Gift-giving is always a challenge, especially when you want your gift to matter. It steps onto the next level of difficulty when you intend to buy gifts for college students. They tend to be picky and always specifically want something. Not meaning to generalize, students have endless items on their wishlists, and most of the time, these gifts are deemed impractical and way too expensive.

But fret not, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to give them something they’ll appreciate. After all, practical gifts are always welcome. Students aren’t snob that they’ll completely ignore your gifts if they aren’t in your bucket list. Though a membership on seems to be a good choice, it’s not something they’ll actually be thrilled about. The key here is to think of things they actually need and they’ll most probably like. To make your job easier, below are some of the things students will most definitely appreciate:

1. Books by their favorite authors

Be it a graphic novel or a thousand-page autobiography, every student will have that one author they like. Works by John Green and David Levithan are popular choices among students. It doesn’t just have to be from their favorite authors, too. Just look at their interests and you’ll see which books will fit them. If they like music, a photobook of their favorite band will be dearly loved. If they like art or photography, maybe one of the published books by National Geographic will interest them.

2. Educational travel tours

If you’re a parent or a rich aunt, you’ll definitely be loved by the student if you happen to choose this as a gift. Traveling can be fun and exciting for young folks, and students will do anything to get out of the city for free. While you’re at it, try to make it as educational as possible by signing them up on historical or cultural tours. Traveling is one of the best ways to learn, and this is probably the best gift you can give.

3. Perfect school bag

It’ll be silly to give school supplies as gifts, but a great school bag is just what every student needs. Of course, make sure it’s in a style and functionality that they need. After all, girls and guys have different styles and different sets of activities, too. Find one that will fit their lifestyle as students and personality. It’s all about the personalization of your gifts.

4. Laptop, tablet or e-book reader

Learning has gone incredibly digital the past few years. Research papers need to be type-written and readings are read through their portable gadgets. An e-book reader will come in handy especially if they need to read essays on the go. They can bring their readings and schoolwork with them as long as they have these gadgets. Though some may deem it impractical, students really need to get with the times.

5. Gift cheques

The fail-safe choice to make is giving gift cheques. You completely leave it to the student to decide what they want. It seems a bit impersonal, but this way, you don’t have to worry too much if they’ll like it. Though it seems as if it’s just cash, you at least put an effort into obtaining one. Also, instead of general gift cards, opt for ones that are store-specific.

Though the easiest way to make sure that they’ll appreciate your gift is by asking them first, the element of surprise in gift-giving is still important. Getting to know the culture of these college kids is a great way to know if you’re giving the right gift.

Dorothy Hunter is a freelance writer from NYC. She’s in search of a grand adventure as she pens one essay at a time. She enjoys traveling as much as she enjoys a good book.