When you consider the college student in your life, gift buying may feel impossible. Younger people are far hipper to product availability, gadget innovations, and software options--and that makes it tough to find gifts that will impress, get used and maintain their value. Less traditional presents, like subscription services, can be the perfect gifts for college students, but some of the old dorm classics are still good choices. 

These seven gifts for college students are innovative ways to appeal to a generation where less is more, technology keeps on changing, and environmental concerns touch daily life.

1. Bluetooth Ear Buds.

Bluetooth earbuds are one of the perfect gifts for college students.

Review up-to-date “headphone” technology by browsing online reviews or consumer reporting comparisons. Ear buds are an evolutionary leap beyond the old cords we used to use with our iPods and mp3 players. Blue tooth technology is compatible with smart phones, and this vital accessory is relatively inexpensive to purchase and quick to ship.

2. The Mighty Fix.

This service (and there are others like it) will send the giftee a new, environmentally friendly product each month, and slowly prepare them for grown up living. Examples of products include re-usable silicone baggies (no need to throw out plastic) and environmentally sustainable cleaning products. This is a monthly subscription service for which a one year commitment is necessary—which gives your college student a chance to try out 12 different items.

3. Camping Gear.

Two college-aged people hang out in the sunshine in their GCI Outdoor camping chairs.

For hiking, camping and other outdoor expeditions, a smattering of essential gear is a must for every college student. Send a sleeping bag, a camp chair, and a few other household items like a camp stove, water filter, or pocketknife, and you'll equip your favorite college student with a care package for the ages. Plus, you just might be surprised at how much the gear gets used. If your student's short on chairs, or prefers not to have to wash their sheets, their camping gear my take up a more permanent role in their dorm setup. 

4. Care Package for Worst Case Scenario.

Do you like keeping the outdoorsy college student in your life safe? This care package includes three odd but helpful outdoor tools. First, a tick remover in the form of a plastic stick that effectively twists ticks off the body. Handy for woodsy endeavors, the health conscious, and hikers who travel in areas with thick brush—plus, a great conversation starter! Second, a compact first aid kit. Third, we highly recommend iodine tables with taste neutralizer tablets—both can be packed into any hiker’s daypack for emergency water situations. Throw in a couple of your own creative survival tools, and this care package will never be forgotten.

5. A local bus pass or subscription to a ride service.

Two college-aged young people ride the bus together.

Either of these works, but it’s far easier to subscribe to a 30-day or annual ride service (such as Lyft) with a few clicks online. Gifts for college students should never include cars, and other items such as bicycles and scooters are hard to pick out for other people—but rest assured that the student in your life will need a free ride that could be a lifesaver after a night out. 

6. Shower Caddy.

Dorms still use group shower set ups. At the very least, your student will need to share a shower with a roommate or two. Taking everything with when trundling down the hall or into the communal bathroom is convenient and considerate. The shower caddy can also be supplied with goodies such as shampoo and soaps before you ship it off to the dorm.

7. A Duvet and Duvet Cover.

A shot of a well-made bed with a duvet on it.

Comforters are go-to gifts for college students for good reason: they are relatively expensive and most recipients aren’t too hung up on the fashion angle. But a duvet, which is a lighter weight comforter, is a better bet. The reason? The duvet cover (much like a pillow case for a pillow) can be removed and washed every now and then. Plus, it will make the recipient seem vaguely European.