Why: For taking notes, endorsing checks or jotting down the pizza order. Make it a keepsake by having it engraved with the grad’s name or initials.

Price: $20 and up

MP3 player/recorder

Why: To keep tunes handy. (Many even double as digital planners and alarm clocks, so it’s several gifts in one.)

Price: About $200, depending on the model and features


Why: For college students, a vital accessory. To really surprise him, tuck some goodies inside-a pocket-size dictionary, a cookbook, airline tickets to someplace fun.

Price: $25 and up

Laundry survival kit

Why: Promote independent laundering. Fill a sturdy basket with a few good towels, detergent and a roll of quarters.

Price: About $35. For a personal touch, CollegiateGifts.com sells a personalized laundry bag-“Justin’s Dirty Duds” or “Mom, I’m Home…”-for $24.95.

Edible goodies

Why: Something to munch during late-night study sessions. Pack a gift bag or basket with candy, nuts, granola bars, coffee, hot cocoa and other munchies.

Price: About $20

Gift cards

Why: More personal than cash. Consider prepaid phone cards or a gift card to a bookstore, electronics store, restaurant, grocery store, gas station or auto parts store (they’ll need oil and wiper blades).

Price: You name it.


Why: An ideal gift to start her on life’s journey.

Price: Varies greatly depending on size and manufacturer, but $60 is a good starting point.

Magazine subscription

Why: To ensure some fun mail. Or consider a subscription to your hometown newspaper, so he can keep up with current events and news back home.

Price: $15 and up.

Mail supplies

Why: So he’ll have everything handy for writing letters back home-or just paying bills. Fill a bag or basket with stationery, envelopes, stamps, address book, and a calendar with relatives’ birthdays filled in.

Price: About $25

Waterproof fire safe

Why: To protect passports, birth certificates and other valuable records from fire or water damage. It’s one of those gifts he’ll really appreciate later.

Price: About $30.

Laptop computer

Why: No modern graduate should leave home without it.

Price: $700 and up (way up)

Board games

Why: Arm her with an icebreaker. Consider a brain-bending group game such as Cranium or Trivial Pursuit, or a collection of classics such as checkers, chess and cards.

Price: $30

A good pillow

Why: To help him rest easy. Pair it with a premium cotton pillowcase in his favorite color.

Price: $25 and up

A share of stock

Why: Give the gift of equity-and a reason to keep an eye on Wall Street. Oneshare.com offers framed stock certificates for well-known companies such as Krispy Kreme, Nike, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.

Price: Varies. At Oneshare.com, a framed Krispy Kreme certificate costs about $100; unframed, $59.

Roll of carpet or area rug

Why: To brighten up a drab dorm-room floor.

Price: $25 and up

College T-shirt

Why: So he can proudly proclaim his collegiate allegiance. For a more substantial gift, pair it with a sweatshirt for cooler days.

Price: $10 and up

Digital camera

Why: For capturing memories.

Price: $100 and up. (Be sure to include a memory card and other accessories.) For a low-cost alternative, consider a disposable camera and photo album.

Loft bed

Why: Because it adds 26 square feet of precious living space-essential for dorm rooms or small apartments.

Price: CollegeBedLofts.com offers plans for $10, completed wood lofts for $180 and up.

Lava lamp

Why: Brightens up a dreary room.

Price: About $10

Framed four-leaf clover

Why: Legend has it that a four-leaf clover symbolizes wealth, fame, good health and a faithful lover. What more could a graduate wish for?

Price: $28, from RedEnvelope.com

Sporting goods

Why: Having a basketball, football or Frisbee handy will encourage exercise as well as socializing.

Price: $10 and up.


Why: It always fits.

Price: You name it.

Flip flops

Why: Good for the soles, especially in communal bathrooms.

Price: $2.

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