College Care Packages From Home: 50 Great Ideas

As a freshman, 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 was explaining 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

1. Favorite treats from home.

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 wonderful but I also love KIND bars too, and appreciate my mom packing extras for friends. In fact, KIND bar offers a subscription lets you select the bars you want to add to your box and pick how frequently you want to send one. NOW:

kind bar box

2. Diffuser.

A scent that reminds you of home will both cover the smell of your dorm room and make you smile. These Nest Diffusers  come in so many wonderful scents.

Nest diffuser

3. Wall poster of a landmark from home.

Dorm room walls are blank slates for every college freshman to decorate. Don’t forget to throw in a package of Command Poster Adhesive Strips so that posters can be put up easily without damaging the walls.

command strips

4. Prime Student.

Having a subscription to Amazon Prime is a great resource for ordering all the things you suddenly realize you need as a student.  You can order ANYTHING on Amazon, with 2-day FREE delivery, or download movies and books for FREE for the first 6 months.

For the Health-Focused

Trying to work out and eat 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:

5. 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 very popular, come in many sizes and are available in lots of colors.

hydro flask

6. Microwaveable oatmeal.

It’s easy to make oatmeal if you have a microwave in your dorm room. Quaker Oatmeal is my favorite brand and this box offers four flavors, with less sugar and fewer calories than some of the others.

Quaker Oatmeal

7. New workout gear.

I try to work out in my apartment since my gym is still closed but going for a walk or a run are also great ways to stay fit. Lululemon is one of my favorite brands and it is a real treat to get something new for working out or just to hang out in, especially since we are all wearing athleisure wear 24-7.

Lululemon leggings

8. Fitness face mask.

Finding a mask that your student can work out in might not that be that easy but I love the masks from Athleta that come in a pack of three. They have adjustable straps and the fabric is soft and breathable for everyday wear, too.  Athleta also has great workout and athleisure wear, too.

Here are all of the favorite Grown and Flown face masks.

athleta face masks

9. Club or inter-mural sports.

If there is a sport that your teen can do safely now or in the future, a small sports bag to carry gear in is a great care package gift.

sports bag

10. Wireless earbuds.

These are a little bit of luxury that any college student would love and the Jabra Elite brand gets the top reviews for earbuds to wear while working out.

Jabra earbuds

For the Fashionista

11. Laptop and phone case decals.

As a college student, the easiest way to express your style is on your laptop. You bring it everywhere and, even on the mornings when you don’t feel like changing out of sweatpants, your laptop can still be well dressed with a cute decal.

vinyl decal

12. Hair Ties.  

They add a pop of color and you can never have too many!

hair ties

13. Gift card for you favorite store.

Chances are your mom is missing your shopping trips to the mall with you (and you are missing them, too.) Having a gift card to buy something online will help you (and your mom) remember those fun days together.

14. Kendra Scott

My aunt gave me a necklace and earrings by Kendra Scott and I am now a huge fan. Her beautiful jewelry can be personalized, possibly even in your daughter’s college colors.

college care packages

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 and more.

fan gear

16. Outdoor games 

There are ways to get a group together and still practice social distancing outdoors.  A corn hole game is a wonderful care package gift.

corn hole

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 author and illustrator who wrote this gorgeous book for her two off-to-college daughters.

Do Your Laundry or You'll Die Alone

18.The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College.

Harlan Cohen has written the classic book for college freshmen and this can be the go-to guide for students whenever they encounter a sticky situation.

Graduation gift ideas

19. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World. 

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.

Make your bed

20. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

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…

The boy, mole, fox and horse

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!  

Grown and Flown paperback

More Ideas for College Care Packages

21. Socks.

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. Now- use the code GROWNANDFLOWN at check out and take 12% off an order of $75 or more (and free shipping.) 

socks note to self

22. Razors.

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.

Harry's Razors

23. Anker Powerline+ II Lightning Cable.

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.

Anker phone charging cord

24. Silly games.

My hallmate’s mom ordered yo-yos and paddle ball games for us during midterms which were fun, stress-reducing toys we loved playing with.

paddle balls

25.Kan Jam 

This is an outdoor game that has become very popular as a party game and people can be spread out to play. 


26. Seasonal decorations/treats.

Halloween candy and a few decorations will be fun gifts to get and share in a care package.

27. String Lights.

If your student’s dorm room allows string lights, they are a way to make the room less dingy.

College car package ideas

28.Tervis Tumblers 

Tervis Tumblers are available with many college logos and they can also be personalized with initials or other designs. These insulated cups are indestructible. Tervis Tumbler

29. Cold/flu season care package.

Send a box with microwavable chicken noodle soup, cough drops, packets of powdered Gatorade that dissolve in water, a selection of green, camomile or other flavored teas, hand sanitizer, kleenex packs, Clorox wipes (if you can find them) and decongestant so your teen has a go-to get well box in case they get a cough, cold, the flu, or Covid.

30. Insomnia Cookies

who wouldn’t love to get warm, homemade cookies and a glass of cold milk when they are studying late at night? Insomnia Cookies can be found in more than 135 college towns so take a look to see if they are close to your teen’s campus.

31.  Food storage containers

These OXO containers will help keep leftovers fresh in the mini fridge.

oxo containers

32.Mario Badescu Spritz Mist and Glow Facial Spray Collection, 3 Piece Set – Lavender, Cucumber, Rose.

Your daughter will love receiving a collection of these trendy facial sprays.

facial sprays

33.Fjallraven Laptop Backpack

These stylish, lightweight backpacks can be used everyday 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 code word GROWNANDFLOWN on checkout for a 20% discount as we are Ambassadors.

lokai collegiate

35. Jack Black Lip Balm 

Jack Black has a line of lip balms with SPF 25 sunscreen and are available with light flavoring.  It is considered a men’s brand but the lip balms are amazing for anyone.

lip balms

36. Burt’s Bees Lip Balm.

This is my other favorite lip balm for cold weather and I like keeping a tube in my backpack and one on my desk.

lip balm

37. Dogeared Necklaces. 

These necklaces are very pretty and come with inspirational messages.

Ideas for college care packages

38. Bluetooth Speaker

The UE Wonderboom 2 gets the highest reviews for a wireless speaker.

UE wireless speakers

39. Sweatpants for men and women.

College students will be spending so much time in their dorm rooms this fall with virtual classes that having comfy clothing to wear will be important. These sweatpants for men and women from Uniqlo are well-priced and would be perfect for any student.


40. Sunscreen.

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 fun manicure.

Essie nail polish

42. Spalding NBA Slam Jam Over-The-Door Mini Basketball Hoop.

Sometimes guys (and girls) just want to goof around and this fun toy is a great way to do so.

over the door mini hoop

43. Revlon hair dryer/volumizer 

This is so much more than a blow dryer and your daughter will love hers as she styles and ties her hair when she wants to look her best for a Zoom class or interview.

Revlon hair dryer

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 socks and undergarments, too.


45. Microwavable popcorn popper.

Popcorn is a low-calorie, high fiber snack and this is an easy to manage microwavable popper.

microwave popcorn maker

46. Crazy Aaron’s Mini Tin Assortment Thinking Putty.

This reminds me of the Silly Putty I used to play with as a kid.

Thinking putty

47. Toiletries

Replenish their toiletries, including a new toothbrush.

48. Cash.

Your kid would be so happy to get an extra few dollars to spend.  Everyone loves this!

49. Plastic plates, bowls, etc.

Your freshman will be eating in their room this fall, maybe even more than in the past.  If they need some lightweight, easy-to-store plates and bowls, this are very cute from Target.

target dishes

50. Letter from home.

Nothing cheers any college student up more than a handwritten letter from home.

You Might Also Want to Read: 

How to Make a Go-Bag in Case Your Teen Has to Be Quarantined We hope that students stay safe but here is what to put in a go-bag in case they need to grab it and leave their dorm rooms.

f you're looking for the best ideas to send in a college care package for your kid, this list of 50 of the best ideas for college care packages is one you don't want to miss out on. #collegelife #dormlife #dormideas #collegeideas #carepackage #giftideas #collegetips

About Annie Berning

Annie Berning works at an ad agency in New York City as a Senior Brand Strategist where she is involved in the planning and strategy for national, multi-channel media campaigns. She graduated from the University of Virginia in 2018 with a Major in Media Studies and a minor in Social Entrepreneurship. She enjoys running and competing in triathlons and serves on the Junior Board of LSA, a non-profit based in East Harlem.

Read more posts by Annie

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