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CMN’s Gift Guide for College Students

🎁Where to get student discounts for all of your last-minute gifts.



With the holiday festivities quickly approaching now is crunch time for those last-minute gifts. If you’ve been stumped on what to get — and how much to spend — here are some suggestions for places to use your college student discount and find gifts for the friends and family in your life. Leave a comment telling us what your favorite student discount is!

For the Parents

Often parents are the most difficult item on the list when it comes to gifts. You want to get them something nice, but not so nice that you’ll have to skip a few meals when you get back to school. The key to shopping for your mom or dad is to hit the sale rack (or tab) and shop the smaller items from the bigger brands.

  • At J. Crew students get a 15% off discount — check out the accessories for a nice, yet inexpensive, gift for mom or dad.
  • If you’re looking for a more literary gift for your parent, you can get a 15% discount on Book Outlet through Student Beans.
  • Acts of service are always a great gift, and what better way is there to help out than to offer to go grocery shopping for you parents — or at least offer to have Instacart do it for you. Although not strictly a student discount, Instacart is offering free grocery delivery for the first 14 days when you sign up.

For the Siblings

When getting gifts for siblings, the key to the perfect gift is quality time. Don’t get them something that your parents could easily get, but get them something that means you can all spend time together.

  • With spring around the corner, holiday gifts are a perfect way to prepare for spending a little bit of time outdoors. Check out college discounts at L.L. Bean and Nike for a little outdoorsy item like a hat or a water bottle.
  • A lot of national movie theater chains have student ticket prices, including AMC Theatres, Cinemark, and Regal Cinemas. Tell your siblings that you’ll treat them to a movie coming out over winter break. (We’re personally looking forward to Mary Poppins Returns). If you’re not near any of the major chains, be sure to check your local theater for what your student ID will get you.
  • For siblings, it’s nice to gift something that all of you can do together. Get 20% off at Joann Fabric and Craft Store for a fun holiday project for the family. Not much for crafting? They’ve got you covered.

For the Friends

Friends are usually the easiest to find gifts for, especially those you go to school with. Since both of you are likely broke (#studentloans), a good option is to say you’ll pick up the tab the next time you need a midnight snack at the library. But for something a little more special, here are some ideas that are memorable but won’t break the bank.

  • A Costco student membership, is a great gift for a roommate or any friend. If you verify that you’re a student through UNiDays, the regularly priced $60 membership comes with a $20 cash card. Just don’t forget to mention that you will be going grocery shopping with them from now on.
  • If you’re looking for jewelry, try Alex and Ani. The site has 15% for students and quite a few options for best friends.
  • You can get student discounts on Amtrak and Greyhound. Pick a destination for a weekend or even one day to get away from campus for a fun friends outing!

For Yourself

These winter months can be a whirlwind. It’s the end of the fall semester, finals are wrapping up, and now comes the last-minute scramble for gifts. Remember it’s ok to spend a little money on yourself (especially when you’re saving so much on discounts).

  • Amazon Prime Student is a must have, if you haven’t invested in it already. Although it comes with a fee of $6.49 a month, it’ll pay for itself quickly if you use it for textbooks, school supplies, and of course holiday gifts. (Plus, you get the first six months free.)
  • If you’re looking to spend a little hard-earned money on yourself, you can get Spotify Premium, Hulu, and Showtime for only $4.99 a month. We’ll call it self care.
  • This discount is probably one that all you student journalists know, but the New York TimesWashington Post, Wall Street Journal, and The New Yorker offer student rates. Take this winter break to treat yourself and read up on the news.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Grace Cooper is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where she studied Nonfiction Writing and Psychology. When she's not obsessively reading or writing about the news, you can probably find her eating too much pizza and watching When Harry Met Sally for the hundredth time.

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