What does a 20 year old (male) college student want for x-mas?
December 2, 2014 6:50 PM   Subscribe

No one in my family knows what to get my brother for x-mas (and his birthday in February). He doesn't even know what he wants. Help!

He's at Grinnell college in Iowa, majoring in chemistry. He does some hiking/camping/biking but has most of the stuff he needs for that kind of thing. He plays ultimate. Not into music or gaming.

I usually get him clothes because he doesn't buy them for himself, but he says he's got enough. I tried to get him noise-cancelling headphones but my Dad helpfully did that last year.

I would be totally fine giving him a gift card, but would like at least a small physical thing too.
Budget is $50-75
posted by genmonster to Shopping (37 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Money and food/snacks. A care package with snacks and a visa gift card would have been my absolute love in college. Maybe a comfy blanket would be nice too.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

New running shoes (or whatever they use in Ultimate) -- even if he has some, he'll go through them.
posted by Etrigan at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

A really nice board game to play with his friends, like Dominion or Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

I'm in a pretty much 100% digital lifestyle these days so there are not many physical items I ever really want. But board games are an awesome way to make friends.

Also there are approximately four trillion little cycling accessories in that price range because apparently word has gotten out that cyclists like little trinkets and have money. But of course most of them are junk.
posted by miyabo at 6:55 PM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Pay for a year's worth of Amazon prime?
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 6:56 PM on December 2, 2014 [12 favorites]

Fellow Ultimate player here -- if he doesn't already have them, a set of Ultimate-specific gloves would be a great gift. I promise I'm not shilling, but Friction Gloves are the brand I have and love. They fit well within your budget and will be used frequently on rainy/cold game days.
posted by Dilligas at 6:56 PM on December 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Cash and a few months subscription to Graze box.
posted by phunniemee at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2014

Unbreakable pint glasses?
Heated ice scraper (it snows a bunch there, right?)
Smartphone breathalyzer?
posted by kellyblah at 7:04 PM on December 2, 2014

I've had college students enjoy minimus.biz care packages, especially if they live in the dorms. I think everybody likes teeny sizes. This cold & flu care package is very popular, I get e-mails four months later going "I would have died of the cold if not for this ..." People eating dorm food always like the condiments package. Something like that could be the little something to go with the gift card.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:06 PM on December 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

Wool socks. Nobody has enough wool socks. Especially merino.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2014 [7 favorites]

Pay for a year's worth of Amazon prime?

I piggybacked off my parents' Prime in college. Er, I still do, actually. You can share it with family even if they're at different addresses, so don't buy a subscription just for him!
posted by BungaDunga at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Gift card to Amazon.com
posted by discopolo at 7:15 PM on December 2, 2014

In terms of useful trinkets, I recommend a small Leatherman, like the Micra, and/or a keyring torch.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:23 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does he have a nice watch for the activities that he does?
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Depending on how seriously he's into the camping/hiking/biking, consumables for those might be nice. E.g., lube, degreaser, fuel, carb/electrolyte drink mix, pocket food, etc. These are easier to buy for another person because they're less idiosyncratic (maltose fits into just about anyone's mouth) and if you don't quite get the right ones, he'll go through them quickly and move on.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:24 PM on December 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe a gift certificate for Pagliai's Pizza?
posted by Area Man at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2014

Something like this Zippo hand warmer might be really great for camping. It's inexpensive, so you could pair it with something else.

I've also never met anyone who had these slippers and didn't love them.

Some nice phone accessories could also be great, like a portable battery for his smartphone, or one of these bendy phone cable/tripod things.
posted by sockermom at 7:39 PM on December 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:59 PM on December 2, 2014

Ooh, I second Dilligas' suggestion -- Ultimate gloves are a great idea. I play only a little bit and am not super serious about it, but I would still be pretty psyched if someone got me a pair of Ultimate gloves.
posted by mekily at 8:08 PM on December 2, 2014

A gift card to Five Ultimate would probably also be appreciated. Or, alternatively, a gift card to wherever he likes to buy his cleats.
posted by mekily at 8:10 PM on December 2, 2014

As a hiker close to his age, one thing I want is a Sawyer Mini Water Filter. Another popular gift item right now is a hammock (if he doesn't already have one). ENO is one of the most popular hammock brands while Grand Trunk is a little cheaper to find
posted by Deflagro at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2014

I got my dorm-dwelling nephew a bag of easily prepared Trader Joes groceries for his early December birthday last year. Apparently it was a huge hit. I had no idea microwave popcorn was so important for surviving finals week!
posted by chaoticgood at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2014

It's a little over your budget, but maybe a few family members want to get together and buy him some nice luggage?
posted by justjess at 10:25 PM on December 2, 2014

matildatakesovertheworld wrote:
Pay for a year's worth of Amazon prime?
If he's a student, he qualifies for the lower-cost Amazon Student version of Prime, FYI.
posted by Aleyn at 12:08 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does he own his own tools? A basic set of tools or a nice drill is super useful both in college and also after college as he makes the transition into his own apartment.
posted by jazh at 1:45 AM on December 3, 2014

Give a donation to the charity of his choice. He's an adult now, and he says he's already got enough stuff; why not take him at his word?
posted by clawsoon at 4:58 AM on December 3, 2014


For a physical something, toiletries. Make a gift box of soap, deodorant, shampoo, razors, lip balm, etc.

Actual stuff, when you're living in a small space is a burden.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:08 AM on December 3, 2014

Alternatively, every college student that drinks coffee could use a fantastic travel mug.

this Zojirushi is the best one that I have found, and the one I got recently for my mother. I have the older version and for ~$30 this is an awesome gift.
posted by knockoutking at 5:32 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh totally random but if he's cooking in a dorm or small apartment maybe he'd like an Instant Pot? It's a rice cooker/slow cooker/pressure cooker in one that also has a built-in auto-start timer.
posted by miyabo at 6:21 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am giving pretty much everyone I know an external battery charger. (I'm buying this one for everyone. The one I linked you to is a larger capacity and has a few more features that make it less stocking-stuffer and more valuable gift)
posted by royalsong at 7:16 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

A nice flashlight?

A nice set of binoculars?

A nice knife?
posted by doctor tough love at 7:38 AM on December 3, 2014

Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription, unless he's just sharing his parents' account.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 8:16 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

A 2.5" portable hard drive. 2TB for $90. Or maybe just a flash drive if you want something smaller and cheaper.
posted by Nelson at 11:15 AM on December 3, 2014

A spare or battery operated smart phone charger.
posted by oceano at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2014

This may be initially seen as a "socks & underwear" kinda gift, but a Sonicare toothbrush.

It's one of those things that no college student would spend money on but having nicer, whiter, and fewer cavities will pay off.
posted by wcfields at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know what your budget limit is, but as a christimas and birthday gift you could open up a roth ira for him (and obviously have everyone chip in, $1k in Vanguard index fund would be great). I would have loved that gift at that age because even though I knew it was the right thing to do, I was too afraid/hesitant to open up one myself, until I got older and got over it.
posted by driedmango at 4:00 PM on December 3, 2014

If *he* doesn't know what he wants, and since he doesn't really need anything, a gift to a great charity in his name (maybe Heifer International? Near East Foundation?) might be wonderful. Bonus if it aligns with/points him on a path of giving and caring for those far less fortunate.
posted by cyndigo at 10:02 PM on December 3, 2014

« Older History books of the Pac NW   |   Adapting for profit my own work, portions of which... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.