Choosing gifts for uni students is a pain. If it's too practical, it'll never get used; too childish, you'll earn yourself a hefty scoff instead of a polite "thank you." Tread the tightrope with a useful, fun gift that isn't too grownup, and you'll be every millennial's favourite Secret Santa.
This baby two-digit combination lock probably won’t keep a bike in place overnight, but it’s perfect for making sure your backpack doesn’t walk off while you take a bathroom break at the library. http://unikia.com/microlock.html
Microsoft Surface 2
Instead of buying your beloved collegiate a laptop and a tablet, spring for this laptop that folds into a touchscreen tablet and get the best of both worlds. It’s already fantastic when used strictly as a laptop, and the tablet function is great for note taking in cramped lecture halls. Or, frankly, watching YouTube at 4AM.
Little America backpack by Herschel Supply
With a padded laptop sleeve, an MP3 player pocket, and plenty of storage space, this $90 backpack carries college essentials with way more panache than a beat-up leftover from high school. Plus, the tasteful design won’t look out of place in a business setting — like, say, a job interview.
Sol Republic Tracks Air Bluetooth Headphones
Help your college kid graduate from those freebie smartphone earbuds to some worthy headphones. These cans have nice sound, especially in the all-important bass range, and at $200 they’re pretty reasonably priced among wireless headphones. Bluetooth means no more getting tangled in zippers and backpack straps, and the built-in microphones mean they can even be used to call home every now and again. Theoretically, at least.
Okay, this isn’t a sexy gift, but it’s damned useful. A free Dropbox account is fine for small-time file syncing, but even a 100GB Pro account ($100/year, a little more if you pay by month) offers enough breathing room to collaborate on a lengthy research paper, backup an iTunes library, or archive photos.
Logitech UE Boom
There are lots of Bluetooth speakers out there, most of which are chintzy and cheap-sounding. The $180 UE Boom is rugged, water-resistant, and offers great sound. It’s also roughly the size of a 22oz beer can — something even the most cramped dorm has space for.
Lifeproof Smartphone Case
Smartphones lead a hard life in a college kid’s hands. Protecting that pocket computer from a tumble down the stairs or a soak in an unspecified puddle of beverage/liquid/general yuck is definitely a good idea. Lifeproof has cases for a wide variety of smartphones, and destroying a phone entombed in one of these will require extra-credit levels of dedication — especially good when that phone's on your family contract.