How to Make Your Next College Care Package the Best Yet

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.)

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Best College Care Package Ideas

Microwavable Containers  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 Meal Mug 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.


Prime Student  A subscription to Amazon Prime for students may be THE very best thing you can surprise your kid with in a college care package and it is FREE for the first 6 months.  They can order almost anything with 2-day FREE delivery and there are tons of other features that are also FREE.  There are few bargains for college kids – this is definitely one.

Slippers Dorm floors will soon be chilly with coming cold weather and these are the absolute cutest slippers. Suppose your daughter with  Unicorn Slippers that LIGHT UP and are sure to attract attention and envy.

college care package ideas

Extra Power The last thing you want as a college student is to have your cell phone die on you.This Jackery Bolt Power Bank gets high marks from the NYTimes Wirecutter reviewers. Charges a dead phone in a faster speed than many other portable chargers.

power bank

Yeti Ramblers 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.


Insulated Water Bottle There is no shortage of water bottle brands on the market but Hydro Flask is one of the most popular. 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.

hydro flask

Travel Umbrella 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 Travel Umbrella that can be tucked into a backpack.


Chocolates 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.

College care package ideas

Protein Bars 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.


Drawstring Backpack 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 (we LOVE Darn Tough socks) t-shirts,  or underwear and consider adding a lingerie bag to help them keep track of their smaller things in the wash.


Cash 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.  Your teen will be able to use their phone as an alarm clocks and wake up to with a device that’s fully charged with this Anker 10 foot charging cable. 

Replenish Supplies 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, Moisturizing Lotion for the colder and drier weather, lip balm (we love Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm

burts bees lim balm

and Jack Black Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25

jack black limp balm

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  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 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.

Guide Book 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.


Now – The Grown and Flown book is available! Perfect treat for parents of high school and college students.

grown and flown book

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 BallsPaddle Ball Games and this Light-Up Air Power Soccer Disk.


Laptop Art Adding a little personal flair to a laptop is easy with a gorgeous design. This one, by Love Decalcaught our eye but there are many, many designs to choose

Post-It Notes 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.

College care package ideas - post-it-notes

Photo Credit: Janet Wall, Smiles from Home college care packages

You Might Also Enjoy Reading:

College Care Packages From Home: 50 Great Ideas

Family Weekend: Do’s and Don’ts on Visiting Your Kid in College

How to Help Your Freshman When They Are Homesick  

Do you want the best ideas for college care packages? Then this is it! Make your next college care package the best one yet with these awesome ideas that every college student would be excited about. #college #collegelife #carepackageideas #carepackages #collegecarepackage










About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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