I’ve always suffered from HBDD: Holiday Big Deal Disorder. It’s not that I feel the need to make every holiday or birthday or special occasion a bit overblown, it’s that I want to.
Let’s put it this way, if themed decorations are involved, so am I. So when my daughter went to college and I was faced with an entire calendar year of holidays she’d miss out on, I knew there was only one solution: I’d have to get the holiday to her. Or at least as much of it as would fit in a box. A box that I’d decorate and fill with themed items, naturally. Looking for birthday gift ideas was also high on my list, especially since this was the first one where she would be away from home.
Sending your college kid a quick, surprise care package box with a few random snacks or mailing an actual card at random intervals throughout the year is always appreciated (getting actual mail is ridiculously exciting for them), but when a special occasion is in play, it’s time to step up to the big leagues and bust out the creativity and old scrapbook supplies you’ve had stacked in your cabinet since you stopped making photo albums when they were in pre-school.
If you’re a member of HBDD, this is your time to shine. If you’re overwhelmed, don’t worry. Here are some ideas to help you send a fun, thoughtful box to mark that special holiday or birthday, because these little boxes of happiness should be as much fun to send as they are to receive. And because taking care of your kids through bags of Hershey’s Kisses when you can’t be there to give them one IRL is just one more way you will now be able to sleep at night.
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Birthday Gift Ideas
Perhaps one of the hardest parts about your college kid not being at home is not being able to share their birthday with them. Packing a fun, celebratory birthday box with treats and gifts for roommates and friends to also enjoy is a great way to make sure they still feel special and, even more importantly, for you to still feel like you’re a part of their big day (you are the OG part of it, after all).
Birthday Gift Ideas
Small mylar balloons (the kind that inflate with a straw)
Inflate balloons (keep small) with small gifts inside (keychains, bottle openers, nail polish, makeup, etc.). They have to pop to get to the gift!
Pre-baked cupcakes and a tub of frosting, decorations, and candles (do not attempt to mail frosted cupcakes – trust me on this)
Confetti cake flavored snacks like Birthday Cake Oreos, pop-tarts, Rice Krispie treats, etc.
Pro-tip: Use fun, colorful filler paper and wrap the outside of the entire box in wrapping paper (then cover in clear packing tape) so the care package itself becomes a huge package.
Fun birthday gift ideas to help them celebrate with friends:
Popular board games for game night:
Holiday College Care Packages
Holidays are the easiest and most fun themed boxes to send. Why? Two words: holiday candy.
College kids love Halloween. They can finally dress in a non Mom-censored costume. To help keep you in denial about what sexy professional they’re dressing up as, send a box of rated-G classics to balance things out.
If you’re sending candy, make sure to buy in large quantities, like this big bag of chocolates so they can share with everyone around them.
Other ideas (besides candy):
Black lights (or orange lightbulbs) to make their room spooky
Inexpensive wigs, funny glasses, or other small costume accessories
Halloween socks, tights, leggings, boxers, and t-shirts
Fun idea: Use cotton spider webs for box filler!
Your kid will most likely be home for Christmas or Hanukkah, but that doesn’t mean you can’t send a box of decorations and fun surprises a few weeks beforehand. Want to prolong the fun? Wrap each item separately (even small things like Tic-Tacs and gum) and have them open one every few days until it’s time to come home.
The Valentine’s Day box was always the most fun for me to send, and yes, it is definitely because I have a daughter. One year we had a group of four moms get together for a care package party. Each of us brought a few inexpensive items (four of each item) and had a blast filling and decorating the boxes with all kinds of silly things our girls probably didn’t need or even want. (It’s called overcompensation; you’ll get used to it.)
Easy ideas for all holiday boxes:
Window clings and other portable, lightweight décor (think things that don’t need Command Hooks)
Holiday themed socks, leggings, boxers, or pajamas
Birthdays and holidays might be occasions when you think your college kid is in dire need of extra love and attention from home, but the week leading up to finals is really when those homemade cookies and comfort items are the most vital.
Here are some great ideas of things to send to perk your kid up and give him the extra oomph to make it through the week.
To ease their stress and anxiety: aromatherapy oils &/or diffuser; face masks; lotion; soft socks, throw blankets or slippers; sleep masks; gift cards to coffee shops; fun magazines; fidget toys; coloring books; crayons or markers; Thinking Putty
For test day: gum; mints; candy (“Keep on Rollin’” on a bag of Rolos); gift cards for a post-final lunch or coffee;
Still stuck for ideas? Don’t panic! No matter the reason or the season, Grown & Flown has your back. Check out our Amazon page full of ideas!