The fall semester is college care package season and there’s nothing that makes our kids happier than fetching a box from the mailroom to see what treats have arrived from home. Parents send reminders of their love and, when we pack dozens of freshly-baked cookies or send a few small gifts, we give our kids the joy of sharing with roommates and hallmates.
Our list is based on what our own kids have told us they love and also includes some wonderful ideas from Grown and Flown Parents, our Facebook Group which we would love you to join (if you haven’t already.)
Here’s our list, please add your creative ideas in the comments below.
College Care Package Ideas Your Kids Will Love
College dorm “cooking” is very basic since most students are limited to a microwave and a mini-fridge, and have minimal space for prep or storage. We spied these adorable CorningWare Pop-Ins which, at 20 ounces, are big enough to hold an entire meal. They come with tops that prevent food from splattering while letting out steam and are sold in an array of beautiful colors, too.
Oatmeal Bar with Toppings
Who knew that oatmeal had become such a trendy food? Whether you send your kid a great new mug to cook it in (see above) or pack a few single-serve cups of oatmeal from this long list, make sure and include a variety of toppings – nuts, granola, raisins, seeds, dried fruit, coconut, cinnamon – to take oatmeal from blah to yummy.
There are few things that cause us to worry more than concerns about our kid’s safety. Revolar is a small device that can be tucked into a pocket, inside clothing or attached to a keychain. It allows a student to alert friends and family (and send her location via GPS) with two pushes of a button should she feel any concerns or three+ times if she is more fearful. It’s easy to set up – your student can download an app and follow the instructions to add five contacts – has no monthly fee and is waterproof.
To quote our friend’s son, “Yeti is blowing up.” This super-hot, Austin-based brand is wildly popular with with the college and young adult set. Yeti began making coolers with a legendary ability to keep ice frozen for days. They have branched out with the Yeti Coolers Rambler Tumbler that is equally awe-inspiring. Your kid will love pouring coffee into a Yeti cup and having it stay hot, really hot, all day long. Take a look at their site to see if your student’s college is included in this list so you can order a Rambler with the school logo etched into the cup.
Insulated Water Bottle
There is no shortage of water bottle brands on the market; S’ip by S’well Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottleis the one my college daughter loves and uses every single day. Cold liquids stay cold for 24 hours (or hot for 12 hours) which means she never has to waste money on a plastic water bottle while she’s on the go from class to the gym and back to her apartment again. They come in a gorgeous colors, designs and sizes, holding 9, 17 or 25 ounces.
Yes, you probably suggested to your kid that they pack an umbrella when they were getting ready for school but, if it slipped through the cracks, now’s the time to send one like this Lightweight Travel Umbrella that can be slipped into a backpack.
When I pick up a bag of Hershey’s Miniatures for a care package, I am transported back to the sweet days when my kids dressed up like super heroes and witches, we decorated the house inside and out, and I deluded myself into thinking the tiny bites of Halloween candy had zero calories. Ok, I still do the last thing. This year, I’m sending two bags of chocolates, determined not to open either before I slip them in the mail.
There are vast selections of protein bars and you know which ones your kids like the most. Our family favorites are KIND Bars which I often handed to my kids, relay style, as they ran out the door during their high school years. Send a box of your kid’s favorite bars as a reminder to tuck one into their backpack before leaving for the day.
Lisa’s son fits his sports gear into one of these very lightweight and washable packs to take to the gym. This design, Adidas Alliance II Sackpack, comes in dozens of colors and has a zipper pocket to stash a phone, cash or ID keycard.
Get Well Wishes
College kids living in close dorm quarters often get sick and they miss having their parents nearby to help them through a bad cold or the flu. Consider sending them some get well items (proactively) and include small packs of kleenex, Herbal Teas, throat lozenges, lip balm, and the cold remedies you might have forgotten in the first aid kit. And oh, yes, remind them to get a flu shot, too.
Socks, Underwear and Laundry Wash Bag
It is virtually impossible for us to keep the sock monster at bay in our own homes and, by the second month of school, your college student may be missing socks or undergarments, too. Pack some new socks, undershirts or underwear and consider adding a lingerie bag to help them keep track of their smaller things in the wash.
The most popular of all care package items, cash is always a great gift. Take the time to pick out a funny card or write a note of encouragement and tuck the bills into the letter. Your student will read every word.
Extra Long Cell Phone Charge Cord
The power cords that come with phones are just a little over three feet long. This one, 3Pack 10FT/3M Extra Long Nylon Braided Charge Cable Cord Charger, long enough to stretch from wall outlet up to the elevated bed, comes in a pack of three. Kids will be able to use their phones as alarm clocks and wake up to with a device that’s fully charged.
When you said goodbye to your teen, they had a freshly made bed and plastic storage bins stuffed with all the toiletries they needed for the first of the school year. But a month in, they will welcome additional supplies of razors, body lotion for the colder and drier weather, lipstick in your daughter’s preferred shade, or a sunscreen stick for sunny football games. Consider packing a roll or two of double-ply toilet paper to replace the too-thin paper in the communal bathroom. If nothing else, it makes perfect packing material!
Skinny Pop’s a healthier alternative to chips with 100 calories, no sugar, low sodium and two grams of fiber. In addition to the unflavored popcorn, Skinny Pop comes in a variety of flavors including chocolate and jalepeno. If you buy single serve sizes, slip them into the extra spaces in your care package to keep all the contents snug.
Gift Cards for Food and Drink
A Starbucks Gift Card for a college care package is a super practical addition because, with nearly 24,000 locations worldwide, it’s easy for your kid to find a nearby shop. Look into gift cards for a favorite pizza place or sushi restaurant which would be a very welcome alternative to the dining hall. When you print out the menus for restaurants that deliver to the dorm and include a gift card, your kid and their friends will be very appreciative.
Gift Cards for Clothes
College students have to dress up for job fairs, interviews, and internships and assembling a wardrobe of a few nice outfits can be expensive. However, shopping at stores that give college discounts can be a smart strategy. Consider a gift card to J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic and these other stores so they can shop and save 15% when they use their student IDs.
Gift Card for the College Bookstore
The college bookstore is an on-campus emporium with so much more than books. Depending on the size of your kid’s school, the bookstore is an easy place for necessities, snacks, college logo gear, gifts, and, of course, books.
Speaking of books….Part of the excitement with being a college student is getting to know both the campus and the surrounding area. While not every city has it’s own Lonely Planet guidebook, take a look to see if your kid’s town, region or study abroad destination (if they have upcoming plans to travel) are listed.
Midterm Stress Busters
Toys that students can play with in their dorms or bounce down long hallways are fun ways to take the edge off of studying. We like Puffer Squishy Balls, Paddle Ball Games and this Light-Up Air Power Soccer Disk.
Adding a little personal flair to a laptop is easy with a gorgeous design. This one, by Love Decal, caught our eye but there are many, many designs to choose from.
These are the cheerful little papers that kids can stick on their dorm room walls for reminders, use as bookmarks, or spread a little joy like these kids did in this high school. Post-it Notes, with their bright colors and utility, are little squares of happiness from home.
If you’ve not already signed up your kid for Amazon Student, this is an ideal time to do so as it is FREE for the first six months (half price after), offers two-day FREE shipping and has a bunch of other lesser-known benefits. Include an Amazon.com Gift Card and they can find absolutely anything else they need for the rest of the semester.
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