As a first-year college student, nothing put a smile on my face, quite like knowing I had one of my mom’s college care packages waiting for me at the dorm. It started with an email from the mailroom saying a box would be available for pick-up that afternoon. It was hard to focus on the differences between classical and operant conditioning that my psychology professor explained when I would rather think about treats from home.
“How does she do it?” I wondered while eagerly munching on some chocolate chip cookies and looking through the rest of the box to see what she had chosen.
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College Care Packages — 50 Favorite Ideas
For the Homesick
The fastest way to make new friends is to share with hall mates, especially treats they can’t get on their meal plan. Homemade is incredible, and I loved getting chocolate chip cookies from my mom.
2. Granola or protein bars
I also love KIND bars and appreciate that she usually sent extras for my friends. KIND bar offers a subscription that lets you select the bars you want to add to your box and pick how frequently you want to send one.
A scent that reminds you of home will cover the smell of your dorm room and make you smile. These Nest Diffusers come in many beautiful scents and will last for the entire fall term.
4. Wall poster of a landmark from home
Dorm room walls are blank slates for every college student to decorate. Don’t forget to throw in a Command Poster Adhesive Strips package so that posters can be put up easily without damaging the walls.
Having a subscription to Amazon Prime is an excellent resource for ordering everything you suddenly realize you need as a student, for free with overnight delivery. Now, students can get a 6-month FREE trial (for new members only) of Prime Student, and it will cost $7.49/month after that.
A subscription to Prime Student comes with loads of perks…free delivery, what you want when you want — including 2-hour grocery delivery.
Stream TV shows, movies, and ad-free music.
Unlimited photo storage and try on clothes before you buy.
Read tons of titles on any device. You can also rent textbooks and save up to 90%.
For the Health-Focused
Working out and eating healthy foods when relying on the cafeteria for most meals can be a challenge, especially as a college freshman. Here are a few ways to help your student stay healthy:
6. Water bottle
I keep a water bottle in my backpack, which is a great way to stay hydrated. There are water stations in many of the buildings on campus, so I can keep it filled, and I never have to buy a plastic one. Hydro Flask water bottles are trendy, come in many sizes, and are available in many colors.
7. Microwaveable oatmeal
It’s easy to make oatmeal if you have a microwave in your dorm room. Quaker Oatmeal is my favorite brand, and it’s so easy to add hot water for a leisurely in-dorm breakfast or snack.
8. New workout gear
I try to work out in my apartment but going for a walk or a run is also great way to stay fit. Lululemon is one of my favorite brands, and it is a real treat to get something new for working out or to hang out in, especially since athleisure is most girls’ favorite way to dress!
Athleta also has great leggings and other athleisure apparel that comes in various sizes, styles, and price points. These leggings with pockets are very comfortable and practical.
It’s not always convenient to wash your hands before grabbing a snack on campus and having one of these 4-ounce bottles in a backpack could come in very handy.
10. Sports bag
A small sports bag to carry gear in is a great care package gift, and Fanatics will have the largest selection you can find anywhere, with official licensing from NCAA and all the pro teams. This small and lightweight bag is all I needed to carry things to the gym and back again.
11. Wireless earbuds
These are a little bit of luxury that any college student would love, and the Jabra Elite brand gets top reviews for earbuds to wear while working out.
For the Fashionista
12. Laptop and phone case decals
The easiest way to express your style is on your laptop as a college student. You bring it everywhere, and even on the mornings when you don’t feel like changing out of sweatpants, your computer can still be well dressed with a cute decal.
13. Hair Ties
They add a pop of color, and you can never have too many!
Kyle Cavan jewelry makes some of the most unique and beautiful jewelry pieces I have ever seen for college students. They have official licensing deals with 100 colleges, but you can always design something personal for your daughter even if her college is not (yet) included on their list. This is a company founded by two young women who have been friends since they were 14, and I love all that they have built.
NOW! Save 15% — Discount Code: GFGRAD22 (expires 7/1/22).
For the Sports Fan
15. T-shirts and sweatshirts in school colors
We can never have enough clothing items with our college logos on them. The campus bookstore is a logical place to shop, but Fanatics has the widest selection of college logo apparel, accessories, etc.
16. Outdoor games
There are ways to get a group together and still practice social distancing outdoors. A corn hole game is a beautiful gift to send if your teen is looking for something to set up on the quad or at a tailgate.
Books for college care packages
17. Do Your Laundry, or You’ll Die Alone: Advice, Your Mom, Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening
Becky Blades is the super-talented author and illustrator who wrote this gorgeous book for her two off-to-college daughters. It is pretty perfect for any college girl.
Harlan Cohen has written the classic book for first-year college students, and this can be the go-to guide for students whenever they encounter a sticky situation.
Admiral William McRaven delivered this graduation address to students at UT Austin, and it became an instant classic. He will encourage and inspire your student through this challenging first semester at college with the simple advice he offers.
This beautiful book, written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy, is filled with warmth and love and will remind your student of family values like kindness, friendship, and home…
Looking for a treat for YOURSELF or to give as a gift for another parent of a teen? Now -The Grown and Flown book is available in paperback!
More ideas for college care packages
We can never, ever have enough new socks. These Notes to Self socks have many positive words to choose from that will remind your son or daughter how proud you are of them.
It can be a shock for guys when they have to buy razor blades for the first time, so slip in a pack for your son or check out Harry’s as a fun and welcome subscription service for guys.
The outlets in most dorm rooms are so far away from our beds that it’s inconvenient to keep a phone plugged in to charge overnight. This one is 10 feet long, charges my phone fast, and is durable.
24. Silly games
My hallmate’s mom ordered yo-yos and paddleball games during midterms, which were fun, stress-reducing toys we loved playing with.
25. Kan Jam
This outdoor game has become very popular as a party game.
26. Seasonal decorations/treats
Easter candy would be a fun gift, especially if you send enough for your student to share with others.
27. String Lights
If your student’s dorm room allows string lights, they are a way to make the room less dingy. There are 10 globe lights on this 8 foot long strand.
29. YETI Mug
Another care package item is a legendary YETI tumbler ad; if you have the time to personalize it with your student’s initials or college logo, this will be a gift your student will love to use for years to come.
30. Therapy Dough
Gift your student a trip down memory lane to the days of squeezing, molding, and shaping dough into anything the heart desired with this grown-up version of therapy putty that provides adult benefits: aromatherapy and stress relief. Available in lavender, pine, orange, or eucalyptus.
Your son or daughter would love this care package from CampusCube, in partnership with Grown and Flown, which includes an assortment of high-quality snacks and a card that can be personalized. And, if you want to do something nice for your mom to thank her for all she did to help you get ready for college, get her the Grown and Flown spa package.
NOW! Save $5 on any care package — Discount Code: GF5
Your daughter will love receiving a collection of these trendy facial sprays.
These stylish, lightweight backpacks can be used every day by your college student and are an updated look to what they might have taken to high school.
34. Lokai Bracelets
These simple bead bracelets are lovely, and the company donates 10% of net profits to charity. There are collaborations with Disney, sports teams, and a collegiate collection!
Use codeword GFFamilyandFriends at checkout for a 20% discount as we are Ambassadors.
Jack Black has a line of lip balms with SPF 25 sunscreen and is available with light flavoring. It is considered a men’s brand but the lip balms are excellent for anyone.
This is my other favorite lip balm for cold weather and I like keeping tubes in my backpack and on my desk.
These necklaces are very pretty and come with inspirational messages.
38. Bluetooth Speaker
The UE Wonderboom 2 gets the highest reviews for a wireless speaker.
Students use their laptops to study for long hours and then scroll through their phones for relaxation before bed. Wearing a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses when staring at their screens might help them fall and stay asleep when they eventually put their phones down. This company makes dozens of highly-reviewed styles that would work well for college guys or women.
My mom always reminded me to wear it so I am never surprised when she includes a bottle in a care package. Here are some of the bestselling sunscreen brands.
41. Nail polish
A gift of Essie Nail Polish in school colors would make for a sporty look for a manicure.
Sometimes guys (and girls) just want to goof around and this fun toy is a great way to do so.
This is so much more than a blow dryer and your daughter will love hers as she styles and dries her hair when she wants to look her best for a class or night out.
44. Allbirds Shoes
These are my favorite shoes and everyone in my family loves their Allbirds, too. There are slip ons, ones that tie, running shoes, and Allbirds made for rainy climates. Plus they sell amazing socks and clothing in the softest fabric.
Popcorn is a low-calorie, high fiber snack and this is an easy to manage microwavable popper.
This reminds me of the Silly Putty I used to play with as a kid.
Replenish their toiletries, including a new toothbrush.
Your kid would be so happy to get an extra few dollars to spend. Everyone loves this!
If they need some lightweight, easy-to-store plates and bowls, this are very cute from Target.
50. Letter from home
Nothing cheers any college student up more than a handwritten letter from home.
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