College Care Packages Idea Guide

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Fact: being away from your kids is really hard no matter how old they get…but when they go off to college, it can be especially difficult. And not just for you. Sure, your child is probably having the time of their life, but that doesn’t mean a little part of them isn’t missing home. Luckily, there’s a really easy way for you both to cope with the situation at hand: care packages for college students. Alright, you might be envisioning a sturdy box stuffed with baked goods, but we’re here to let you know that care packages are way more versatile than that. So, without further ado, here are some care package ideas that are perfect for college students, especially if they’re…

College Care Package Ideas

…Under the Weather

You’ve taught them well over the last 18-plus years, so they know the basics for treating a sore throat and nursing the seasonal flu, but the supplies that are neatly kept in the medicine cabinet at home probably aren’t kicking around in their dorm room. So send them right supplies with a gift full of everything they need to get better. Thankfully, just about all cold and flu supplies are relatively small, so it’s easy to include basically half of a drugstore in a box. Make sure to pack cough drops, Day and Nyquil, tissues, vitamins, drink mixes, microwaveable soups, and a thermometer. And since no college care packages are complete without movies, make sure to add in some action packed adventures (for boys) or some classic rom-coms (for girls) to get their mind off of how much info they’re missing from their lecture.

Avoid: Being overbearing. Of course you want to take care of them, but calling incessantly won’t help.

…Not Big on Tidiness

Mmm…is that essence of old gym bag we smell? Hey – we get it – college is less about cleaning and more about school and friends, but that stuffy dorm room stench has got to go. Supply them with the things they need to keep their pad smelling like it’s clean even if it’s a germaphobe’s worst nightmare. Since outlets are usually few and far between in dorm rooms, don’t send an air freshener that has to be plugged in. Instead, send spray air fresheners, candles (if they’re allowed), dryer sheets, and some quarters to get them motivated on tackling that pile of laundry in the corner.

Avoid: Making them feel like a slob and overloading them with way too many cleaning products. All of this freedom and responsibility can be a lot to deal with all at once.

…Totally Homesick

Even when we’re well past our mid-twenties, we can miss that unmistakable familiarity of home, so it’s no surprise that your college student is feeling a tad homesick. For a lot of kids, freshman year is the first time that they’re on their own and that can come as kind of a shock. That’s why care packages for college students should include some of the items that they miss most from home. Ideas of what to pack for boys and for girls include slippers, baked goods, fake (but not ugly) plants, and some fresh fruits. Look for ones that ship well, like bananas, and aren’t quite ripe yet, so that they won’t be gross when your kid receives them.

Avoid: Confiding in your note that you’ve got big plans for their old room.

…Stressing About Finals

Even the least studious kids can be found in the lib come the beginning of December, because in college, finals can make or break that GPA. Of course, you can help their cause and make those late night study sessions more productive by sending the right tools. For college finals (and exams in general) care package ideas are basically the same no matter what courses they’re prepping for. Include pens, highlighters, post-it notes, a travel mug, an ample supply of instant coffee, and a flash drive that’s loaded with music. It’ll be great for them to have some new tunes to listen to and the device itself may come in handy.

Avoid: Including anything that will add to their stress levels, like sending them some overdue bills.

…Spending a Holiday Away

While all holidays are hard to spend alone, Christmas is usually the roughest and nothing – not even the most spectacular care package – is going to make it perfect…but it can help make it bearable. You don’t have to go completely overboard, but there are certain jolly staples that should definitely not be overlooked. Try to find a miniature fake Christmas tree, a string of lights, a small stocking, hot cocoa, and a few small presents that are wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning. If they’re permitted to have candles, include a few small ones with Yuletide scents to add that familiar warm-fuzzy feeling to wherever they are.

Avoid: Letting it slip that you’re spending your holiday on vacation in the Bahamas.

…Super Busy

All that partying studying doesn’t really leave them with a boatload of time to pick up the essential drug store items. That’s why a box stocked with toiletry necessities is probably the most popular gift of all for college kids. For what to pack in your college student’s care package, ideas include shampoos, conditioners, body wash, and shaving supplies for both boys and girls. Also include some flip flops for the shower and maybe some small food items, like beef jerky and chips, to hold them over in between meals.

Avoid: Buying brands you know they hate just because they’re inexpensive. College kids may be on a tight budget and used to not having many luxuries, but a care package is a gift after all.

…In Need of Nothing, But You Want to Send Something Anyway

You never ever need an actual reason to send a care package to a college student. Seriously, everyone loves getting mail – especially when it’s a box full of cool things. So, if there’s nothing they’re in desperate need of, include items to help them make the most of those intervals in between classes. Find things like Frisbees, hacky sacks, and some music you think they might enjoy.

Avoid: Things that aren’t really age-appropriate, i.e. stuffed animals.

Lastly, we know that you’d send your kid like a freaking pony if that’s what they wanted, but guess what: heavy things cost a lot to ship. So, tone it down (they’re adults-ish now) and just send the items that are essential. Also, always include a note with your gift and double check to make sure you have the correct address where they can receive their care package.

About the Author:

is the Gourmet Scribe at GourmetGiftBaskets.com, one of the top suppliers of gift baskets in the nation, and currently resides in Manchester, New Hampshire.