clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Back to School 2019 gift guide collage, with build-a-bear Psyduck in the middle. Also featuring Switch accessories, Game Boy-themed sweater, Ant-Man poster, Stranger Things Polaroid camera, and a board game with dice

Filed under:

Polygon’s 2019 back to school gift guide

Who said school supplies have to be boring?

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

As September fast approaches, it’s time to shake off those summer cobwebs and start thinking about school again. Whether they’re heading back to their alma mater, starting fresh on a new campus, or even just taking a few classes online, now’s a great time to show the students in your life that you have their back.

Below, we’ve rounded up some back to school essentials students will actually enjoy, including upgraded gear, unique school supplies, dorm room decorations, and just fun stuff to help them relax between classes and make new friends.

What are you looking for?

Subscriptions Gear Devices Games Swag Decorations Books

How much do you want to spend?

$ $$ $$$

Earth Break

Survive an apocalypse-themed escape room without leaving your dorm room (and listen to the tie-in podcast starring Jenny Slate.) $30/month

Sn30 Pro+ Switch gamepad

8Bitdo's latest wireless controller combines retro style with modern tech — and a real D-pad. $49.99

Scuf Vantage Controller

Scuf’s customizable PS4 controllers are favored by none other than avid gamer Aubrey Drake Graham. Starts at $169.95

Nintendo Switch Lite

Pre-orders are open for the long-awaited handheld-only Switch console, which will launch on Sept. 20. $199.99

Masks: A New Generation

This RPG about teen superheroes is a ton of fun even if you're not a teen and don't have super powers. $29.99

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Microsoft's new subscription combines Xbox Game Pass with Xbox Live Gold. $14.99/month

Toshiba 4K TV - Fire TV Edition

An entry level 4K TV with built-in Fire TV is perfect for dorm rooms. $249.99

The Chameleon

This party game is like Codenames meets Werewolf. $19.99

Pink PC accessories

Razer's Quartz line of pink PC accessories includes a highly instagrammable headset with cat ears. Starts at $19.99

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon's thinner, lighter, waterproof Kindle Paperwhite can be tossed in any backpack. $129.99

Vaporwave Nintendo hoodies

LA-based company Public Space is known for its Vaporwave-style designs; its retro gaming line features some super cute Nintendo and PlayStation hoodies.

Bionik Audio Sync Bluetooth adapter

One of the few solutions for using wireless headsets with the Nintendo Switch. $39.99

Screenprinted film posters

Mondo's hand numbered screenprinted film posters are way more interesting dorm decor than another Scarface poster. Starts at $40

Acer Predator Helios 300

Acer's Predator Helios 300 is powerful enough for gaming but slim and lightweight enough to take to class. $999.99

Xbox One S Fortnite Bundle

Come for the ~ aesthetic ~, stay for the Victory Royale. $299

Stranger Things Polaroid camera

Stranger Things marketing brought back the best parts of the 80s. $142.19

Arctis 3 Bluetooth headset

Our pick for best gaming headset for Nintendo Switch. $99

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Teach students at fake school while going to real school.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke Book: Great Guffaws for Gryffindor

Amuse your friends with such gems as: What do you call a student in Professor Sprout's class? "Herb" $7.99

Game On!: Video Game History from Pong and Pac-Man to Mario, Minecraft, and More

Game developer Dustin Hansen wrote this YA book about the history of gaming. $8.10

Logitech K400 Plus wireless TV keyboard

Watching TV from your PC is made a lot easier with a wireless keyboard. $24.99

Pokémon Build-A-Bear

It's the closest you can get to being a real Pokémon trainer — for now. Starts at $55

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Creating a Champion Hero's Edition

The deluxe slipcase edition of the Breath of the Wild art book would be a welcome addition to any bookshelf. $60.10

Bewildered Psyduck varsity jacket

You don't need to be the captain of any team to rock this adorable varsity jacket. $54.99

Aggretsuko mouse pad

Depending on how your day's going, it might be nice to channel Aggretsuko at your desk every now and then. $10.45

Star Wars tote bag

Tired: character backpacks Wired: character tote bags $25

Blue Yeti microphone

Because starting a podcast in college is a new rite of passage. $129.99

Waterfield Switchpack

A fancy Switch case is the perfect gift if you're going for a mix of classy and fun. $129

Toy Story cosmetics bag

Take your toiletries to the hall bathroom with style. $13.93

SpongeBob SquarePants lunch sack

Unfortunately your lunch will probably not be as delicious as a Krabby Patty, but one can dream. $15.92

Harry Potter duvet cover

Pottery Barn's duvet cover printed with patronuses is a little bit more subtle than typical character sheets. $69

Gryffindor S'well bottle

Don't forget to stay hydrated on your way to Potions. $19.99

Dr. Seuss Moleskine planner

More useful than that Dr. Seuss book everyone gets at graduation, but equally sweet. $27.95

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Bluetooth speaker

Liven up any party with this small-but-powerful speaker. $149.94

FreezerBoy dry-erase refrigerator magnets

Turn your mini-fridge into a GameBoy minus, you know, the games. $19.99

Super Mario Chess

Challenge your roommates to a game of chess — if you lose, move on to Smash Bros. $46.23

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon