8 Great Ideas for the Absolute Best College Care Package

I’ve got two different stories for you, both with the same ending.

Story #1

So, you’ve done it! The first few months of school have whirled by in a flurry of new friends, busy schedules, and major life adjustments. No time passes more quickly than those first few weeks of a new year of college! When you moved in, it was still summer, hot and sticky (and likely without air conditioning–UGH!). But now, the leaves are changing and beginning to fall. Or maybe they’re not — maybe you’re now in a new part of the country and you’re adjusting to the fact that the seasons don’t really change at all, or at least not in the way you’ve been used to.

But now that things are calming down and becoming more routine, you’re starting to miss home. Maybe you’ve never been gone from home this long, or perhaps this isn’t your first year and you’ve become used to this autumnal feeling of nostalgia. Either way, the rush of the beginning of the year is behind you, and Thanksgiving and Christmas still feel really far away. You’re missing home, and you’re ready for a connection.

Or maybe …

Story #2

… you’ve done it! You’ve sent your child off to college! Those first few months have passed by agonizingly slooooowly. The usual September whirlwind of new schedules, adjusting back to the routine, remembering all the details of new sports practices or drama rehearsals or after school work schedules have been shockingly absent. The house is quiet. Life is undeniably different. You’ve heard updates about what’s happening at school, but not as many as you’d like. Is she adjusting? Is he eating well? What kinds of friends is she making? Does he feel like he’s in the right place?

From what you’ve heard, things have been going well, and you generally take the lack of more communication as a pretty decent sign. If they were miserable, you’d probably get more calls and messages, right? But either way, it’s been a big adjustment for you, too. You’re accepting the change, but there isn’t a day that isn’t tough in one way or another. You’d love to find a way to be more connected (without being overbearing).

Back when I was in college, the fall was always a major time for care packages, and with good reason: students were always starting to run low on the stockpiles of supplies they’d brought with them when school started in August, and the homesickness and distance always felt the most acute once the big crush of adjustment from the beginning of the school year started to subside. I remember stalking the campus Book Shop in October, finding cards and little gifts to send home, and always being so excited when I’d get a notification in my mailbox that I had a package from home waiting for me!

So, in the spirit of the season, we’ve come up with 8 great ideas for making your own care packages, either to send home or to send to a student eagerly awaiting one at college!

Best Care Package Ideas: The First Six

After scouring the web (and our own memories), we’ve found some fantastic ideas for packing a memorable care package from home to send to a college student (who is likely more homesick than they’re letting on):

  1. Food. Especially stuff with flavors or tastes from home that might be tough to get far away.  Snack foods that don’t have to be cooked are the most convenient.
  2. Money. Because life is pricey … but you don’t have to send a lot.  My dad used to include $20 in notes and care packages, and it used to MAKE MY DAY.  Or sometimes my week.
  3. General Supplies. Again, especially if they’re hard to find where they are now, or if they don’t have a car to do day-to-day shopping. Laundry powder, hair ties, shampoo, dryer sheets, band-aids; they all feel invaluable when you’ve run out!
  4. Socks. Because having more socks means having to do laundry less often.
  5. A heartfelt note or card.  It means more than you can imagine.
  6. Anything from home.  A t-shirt, a poster, a picture, a calendar — anything from home.  Even if they were “too cool” for it before, it will probably be cherished.

Check out these sites with some of our favorite ideas (most include links where you can buy items directly) for more inspiration:

  • Money Magazine: 12 Great Care-Package Ideas for Your College Kid 
  • Mashable: 15 Thoughtful Care Package Ideas for Your College Kid
  • Ranker: What College Students Really Want in a Care Package

Lucky #7: Reverse Care Packages

But a care package isn’t only something a parent can send to a child who is far from home. When I was in college, I often sent packages home as well, sometimes for my whole family, or specifically for one family member or another when I found something that really made me think of them. It can be great to pack up a few little things from the campus Book Shop, or from the local area to send home to let your family know you’re thinking of them. Little things like:

  • Pins
  • Buttons
  • Pencils
  • Postcards
  • Note cards
  • Stickers
  • Pictures of campus, or stuff you’ve been up to
  • Posters of campus or the surrounding area
  • Leaves or flowers from campus

These small items make really sweet mementos for friends and family back home.

What About Coloring?  Great Idea #8!

(Ok, you knew we were getting around to that, right?) What could possibly be better to include in a care package than a College Coloring Book?!?  (Answer: nothing!) This works perfectly whether you’re a student or a parent or a friend!

Your mom will love to receive a coloring book illustrating the places and traditions that are shaping your life as a college student. And your daughter will be thrilled to receive a gift that details all of these new aspects of her life at school! Or EVEN BETTER — get one for yourself and send the other one along in the care package so you can share in coloring this new life chapter together! As a student, you can send a poster of your favorite spot on campus. Or, as a parent, you could send along a box of personalized note cards. (Bonus! It encourages them to write back to you!)

These Ideas Are Just The Beginning

What’s the best thing YOU have ever sent or received in a care package?  We’ll share our favorite ideas in a future post.

And if you put together a care package with a College Coloring Books product in it, post a picture on Instagram and tag us (@college_coloring_books)!

We can’t wait to see what inspires you!

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