Making holiday gift choices can be difficult. And if you’ve got college students on your list, choosing something more original than a gift card can be challenging. ’Tis the season to be creative, practical, and proactive in holiday purchasing. If you’re stumped for stocking stuffers, consider giving a different kind of “college prep” gift. While every student should feel comfortable and protected on campus, it’s also important for them to be prepared to maximize their safety. These gift ideas will help them do just that—and prices begin at under $20! Yes, jewelry and high-end electronics are more fun, but an ounce of prevention should make everyone rejoice.
Paper Shredder: College students are credit card application magnets. Every year trusting students toss these materials and others with their personal information into the trash without realizing the potential for identity theft. In fact, Joe Mason, senior vice president of Intersections Inc. and the executive behind IdentityGuard.com, notes that students often don’t realize that their identities have been stolen until after graduation when they are subjected to routine credit checks for employment, credit cards, and mortgages. If your student doesn’t have a shredder in the dorm, consider purchasing a small one to help prevent an identity crisis.
Lock Box: This year, think inside of the box! It’s the perfect place to stash cash, thumb drives, and personal information like passports and social security cards.
Laptop Lock: Replacing a stolen computer is expensive and won’t solve the problems if personal information is stolen and important class projects are lost. Lock in this gift for a little extra security.
Flashlight: Most college kids don’t think about flashlights and D batteries until it’s time to scramble and the shelves are empty. For safety reasons, candles aren’t allowed in college dorms, so grab this stocking stuffer and give the gift of light.
Cell Phone Car Charger: There’s nothing like a power outage to drain your cell phone battery. Whether they’ve got a car or not (someone’s got a car on campus), this inexpensive accessory just might keep you connected in an emergency.
Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is the author of College Bound and Gagged: How To Help Your Kid Get Into A Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind. She speaks and writes extensively about surviving the college-bound process. A clinical psychologist, comic, professor, and parent, she is a blogger for The Huffington Post, USA TODAY College, and the co-host of The College-Bound Chronicles.