Top 10 gifts that every uni student actually wants

Published: 04/08/2021
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A-level results day is almost here, and it won’t be long before the next chapter of your kid’s life begins! No matter the outcome, this is a momentous occasion that deserves to be celebrated - so securing the right gift is a must… but what is the ‘right’ gift for a prospective uni student? 

Spoiler: it’s not bottles of alcohol! 

We asked some of the grads in our team what they wish they’d been given before upping sticks to uni and found a resounding theme - presents that are both practical and fun! Think student-friendly recipe books, ingenious icebreakers for Freshers’ Week, wireless headphones to drown out noisy halls, fitness gear for new sports clubs… the list goes on!

With that in mind, we’ve taken all the answers from our team and found 10 genius gift ideas that every student will actually want and use at uni. We’ve included something for every interest and individual, so you’re sure to find the perfect pressie right here. 

Wrapping paper at the ready - let the celebrations begin!

OnBuy’s top ten gifts for every soon-to-be student

excited girl receiving a gift

Without further ado, let’s delve straight into our list of top ten practical products, exploring all the options that are sure to delight and excite any soon-to-be student this summer. 

To help you navigate our selection, we’ve split these long-term lifesavers into five separate sections, according to their interests and hobbies. So, whether your scholar is a DJ in the making (watch out Calvin Harris), passionate about sport, or drawn to the wonderful world of gastronomy (lucky you!), we have something for every pastime and pursuit on our extensive online shelves. Who knows, you could be welcoming back the new Jamie Oliver at Christmas!

The device devotee

woman using a laptop tablet and mobile

Just like Ariel, we’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty! If they’re addicted to tech and electronics but you don’t know your bots from your browser cache, this is the segment for you. Take a look through our two fantastic items below, both of which could make all the difference to your device devotee’s uni experience…

Rick PowerSquad Power Bank

Rick and morty power bank

Ideal for: Students who like to carry their tech with them, often forget to charge their phone, and prefer to pull all-nighters at the library

Your favourite evil genius from the hit show Rick & Morty is the perfect addition to any student rucksack or purse. Helping to keep their phone charged and fuelled as they venture out on a range of fun-filled adventures, this 2500mah power bank is super convenient and an absolute must for those with forgetful tendencies (we’ve all been there!). Showcasing a built-in USB cable feature, they won’t even have to worry about stray wires cluttering the base of their bags, freeing up space for all their other favourite devices and equipment. 

Giving peace of mind to anyone with concerns over their mobile’s daily battery life (especially when exploring a new town), it’s the handy and anxiety-averting accessory they didn’t know they needed! Plus, with its fun, eye-catching, and lightweight design, straight from the popular TV show itself, it’ll be easy to find among all their other belongings and, crucially, won’t weigh a tonne in their pocket! Standing at only 12cm tall, it can easily fit into smaller compartments and wallets, too – bonus!

Roku Express Streaming Media Player

Roku Express Streaming Media Player

Ideal for: Those who prefer to save precious space in their bedroom, are keen on accessing a variety of online streaming platforms, and love modern contraptions

Got a media buff in your midsts? Get them the Roku Express media player! Helping to remove the need for separate top boxes and bulky accessories around the TV, this nifty device places all the best streaming services in one place, meaning they’re easy to access and navigate with the small and compact remote. Benefitting from incredibly fast performance and 1080p HD streaming, any student will be able to make any TV a Smart TV with the Express device in their stash. 

Effortless to set up and incredibly easy to use, the state-of-the-art interface is intuitive and modern, encouraging any user to choose from over 500,000 individual movies and television episodes. The efficient, minimalist device can be stored anywhere, without taking up heaps of precious space in their restricted dorm room. Allowing them to harness viewing power from a wide variety of sites, including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBC, YouTube, HBO, and ESPN, they’ll be able to watch everything from football to chick flicks with just a simple click. It’s worth remembering that subscriptions aren’t included in this package, but this shouldn’t be an issue if they already have access to the platforms.

The musical maven

man in orange t shirt listening to over ear headphones

For those that love to sing (and dance) their heart out, our music department is your one-stop-shop for toe-tapping tunes and tech combined. Whether they’re a fan of vintage vibes and can’t get enough of that nostalgic vinyl sound, or they’re planning on becoming the next Fatboy Slim, with all the drive belts, turntables, and controllers under the sun, we have something to suit every musical maven and disco devotee.

Still not sure what to go for? Check out two of our favourite pressies that are sure to delight any music-lover below!

JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

JBL Clip 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Ideal for: Anyone who likes to listen on the go, wants a high-quality gadget that’s waterproof and durable, prefers classic, sophisticated designs

Top of anyone’s university checklist is probably a portable Bluetooth speaker, and it’s not very hard to see why! Compact, convenient, and transportable, they’re extremely versatile and handy, whether they like to sing in the shower, or drop some beats at a party. 

This JBL model benefits from a plethora of extra features, including an easy-to-attach clip (for travel purposes or music on the go), tactile face and side buttons, to keep them in control of the playback, and a waterproof IPX7 classification, meaning it can be taken to the beach or pool with no fear of breakage or leaking. What’s more, it’s discreet black colour is suited to a range of personality types and preferences, as it won’t look conspicuous or off-puttingly striking in their bag. 

With simple Bluetooth connectivity, and also the option to connect devices (like smartphones and laptops) via the 3.5mm jack, they’ll be able to enjoy up to ten hours of tunes thanks to the built-in rechargeable battery, which can help to keep the celebrations going all night long. Designed for fun-loving lifestyles, and more than capable of withstanding an accidental dunk or tumble, the JBL Clip 3 is a small wireless speaker with a huge heart – and plenty of power to boot!

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II

Ideal for: Students who want to cut out distractions and drown out noisy neighbours, those that like to listen to music when they run, walk, or exercise at the gym

When it comes to superior sound quality, you can rely on Bose - and the QuietComfort 35 II delivers on more than just that front! Cushioned and cleverly designed with durability in mind, these premium headphones can withstand even the most heavy-handed of students, providing all-day comfort to boot. Whether they’re listening to online lectures, blowing off the cobwebs with a morning run, or simply wanting to drown out the hubbub of halls, these headphones have got them covered thanks to their handy noise-cancelling feature. Think of them as the epitome of ‘music on, world off’! 

They boast up to 20 hours on a single charge - that’s plenty to keep any student stimulated during those long all-nighters in the library! Plus, they can provide up to 2.5 hours of uninterrupted music after just 15 minutes of topping up, so even the most forgetful students can enjoy their favourite tunes on the go. 

An absolute lifesaver when noisy neighbours refuse to dial it down, a pair of high-quality, noise-cancelling headphones are a student staple - and they’ll definitely thank you for them when exam season rolls around!

The fitness fanatic

woman happily running

Often, uni is the place where you discover your life-long sporting interest. With so many choices on offer, it’s hardly surprising that students are encouraged to try something new! Fitness is a fantastic way to blow away the cobwebs throughout the year, and provide a welcome break from the endless studying and dreaded exam season in May. Whether they’re keen to try a spot of squash, a little lacrosse, or want to join the Quidditch team (yep, we haven’t made that up!), help them along their way with this must-have gift below…

Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm - Bluetooth

Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm - Bluetooth

Ideal for: Students who are looking for a 2-in-1 analogue watch and fitness tracker, those who like to keep connected without their phone

Smartwatches are just as much a fashion accessory as they are a practical piece of kit - and this Samsung Galaxy Watch combines style and sophisticated tech to deliver on all fronts! At first glance, the circular face with a classic analogue style looks like your typical wrist watch, but don’t be fooled by its dapper appearance: delve in a little deeper, and you’ll find this multifunctional accessory is packed with additional, dynamic features. 

When paired with the Samsung Health app, this watch transforms into their own personal trainer that automatically tracks workouts after 10 minutes of activity and measures key metrics, including heart rate. It can even detect different types of activities and can be manually set to track up to 39 different exercises - neat! 

A particularly nifty feature for sleep-deprived students during exam season, this super smartwatch can track sleep quality, monitor stress levels, and even assist with guided breathing. Plus, with an integrated calendar and notifications, even the most forgetful students won’t miss those all-important disso meetings and lectures! Speaking of forgetfulness, the 7-day battery life has got them covered if they forget to pop the watch on charge during the week - perfect! 

But it doesn’t stop there! This watch can be used for contactless payment, to control smart devices, and can even keep them connected to their mates (and mum and dad!) when they’ve lost their phone. Yes, thanks to the integrated speaker and mic, they can make and receive calls and even send texts from their wrist. Plus, it can be connected to all the top music streaming apps, so whether they’re keeping fit or simply wanting to lose themselves in music, this powerhouse has got them covered.

The cuisine connoisseur

three friends cooking in the kitchen

Cooking offers so much freedom and experimentation at uni and, though it may seem daunting in September, it could become your child or relative’s favourite activity at the end of each day. Despite their current interests, the culinary craze is often founded when they have to start fending for themselves (by which point the world is their oyster… literally!). Inspire them to get creative and become cuisine connoisseurs with our selection of advantageous accessories here.

NOSH for Students Cookbook

NOSH for Students Cookbook

Ideal for: Those that are somewhat tentative when it comes to home cooking, students who prefer tactile books to online videos and tutorials

If you’re really stuck for student gifts (no matter what their opinion and skill level when it comes to gastronomy), you certainly can’t go wrong with NOSH, the revolutionary cook book designed to help teens through the initial stages of uni. Slightly more adventurous than its former partner paperback, this edition is perfect for those who crave the simple approach when it comes to cooking, while still wanting to impress their friends and flatmates in the kitchen. So, when no one in the house has weighing scales, or any idea what the meal is supposed to look like, for that matter, this volume could be their next dinner and lunchtime life-saver!

Featuring an assortment of delicious global recipes like risotto, curry, Sunday roasts, couscous, and numerous casseroles, it won’t be long before they’re cooking on gas. Plus, there’s a whole section for vegetarians and vegans too, so whether they’re hosting a vegetable-lover, or have recently decided to adopt this lifestyle themselves, there certainly won’t be any concerns when it comes to meat-free mealtimes. Other chapter headings include: ‘broke but hungry’, ‘one-pot dishes’ (great for longer study days, when piles of washing up are anything but desirable), ‘something mum might cook’, ‘make your own takeaways’, and ‘date night’.

George Foreman Compact Steel Grill

George Foreman Compact Steel Grill

Ideal for: Students that enjoy healthy recipes without compromising on flavour, those who like grilled foods and classic statement designs

If your child isn’t already armed with a George Foreman Grill in their uni appliance arsenal, this is your opportunity to purchase one… trust us, they’ll love you forever! This particular model has become an absolute kitchen essential in the last few years, thanks to its brilliant grilling capabilities and maximum flavour potential, despite being a healthier style of cooking. The three-portion capacity is plenty for even the most starving of students, and the premium red and steel finish is simply gorgeous – it could truly form the centrepiece of their space.

The chic style won’t look out of place in any kitchen, and will seamlessly blend with a wide variety of colour schemes and interior décors. The two non-stick coated plates are quick to heat up, meaning they can enjoy all their favourite snacks and toasties in no time, and provide simultaneous heating on either side of the foodstuff, for incredibly fast results. Ideal for meats, including beef and chicken, as well as fish, vegetables, and tofu, this George Foreman even comes with an attached rear stand for perfectly angled cooking, so their items aren’t constantly swimming in fat. Showcasing a floating hinge, it also ensures an even finish when accommodating larger pieces of meat, and the handy ready-to-cook light indicates when the plates are up to temperature. How nifty is that?!

Bosch Black Tassimo Coffee Machine

Bosch Black Tassimo Coffee Machine

Ideal for: Those that love a shot of caffeine but don’t have the time (nor the inclination) to whip up a fresh brew every morning, students who swoon over the prospect of choice

Coffee can be a staple on a cold winter’s morning at uni, and what better way to save time than with a handy Bosch Tassimo Pod Machine? Help them to speedily and effortlessly create all manner of steamy sensations from the comfort of their kitchen, with delicious drinking concoctions from the likes of Cadbury, Costa, and Twinings. Used in conjunction with any one of the 40 official Tassimo pods, they’ll be able to invent their own delicious recipes to quickly knock up an ultra-tasty treat to kickstart every day. 9am lecture? No problem… this appliance has them covered!

With an easy-to-use one button operation, anyone can activate this practical machine, no matter how late (or early, should we say) they came home the night before. Boasting an innovative flow-through heater, it won’t take an age to warm up, providing any exhausted party-goer with a near-instant hit of energising caffeine when they need it most. Ideal for making multiple cups at once, the height-adjustable stand can also be quickly modified to suit the shape of their favourite glass or mug. For the environmentally-conscious, the Bosch automatically switches to standby mode after every use (in order to save as much energy as possible), providing well-deserved savings on their bills, too!

The social butterfly

group of friends enjoying a social game

University offers a perfect base for students to spread their wings and, if they’re already a social butterfly, these next few months will be filled with new friendships, fun, and boisterous bonding galore. That’s not to say that the slightly more introverted individuals won’t have the same experience, though. With our inclusive items below, everyone will start to feel more comfortable with their comrades and flatmates, no matter how shy or outgoing their personality.

Spin & Shot Roulette Wheel Drinking Game

Spin & Shot Roulette Wheel Drinking Game

Ideal for: Those who love a cheeky tipple, are keen to make friends from the off, and love a spot of spontaneity and risk in their life

As you can probably imagine, drinking games are incredibly popular in the first few weeks of uni. A great way to meet new people, push themselves out of their comfort zones (within limits, of course), and spend some quality time with flatmates, this Spin & Shot example is perfect for casino-themed socials and welcoming celebrations alike. Suitable for up to eight players, there’s plenty of room for everyone to join in… simply give the wheel a spin and drink the shot wherever the ball lands. Simple!

All sixteen crystal glasses are included as standard, which can be filled with any beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) of their choice. What’s more, the set comes with a convenient storage box too, so any stray accessories or pieces can be stowed safely away at the end of the night. A fabulous icebreaker for any casual gathering, it’s sure to get the party started.

What Do You Meme? Party Game

What Do You Meme? Party Game

Ideal for: People who prefer chilled game nights and card sessions with a splash of sophistication

What Do You Meme? is one of the most popular adult card games out there, and it’s not very hard to see why! Thoroughly raucous, rib-tickling, and riotous, it’s perfect for any uni game night, and can truly transform the party atmosphere from drab to undeniably fab in a matter of seconds. Designed to bring the joys of social media memes to the kitchen table, all they’ll need to do is create the funniest combination of photo and caption cards, to eventually become the well-deserved victor. Ideally played with a larger group of friends, this game contains hundreds of risqué examples that are sure to spark plenty of conversations and, of course, lots of laughter, too. 

Picture cards are packed with adorable animals, disconcerted children, and public figures galore, so you can only imagine how broad the humour will be. Especially brilliant for those who may need a little more encouragement when it comes to socialisation (and don’t worry, this is incredibly common among freshers), it can help to inspire and animate conversations over the first week of living away. Plus, it certainly doesn’t have to involve drinking, which is great for the teetotalers out there.

Your university gift guide… Sorted!

mother giving a gift to daughter

We hope you’ve enjoyed this foray through the wonderful world of uni checklist essentials, and now feel better equipped to treat your treasure this summer. Following all the stress of A-levels and exams over the past few months, now is the perfect time to start prepping and preparing for the next big step, and OnBuy couldn’t be happier to help. We all know how daunting the prospect of self-sufficiency and *gasp* independence can be for a fledgling fresher, but with our selection of unique and personal pressies in their academic arsenal, it won’t be long before they’re enjoying all the pleasures this new chapter has to bring! 

Should you require more inspiration, it’s certainly worth taking a look through our extensive blog and buyer’s guide resources. Packed full of friendly tips, tricks, and advice (as well as a plethora of recommendations, of course), on all manner of uni preparation ideas, you’re sure to be left feeling organised, primed, and ready for action, whenever the fateful ‘leaving’ day arrives. Stuck for what to pack pre-move? This piece has everything you need. Looking for the best student laptop, to power your child through lectures? This is the handbook for you. No matter what your concern or confusion, OnBuy is here to guide you through the process.

Congratulations, Class of 2021!

The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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