What to buy a student for their birthday

What to buy a student gift

It’s an age-old problem, not knowing what to buy someone as a gift.

You want something you know they’ll like, but if their hobbies and favourite films/music are too well known among friends and family, there’s a danger of you rocking up with exactly the same DVD box set or framed photo of Michael Buble that their grandma bought them too!

However, choosing something generic, like a gift set or chocolates, risks looking like you dashed to the nearest Boots at the last minute, which screams “I didn’t actually put much effort into this and it’s a direct reflection of how much I value our friendship”. Even if that isn’t the case, and you know they genuinely love scented shower gels or chilli flavoured chocolate, the whole process can be extremely stressful.

However, fear not, because we at Student Money Saver have compiled a handy guide to buying the student in your life something they are guaranteed to appreciate!

gadget student presents


Students love shiny new stuff, and a constant stream of new video games and iPhones, alongside the increasing availability of virtual reality headsets, means there’s never been more choice when it comes to impressing the student in your life with something snazzy and technical. The price tag can be hefty, but something practical - like a laptop, printer, or tablet computer - can prove a worthy investment if the student you’re purchasing it for is just embarking on their course. If you have less money to spend, smaller gadgets like Chromecasts, external hard drives and headphones are usually well received, too. There are ways to reduce your upfront expenditure, too; consider trade in schemes at PC World and NUS/Unidays discounts.

student gift sale


Students are among the keenest followers of fashion, but the financial constraints of a student loan can be tough. Whatever their style, your student will appreciate something from their favourite high street store, or a dash of luxury from a designer they can’t usually afford. On the other hand, you can play it safe with a gift voucher and let them choose for themselves. Most shops offer their own specific vouchers, but an Arcadia Group card can be used in many places including Miss Selfridge, Topshop/Topman, and plus-size brand Evans, making it a popular choice, while Love2Shop vouchers are accepted by an even wider array of retailers, not just clothing stores.

student gift ideas


With socials and Tinder dates creating never-ending opportunities for making a good first impression, students of all genders are keen to make themselves look, smell, and feel as attractive as possible. In particular, Benefit makeup counters are excellent places to pick up a wide range of beautifully packaged makeup gift sets, and the counter staff can advise on what to buy for a specific skin type or aesthetic, and usually give you a free makeover as part of the selling process. You could take the student with you, treat them to the free makeover, and they can decide which products they want as their actual gift afterwards. Benefit counter staff also tend to be quite generous; I’ve found that the more products I buy, the more free samples they include!


Students know better than anyone the perils of stress and anxiety, meaning an experience gift - like a spa day, driving a race car, having a studio photoshoot, or attending a cocktail making masterclass- could be just what they need! This is a particularly lovely present from a parent or sibling to a student they don’t see very often, as it means spending quality time together doing something fun.Good starting points for ideas are buyagift.co.uk and Red Letter Days. If their favourite band is on tour (and the tickets aren’t too expensive) buying them a pair could also be a sure fire winner.

novelty gifts

Novelty gifts

For the irreverent student who has practically everything they need already, the novelty gift is an acceptable option. Stores such as Menkind, and various Christmas pop-up shops, are treasure troves of quirky games, gadgets, novelty lights (students are famed for stringing fairy lights up in their bedrooms to make it feel more homely!) and unique homeware. Some items can be engraved or personalised in other ways for an added special touch, and you’ll be helping to liven up their potentially dire and drab student accommodation in the process. Not On The High Street is our favourite for really luxury feeling personalised gifts, just have a look.

Of course, this is only a starting point: every student is different and some of us really do like nothing more than a scented body lotion gift set. If you’re still struggling after reading this, you can always ask them if they have an Amazon wishlist, or would consider making one. Items you buy are taken off the list so there’s no danger of more than one person purchasing the same thing, and the recipient can turn off notifications for their list to make sure it’s a complete surprise on the big day.

As a way of topping up on your gifts, you might also be able to score some birthday freebies. Check out our ultimate guide to free stuff on your birthday