While the future is still uncertain, some schools and universities are already prepping for the 2020-21 school year, even if they’re not physically opening in the fall. And if the student in your life is feeling a little down about the end of summer vacation, why not raise their spirits with a thoughtful back-to-school gift!
Sure, in the time of COVID, school is a virtual and altogether different place. But, whether your student is in the classroom or on the couch, there are plenty of things they’ll need to succeed in the coming year. These gifts can range from the practical (laptops for work and headphones for focus) to the playful (neon lights for decor to video games for some much-needed distraction).
We’ve put together this list of useful gifts for new and existing students alike. Even if your student is commuting to class from their bedroom, they’ll be sure to appreciate the gifts we have in our list of the best back-to-school gifts of 2020.
1. Microsoft Surface Laptop 3
These days, every high schooler and college kid needs a laptop to do research and complete their homework assignments. Give your scholar a hand with the Microsoft Surface Laptop 3. This technologically advanced 2020 model is up to two times faster than the outdated Surface 2 and boasts Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of memory. The screen is 13.5 vibrant inches and the battery will last all day long with 11+ hours of video playback. This computer will do everything a student needs and more.
2. CHEF iQ Multi-Functional Smart Pressure Cooker
BEST FOR COOKING
College students aren’t usually known for being gourmet cooks, but instead of living off instant noodles and mac ‘n cheese every night. So for a useful back-to-school consider giving them a pressure cooker to add some much-needed versatility to the mix. With an impressive 300 different pre-sets, all they need to do is simply add the ingredients, configure the settings and in a few hours they’ll be greeted with a delicious and, hopefully, nutritious, home-cooked meal. Sure, you can’t stop them from eating week-old pizza, but you can give them a few more options.
3. Newest Nintendo Switch Lite
Now back in stock (though for how long, we cannot say), the Nintendo Switch Lite offers all the fun of the original Switch in a handheld-only form. It’s great for on-the-go gaming and taking a break from studying when class is just too much. We like the Lite version because it’s easy to pick up and play for a bit and then set back down when it’s time to hit the books.
4. Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones
BEST FOR MUSIC LOVERS
If your student likes listening to music while they study, walk to school or work out, these Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones deliver high-quality sound as well as an easy way to block out the rest of the world. They’re available in a range of different colors and can be folded down on themselves for easy storage when they aren’t in use. The headphones come with a handy carrying case and the internal rechargeable battery provides up to 40 hours of playback from a single charge.
5. Tile Sticker (2020)
Easily the smartest and easiest way to keep tabs on belongings, the Tile is a tiny little sticker your student can place on practically anything —from smartphones to bikes to TVs. In addition to adding a Bluetooth tracker, this handy little device also lets your student ping your gadgets within a 150-foot radius. Can’t find the car keys? Use the Tile to give ‘em a ring. Wondering what happened to that old bike? Let the Tile track it down. Each purchase comes with two stickers, but you may want to order a few more if your student is of the forgetful variety. Truly, when it comes to back-to-school gifts, this is one of the best.
6. Anker Wireless Charger
BEST WIRELESS CHARGER
Staying connected is more important than ever — especially when students are far from home, and there’s no better (or easier) way to keep all those devices full of juice than with this wireless charger. Designed to work with more recent(ish) iPhone and Galaxy models, as well as Airpods, the Anker is one of the most popular wireless chargers on the market, and for good reason: its simple functionality means all you have to do is plug it in, place your device on top and voila.
7. Cards Against Humanity
BEST PARTY GAME
What better way to destress and make new friends than by playing one of the most embarrassing and outrageous card games of all time? Cards Against Humanity’s whole spiel is that it’s a party game for horrible people, and while your student doesn’t need to be a bad person to enjoy, it’s definitely on the raunchier side of games. There are tons of expansions that range from vintage 80s pop culture to nerd nostalgia, but this starter pack is more than enough to help break the ice.
8. Lemome Academic Planner
BEST FOR ORGANIZATION
Although the trend is to do all things digital these days, students can massively benefit from a physical academic planner. These books can help with time management, productivity and stress relief. If those are some things your student needs, you can’t beat the Lemome Academic Planner as a back to school gift. This beautiful planner boasts a faux leather cover and monthly, weekly and daily sections as well as over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon.
9. INIU Portable Charger
BEST FOR THE SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTED
For the social media addicted or anyone who uses their electronics with regularity throughout the day, it’s obvious how short the average phone’s battery life can be. Students, especially, can feel this pain as they sit in classes all day without access to a plug socket. That’s why any student who knows what’s good for them has a portable charger. These devices have the ability to charge electronics on the go. The INIU Portable Charger, in particular, can charge an iPhone three times over at a rate four times faster than many other charging options.
10. Leaper Retro Messenger Bag
The Leaper Retro Messenger Bag provides a stylish way to get your student’s everyday essentials to and from school. The washed canvas material is both soft and durable while inside you’ll find a more luxurious cloth for added protection. As well as the single over-the-shoulder strap, the bag features a top-mounted handle for an extra carrying option. This messenger bag is also available in over 15 different colors and includes a side pocket, two under-flap slots and a magnetic, snap-button closure for a secure ride between classes.
11. Avantree Neetto Adjustable Laptop Table
BEST FOR HOMEWORK IN BED
Sometimes there’s work to be done but your student won’t want to get out of bed. Thankfully, with the Avantree Neetto Adjustable Laptop Table, they won’t have to. They can combine the two tasks for a comfortable, bed/workspace or, alternatively, use the tray table as a dinner tray for eating dinner and watching TV. The fully adjustable legs can fold under the table for a lap-resting option. Plus, it’s available in two different color options and made from lightweight materials for maximum portability.
12. Cooluli Mini Fridge
BEST FOR ALL-NIGHT STUDY SESSIONS
Whether it’s an all-night study session or an all-night party, this Cooluli Mini Fridge is the perfect addition to a dorm room. The small refrigerator will ensure students always have a cold soda, an energy drink or a beer (for the 21+) waiting for them. The fridge can be mounted on a shelf or on the floor and has a capacity big enough for six small cans.
13. Amped & Co. Neon Headphones Light
BEST DORM ROOM DECOR
If you’re sending your student off to college for the first time, giving him or her a bit of dorm room decor would be a nice touch. This slick headphone lamp is made from genuine neon gas-filled tubes, a rarity in today’s LED-filled world. At 13.9 inches tall, this neon sign adds a fun and funky theme to any desk or table space.
14. JBL Flip 4 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker
BEST FOR THE PARTIER
For music lovers, students on the go and pretty much anyone who enjoys having a soundtrack for their daily life, there’s no better gift than a portable Bluetooth speaker. And while there are loads of cheaper options available on Amazon, you can’t really beat the quality and functionality of the JBL Flip 4. It’s waterproof, features impressive stereo sound and boasts an impressive 12 hour of playtime battery life.
15. Jaxx Six Foot Cocoon Bean Bag Chair
Dorm rooms and high school bedrooms don’t tend to have a lot of seating options, yet young students need somewhere to hang out, play video games or study lazily. If they don’t have one already, a bean bag chair can solve a lot of furniture conundrums for the younger generation, making it one of the best back-to-school gifts. This Jaxx Six Foot Cocoon Bean Bag Chair is highly rated on Amazon and is so comfortable, your student might find him or herself sleeping in it.