready made, but they're typically fairly expensive. Instead, fill a sturdy L.L. Bean canvas tote (Compare prices) with picnic essentials: blue enamel camping ware, plastic flatware, a picnic blanket and DIY collegiate-print napkins. The large foam rubber "We're #1" finger is up to you.

5. College Beanies & Scarves


Winter's on its way. Best to keep the old (or young) bean warm with a beanie. Get a soft knitted beanie or scarf emblazoned with your child's high school or college logo or college colors. ($13 and up)

6. Brita Filter Pitcher

Courtesy Brita

There's no need to fork over the bucks for bottled water when you can simply filter the tap water and stash it in the dorm room fridge. This slim Brita pitcher holds 40 oz. of water and filters out the minerals and heavy chlorination that make dorm water just taste ... wrong. ($17 and up)

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7. Fleece Blanket with University Logo

University of Texas

Pick up a cozy fleece blanket with the university logo at the campus bookstore (or order it online) to keep your college student warm and comfy through the chilly winter months. ($24 and up) (Or make your own using a collegiate print fleece!)

8. iTunes Cards for Music, Movies and iPhone Apps


iTunes gift cards are a guaranteed teen pleaser, but if your teen is toting an iPhone, these gift cards can be used to buy applications for that too - games, crossword puzzles and all sorts of educational apps. Got a musician? There's a tuner application so his A resounds at a perfect 440, an app to coach him through musical scales and a virtual guitar that lets him practice his fretwork anywhere, anytime. Pack the gift card in a CD jewel case with a note suggesting ways to spend the loot. (iTunes gift cards $15 and up; Apple apps less than a buck.)

9. Quelf & Other Board Games

board game
Courtesy Imagination Entertainment

Parcheesi may have entertained our grandparents, but board games are enjoying an enormous resurgence, thanks to games such as Apples to Apples, Pandemic, Settlers of Catan and the very random, very hilarious Quelf. Quelf players quickly find themselves dodging fictitious bees, rapping about tomato soup and doing other funny tasks. Easy to learn and quick to draw a crowd, Quelf is a guaranteed dorm pleaser, but it's not the only one. For more ideas, check out this "Great Dorm Board Games" list too.

10. "Eclipse" "Breaking Dawn" Books, CDs & More

Twilight Saga: Eclipse DVD
Courtesy Summit Entertainment

Whether they're Edward fans or members of Team Jacob, most female teens and 20somethings have read - nay, devoured - Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series. They've scrutinized every paparazzi-fueled Twilight-tidbit, and seen all three movie several times. So here's a complete guide to other gift ideas for the Twilight Saga fan, from soundtracks to movie tickets and companion books.

11. Looking for more ideas?

By Kym McLeod, Stock.Xchng Photos

Check out 89 more holiday gift ideas for college kids and 20somethings too.

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