As a first-year college student, nothing made me smile 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 instead 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 Package Ideas — 50 Favorites
For the Homesick
The fastest way to make new friends is to share with hallmates, especially treats they can’t get on their meal plan. I loved getting chocolate chip cookies from my mom.
2. Energy Bar
I love LaRaBars and always try to have one in my backpack for a quick snack. I also appreciate that she sends extras for my friends, and I think this variety pack has some of the flavors we all love the most.
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 wonderful scents and will last for the entire spring 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.
For the Health-Focused
Working out and eating healthy foods when relying on the cafeteria for most meals can be challenging, especially as a college freshman. Here are a few ways to help your student stay healthy; these are also some of the best care package ideas.
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 trendy, come in many sizes, and are available in many colors.
6. Microwaveable oatmeal
Making oatmeal is easy 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.
7. New workout gear
I try to work out in the gym but going for a walk or a run is also a 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 hanging out.
8. Purell hand sanitizer
It’s not always convenient to wash your hands before grabbing a snack on campus, and having one of these small bottles in a backpack could come in very handy.
9. Sports bag
A small sports bag to carry gear in is a great care package gift, and Fanatics has 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.
10. 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
11. Bombas Gripper Slippers
I love my Bombas socks and think these cable knit slippers would be perfect to wear in the dorm. They are toasty warm and have grips on the bottoms to prevent slips. Available in pink, green, and grey, these win style points for being trendy as well as very practical.
12. Laptop and phone case decals
The easiest way to express your style as a college student is on your laptop. You bring it everywhere, and even 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!
14. Kyle Cavan Jewelry
Kyle Cavan jewelry makes some of the most unique and beautiful 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 company was founded by two young women who have been friends since they were 14, and I love everything they have built.
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
A corn hole game is a wonderful gift if your son or daughter wants something to set up on the quad or at a tailgate.
Books for Care Packages for College Students
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 woman.
18. The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
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.
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 year at college with his simple advice.
20. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse
This beautiful bestselling 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…
More ideas for college care packages
21. She’s Birdie personal alarm
This small personal alarm might help your daughter prepare for a situation where she feels frightened. Pull the pin to activate a loud alarm and flash the strobe light to create a diversion. The pin can be replaced and reused.
22. 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.
23. Silly games
My hallmate’s mom ordered yo-yos and paddleball games during midterms, which were fun, stress-reducing toys we loved playing with.
24. Anker Portable Charger
A phone with a dead battery is a preventable problem if your student has a lightweight charger to throw into a backpack.
25. Seasonal decorations/treats
Decorations and/or theme snacks make can make the best college care package!
26. Left Center Right
People love this dice game — it is a top seller among Grown and Flown families — and would make a perfect small gift for a college care package.
27. Tervis Tumblers
Tervis Tumblers are available with many college logos; they can also be personalized with initials or other designs. These insulated tumblers are truly indestructible.
28. Mini Jewelry Case
A safe place to store valuable jewelry in the dorm is essential, and this mini case could be placed out of sight in the back of a drawer or storage bin. Also great for traveling and available in seven pretty colors.
29. Therapy Dough
Gift your student the benefit of aromatherapy and stress relief with therapy dough. Available in lavender, pine, orange, or eucalyptus scents.
30. PJ Bottoms
These cute pajama bottoms are available in three different patterns. Your daughter would love having a new comfy pair to sleep and lounge in.
31. Mario Badescu Spritz Mist and Glow Facial Spray Collection, 3 Piece Set — Lavender, Cucumber, Rose
Your daughter would love receiving a collection of these trendy facial sprays.
32. Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
This popular game is fast to learn and fast to play.
33. Lokai Bracelets
We think these bead bracelets are lovely on the inside and out; Lokai is a socially responsible brand with a mission to help everyone find balance along life’s journey. There are collaborations with Disney, sports teams, a collegiate collection and more.
Use code GF20 to receive a 20% discount on your order.
34. Jack Black Lip Balm
Jack Black has a line of lip balms with SPF 25 sunscreen and light flavoring.
35. Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
This is my other favorite lip balm for cold weather and I like keeping tubes in my backpack and desk.
36. Mug Cake
Most students have access to a microwave and these mug cakes could be a yummy treat.
37. Bluetooth Speaker
The UE Wonderboom 2 gets the highest reviews for a wireless speaker.
38. Blue-light-blocking glasses
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 work well for college guys or women.
My mom always reminded me to wear it, so I am never surprised when she includes a tube in a care package. Here are some of the bestselling sunscreen brands.
40. Nail polish
A gift of Essie Nail Polish in school colors would make for a sporty look for a manicure.
41. PJ Pants
Pajama pants are super comfortable to wear to hang around in the dorm, and these super soft ones from Target would make your son happy.
42. Revlon hairdryer/volumizer
This is much more than a blow dryer; 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.
43. Journaling pens
These super-popular pens are meant for journaling, but they can be used for anything you would need a regular pen, including note-taking, color-coding a paper calendar, or just doodling. The set includes 18 colors.
44. Microwavable popcorn popper
Popcorn is a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, and this is an easy-to-manage microwavable popper.
45. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
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!
48. Plastic plates, bowls, etc.
If they need lightweight, easy-to-store plates and bowls, these are well-priced and cute ones from Target.
49. Amazon Prime Student account
There may be no better time for parents to separate their Amazon Prime accounts than when their teens are college students. The Amazon Prime Student account offers many perks and special deals for college students at a savings over a regular account.
50. Letter from home
Nothing cheers any college student more than a handwritten letter from home.
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Best Places to Order a College Care Package