60 Gifts for university students

If you have a child starting university or college, or even just moving away from home for the first time, you might be thinking about sending them with a gift, or a selection of items to remind them of home. Choosing gifts for uni students to put in a care package helped me feel close to my daughter in the days before leaving for university, and gave me the comfort that she’d know I was thinking about her while she was away.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share the ideas I collected when I was researching what to give a first time university student. (Please note, this is just a list, not what I actually got for her – I would have needed a second mortgage!)

60 Gifts for students starting university

  • A large tupperware – for keeping their food separate from their flatmates’
  • A Sharpie pen – to label their stuff as theirs
  • Biscuit tin for their room so they’ve always got snacks even if their flatmates pinch the stuff in the kitchem
  • A facemask
  • Bubble bath if they have access to a bath
  • A journal and pen so they can record their time at uni
  • A mattress topper – in case their bed is uncomfortable
  • A fleece blanket
  • An oodie or new fleecy dressing gown – to throw on if they’re chilly
  • Condoms
  • A photo collage of friends and family
  • Ear plugs – unless they’re likely to sleep through their alarms
  • A room decor quote – I like this one that says “If you think missing me is hard, you should try missing you”
  • Nosh for students recipe book
  • A folder full of all their favourite recipes from home
  • Mini herb storage bags so they can take small quantities of their favourite herbs and spices
  • Favourite sweets or chocolate – I made a rainbow jar using a refillable cannister
  • A bottle of their favourite alcoholic drink
  • Mug with their initial, or hand paint one in a pottery shop so they’ll think of you when they have their morning brew
  • A hand painted coaster with their nickname (maybe they’ll finally learn to use a coaster!)
  • An Alexa Show, so you can drop in and see each other when they want to connect
  • A photo album with pictures of all their friends and family
  • A ring or necklace with a personalised engraving
  • A photo album of their leaving do/18th/the last 18 years/all their friends
  • A “positive messages” gift for their wall or desk – I love this Positive Potato
  • A cushion with a picture of their favourite family member (probably the dog) on the front
  • A framed photo of the family (some people put money in the back to tell them about later when they’re needing a night out
  • A personalised photo calendar with pictures of the family (or the dog) and important birthdays marked
  • A jar filled with positive messages from friends and family
  • Warm socks
  • A hot water bottle – for cold nights and period pain
  • A reed diffuser – wax melts and candles are popular with teens, but universities won’t usually let them bring them
  • A stress ball/fidget spinner
  • A print of their name made up of the words that describe them
  • A you are loved pebble hidden in their luggage to find when they eventually unpack
  • Matching tattoos… (Just leaving this here in case you’re of the brave variety!)
  • A necklace with a disc inscribed on one side with the coordinates of their university, and on the other the coordinates of home
  • A photobook made up of pictures sent by all their friends (I had so much fun chatting with their mates in a secret WhatsApp group!)
  • A digital photo frame (similar – family, friends, the cat)
  • Oh, the places you will go, by Dr Seuss

Don’t send it all at once

Whilst it’s lovely to take a package of items for them to open on leaving day after you’ve installed them in their rooms, consider saving some things for later. The chances are, they will have plenty of distractions on that first evening, as they get to know their room mates and have their first Freshers night. They might like to get something in their university pigeon hole a few days into their first week as a surprise and a first test of their new post system. And little treats like a bar of chocolate or a Christmas bauble might go down well during the term, to let them know you still think of them.

Another way to make a uni care package last is to parcel each item up separately with notes as to when they should be opened. You can find pre-printed labels on Etsy to stick to your own packages, or make your own. Ideas include:

  • When you’re low on cash (£20 note)
  • You’re feeling low (chocolate/their favourite teabag/fluffy socks)
  • You need a confidence boost (just a letter will do for this one)
  • You’re missing the coffee machine (Starbucks gift card)
  • You’re feeling homesick (a picture of the family)
  • You’re up late studying (aromatherapy oil to give them a boost)
  • You need a break (KitKat)
  • You can’t be bothered to cook (Greggs/Subway card)
  • You have a big night out (TKMaxx/New Look gift card for a new outfit )
  • You’re under the weather (sore throat sweets)
  • You’re craving your favourite takeaway (UberEats voucher)
  • You meet new friends (their favourite biscuits
  • It’s Halloween (some temporary tattoos)

That way they’ll have little reminders that you care all through their first term – if they can wait that long!

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