Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening — is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year? — but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that tween girl, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust — or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 12 college students on the gifts they want for the holidays.
“My holiday list is usually pretty specific, based on items actually found online. I have a lot of clothes on this list, I think a style upgrade is a priority for me this year. I want to get some new, more sophisticated boots than the beat-up ones I have now.” — John Grund, sophomore, Savannah College of Art and Design
“A pocket knife. If I had to be specific, I would choose the SwissChamp in hardwood. I feel like there will inevitably come a time when having a multipurpose tool like this would come in handy, especially when traveling.” — Justin Lee, senior, Brown University
“I like to keep track of my runs. To be completely honest, I find that people my age are looking less for material items during the holiday times. I feel most of my friends and colleagues are really looking for experiences —items like sushi-making class or a day trip somewhere.” — Maxx Grossman, junior, Tufts University
“[These are] quality but portable. I often finding myself wanting to play music for a party or while hanging out with friends. I bought a cheap pair on Amazon, but the quality is poor. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for with speakers.” — Maxx Grossman
“I think my holiday wish list would be a new camera because I love making videos, so having something smaller and easier to transport would be awesome. My dream would be the Sony Alpha A9, but it costs quite a bit so most likely not. I think a Sony Rx100 Mark V.” — Howard Lin, fifth-year senior, University of Florida
“I actually need it for my teeth. Teeth are super important. Actually, there’s a huge correlation between gum disease and dying, and also, the condition of your gums and your teeth does predict a lot. So you might as well keep it healthy. I think it’s an underrated thing that people don’t pay attention to, and it’s actually really important … Or maybe I’m just a hypochondriac, and I’m afraid of dying.” — Sachi Dootson, senior, Smith College
“Wireless headphones. These are useful when working out or doing busywork or chores, because you don’t have a cord connecting the headphones to your phone so you can move about more easily. Also good since the new iPhones don’t have headphone jacks.” — Ashley Lee, sophomore, Brown University
“I personally want all the musical cast albums in the world. The reason is: I need songs to play on my radio show. [And] there are so many musicals out there I want to listen to but don’t want to pay money to have at my fingertips. The ones in particular are any by Andrew Lloyd Webber: I don’t particularly like him, I feel like I should own his work, but I don’t want to spend money to get them.” — Kenjiro Lee, sophomore, University of Chicago
“The best thing about college is the fact that I can take naps. I am a daily napper. This throw blanket is perfect when I don’t want to mess up my bed and want a quick, cozy cover-up.” — Rebecca Lee, sophomore, Brown University
“There are so many times I’ve needed to get home or call an Uber but couldn’t because my phone died. Studying abroad in a new country has only exacerbated that need.” — Rebecca Lee
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.