Holiday Gift Guide for High School Students

My mom taught me the joy of giving thoughtful gifts when I was really young. She refused to buy something for any of my relatives and add my name to the tag. Instead, she encouraged me to think about the recipient of the gift and buy or make something I thought that person would like.  So for as long as I can remember, I was completely involved in the gift-giving process. Unfortunately, given my kid-friendly budget, I essentially gave homemade ornaments long past when it was age-appropriate to do so. But because I was invested in the gift I was giving, watching someone open a present that I carefully purchased or, more-likely, made was really special.

It wasn’t always easy to know what to buy for everyone. As I got older and started to have real money to spend, I began to turn to gift guides. They are everywhere, right? And because teenagers are pretty tough to buy for, here’s another gift guide just for you!

Lindsey’s Ten Favorite Gifts for the High School Students on Your List

  1. An organizational system for college mail

    1. It is amazing how much mail students receive from colleges. I encourage students to sort it into three piles: a pile from colleges to which a student will probably apply, a pile for colleges a student wants to learn more about, and a pile for colleges a student hasn’t heard of and will most likely never visit or attend.

    2. Some type of filing system is really helpful to create these different stacks and I’ve found that some teenagers love professional-looking office supplies.

  2. A subscription to an academic journal

    1. I’m always encouraging students to read articles about academic topics of interest. Based on your student’s passions, find a journal that features research in the field. It’s ok if the content seems too rigorous; your student will benefit from having access to the journal regardless.

  3. A trip to visit a college; preferably not with mom and dad

    1. I love when students have the opportunity to visit a college with a relative such as an aunt or grandparent.

    2. Wrap up a road map and ask your student to pick a school in a city with some touristy things to do.

  4. A lunch date at a fancy restaurant with one of your favorite colleagues and your student

    1. Ask your colleague to join you and your student for lunch (your treat!) to discuss his or her field of work.

    2. Your colleague doesn’t necessarily have to work in the discipline your student is interested in. The experience of eating out with a professional will still be meaningful.

  5. Tickets to a non-sporting event on a college campus

    1. Purchase tickets for a student production of a musical or a student-produced fashion show, or a lecture.

    2. It is easy to understand the culture of a college’s athletic scene, but it is less common to attend something else on campus.  

  6. Books - preferably audio books

    1. Students don’t have a lot of time to read, however, many college applications ask students about what books they enjoy. Pick a few non-fiction audio books that students can listen to in the car.

    2. Go to a bookstore and talk to a sales associate to find popular titles for teens.

  7. A planner - with advice and examples on how to use it

    1. I’m always asking students how they stay organized and most don’t have a good system. Pick out a planner that you think will work and then fill in a few of the pages so your student will know how to use it.

    2. Provide an index card with some best practices on how to create an organizational system. Share what works best for you.

  8. A list of your favorite podcasts and some new headphones

    1. Hey! Podcasts are cool! There’s a podcast on almost every topic imaginable.

    2. If you aren’t a regular listener, a Google search will help you find a few to recommend to your student.

    3. Include a new pair of headphones and you have a great gift!

  9. Luggage

    1. Most teens have duffle bags, book bags and tote bags, but not a good set of luggage to take on college trips.

    2. The set doesn’t have to be expensive, so look for patterns and colors that are teen-friendly.

  10. Stationary

    1. Knowing how to write a thoughtful thank you note is an essential life skill. Throughout the college application process, I remind students to write thank you notes to those who have helped them along the way. Maybe you’ll be the recipient of one of those notes!