Ideas for Care Packages Your College Student Will Love

Ideas for Care Packages Your College Student Will Love

A care package from home can be a comforting and welcome gift, whether your student is a freshman or an upperclassman. And while you thrive on seeing your child forge ahead into their future as an independent young adult, there’s nothing like a gift from home to bridge the miles between you.

All packages come from the heart, but how they’re created and what they include can be as individual as the students who receive them. From the DIY variety to the prepackaged, there are lots of fun options for college students.

Parents Weigh in with Suggestions

The parents in our Paying for College 101 Facebook group were eager to share some of their ideas for care packages, along with their care-package success stories. Here’s what they had to say (quotes are edited for clarity and flow):

I told my daughter to create an Amazon wish list so I could look through the things she likes and surprise her with gifts every now and then.
– DR

We printed some photos of friends and family and added them to my son’s care package. He loved it.

We sent my daughter an I Miss You All-Red-Y care package that included all things RED, like licorice, lip gloss, nail polish, etc.

Send electronic treats! For example, Starbucks lets you send gift cards by email.

If you didn’t pack an “I have a cold” box, you could send all the makings with soft tissues, Vicks, and Post-it Notes with a silly something on them.

Know your child and do what you think will make them feel loved, not just what everyone else is doing.

We create them as a group at my church. Everyone brings one or two items (enough for every student to get one), and we all share the items. We spend most of the evening writing personal notes to each student, many of whom we’ve known for years. Each person takes their own child’s box to ship, and each child gets a box of goodies and multiple notes, all packed with love!

My daughter loves my care packages. I don’t recommend sending the ones that the school endorses. I send food (snacks and ramen and food that’s non-perishable), seasonal items like Halloween decorations or pumpkin spice items, and small gifts (socks, toys, etc.).

Pre-Packaged Gifts

Not all gifts come directly from home. There are a number of companies that specialize in gifts of the pre-packaged variety.

If your student has a sweet tooth, this package from Southern Caramel containing caramels and caramel sauce (perfect for midnight ice-cream parties) will surely hit the spot.

While most students are on a meal plan, many living on campus also have access to a shared kitchenette. This package for the pasta lover (is anyone NOT a pasta lover?) has spaghetti and all the toppings-with plenty to share.

Packages from The Popcorn Factory fit every budget and are great for fans of both sweet and savory treats. For added fun, you can have your package arrive in a customized tin with a photo, or with a personal message.

For students with allergies or dietary restrictions try The Naked Baker for their tasty gluten-free collections, and Almost Empty Nest for their vegan options.

Care Package Parties for DIY Parents

Care packages can help parents connect with their students, and care package assembly parties help parents connect with each other. It’s a win-win all around.


The participants convene and discuss what will be going into the packages and who will be bringing what. The items can range from snacks, packs of gum, hot chocolate, and bags of microwavable popcorn, to non-food items like hair ties, socks, tissues, funny notepads, and decks of cards. We’ve even read that bubble wrap for “stress relief” has made the list.

Part of the group gathers packing supplies, tape, and scissors. The other participants are responsible for supplies like markers, patterned paper, metallic pens, and decorative stickers.


Once all the details are ironed out, the group meets at the host’s house where everyone gets serious about the assembly. These get-togethers have become quite popular recently-they give parents the opportunity to bond, share stories, and come away with ready-to-ship packages for their college kids.

Themed Care Package Ideas

In addition to the Just Because I Love You packages, those sent for specific reasons, like Stress Relief, Birthday Greetings, Sorry You’re Under the Weather, and Good Luck With Finals, can brighten anyone’s day.

Sorry You’re Under the Weather

Being away from home when you’re feeling poorly can be challenging, but a care package from home can ease at least some of the discomfort. Include packets of tissues, hot cocoa, instant soups, a variety of tea bags, honey spoons, a fun mug, and a “get well soon” message.

Birthday Greetings

You can’t go wrong with a package containing the fixings for a celebration… a birthday banner, confetti, balloons, and party hats. Include pre-made cupcakes or boxes of cake mix and frosting, and a BIG birthday card to make the birthday celebrant really feel special.

Stress Relief

It’s freshman year of college and that means there are tests to take, papers to write, and presentations to create. When you couple it all with a bout of homesickness it can add up to particularly stressful days and nights. A package from home with a cheerful and supportive message can take that stress down a few notches. Fuzzy socks, a scalp massager, Silly Putty, bubble wands, therapy dough (it’s both relaxing and fragrant), and even a weighted blanket-it all helps.

Being far away from your child doesn’t mean you can’t show them you’re there for them. A little creativity goes a long way and may even help bring you closer. After all, who doesn’t love getting an unexpected care package in the mail?


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