Sending care packages to your college kid can be as hard or as easy as you make it. Hard if you make the mistake of trolling Pinterest for ideas and discover that there are people out there who construct entire boxes around a theme and make veritable scrapbook pages out of the box flaps (Bravo, seriously… but who has that kind of time?) It can be easy if you just, well, stay the hell away from Pinterest.
Another way making packages can be effortless? Get your friends to make them for you! (Sort of). Care package parties are a fun way to easily create a box that will blow your kid’s mind; selfishly, it’s a great excuse for you to get together with some friends you probably haven’t seen since graduation, dish about the kids you all miss terribly, sip some cocktails, and assemble a kick-ass care package in a fraction of the time it would have taken you to do it alone.
This was my group last year before masks and social distancing were part of our lives. No reason why you can’t set up in the backyard and have the same fun, just at a safe distance from each other.
While large parties are often a popular option, I kept my recent soirée smaller. “The more the merrier” may be fine for some, but for me, “more” means “more anxiety” and “more planning,” neither of which I don’t need in my life right now. I also wanted the boxes to be packed by moms that all (or most of) the kids knew — some since kindergarten — which I felt would make it a bit more personal.
However you decide to organize it, here’s a helpful guide to ensure that the night — and the care packages — are a success!
12 Steps for Hosting a College Care Package Party
- Create a group of people you’d like to include. I invited a smaller group of moms (8) because I wanted things to be more manageable, and as I said before, more personal. Each mom who came knew at least three or four of the other moms as well as their kids. (Also, while I invited moms, you could certainly get some dads involved as well!)
- Send out invitations — I created a private Facebook group — with the date, time, and location. Include a catchy title, like “You’re invited to a Care Package Party (or, an excuse to drink wine and whine about how much we miss our kids).”
- Have the guests RSVP by at least a week prior to the party so you have a firm number and your guests have adequate time to shop.
- Message all who are attending a week before the party and let them know how many of the SAME ITEM to bring to share. (For example, if there are seven parents coming, each parent will bring SEVEN of the exact same item(s). Since we had a mix of boy and girl moms, we kept our items unisex.
- Since our party was close to Halloween, I also had everyone bring one large bag of Halloween candy and we filled Trick-or-Treat bags for each kid. Even if your party isn’t close to a candy-themed holiday, it’s still a fun idea, because candy.
- Set a spending guideline if you wish. (I didn’t and it seemed to work out fine — some spent a bit more than others but it made for a great mix of items in the boxes!)
- Have everyone BYOB (Bring Your Own Box) — I provided tissue but you can have your guests bring their own filler if you wish. I may or may not have used small Tootsie Rolls as a box filler in the past!
- Decide how much of the hostessing duties you’d like to take on regarding food and beverages (I asked my guests to bring an appetizer and I provided the beverages).
- Send your guests an idea list. I included things like fun socks, fidget toys, travel-sized lotion, notepads, pens, hair binders, and scrunchies, face masks, sleep masks, movie candy boxes, tea, cocoa packets, mug-treat packages. Grown & Flown has this great college care package idea list in their Amazon shop, as well!
- As they purchase items, have your guests send a message to the group (again, we used Facebook) so there aren’t duplicates. Although really, can one have too many pairs of cute socks?
- At the party, have each parent sign a small note card titled with something like “Packed with love by…” to be included in each box. Awww.
- Most importantly, have fun with your friends, raise your glass, and toast to the fact that even though your kids are grown and flown, you’re still kicking butt at the whole parenting thing!
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