College Student Care Packages

I would like to collect ideas for care packages for all the college students in our various midsts. I have sent Rob two boxes so far, though I’m counting them as one. The first was when I had to ship him some mail that came for him right after he left, and it needed to get there quickly, so I used a small flat-rate priority box and stuffed the remaining cargo area with granola bars, Belvita Bites, Ritz crackers-and-cheese—basically one of everything we had for school lunches. Later the same day, I sent the second: an 18-pack of microwavable Kraft Macaroni and Cheese:

(image from Amazon.com)

I’d had this in mind as something to buy a big box of and then put a couple servings in each care package, so that he doesn’t have to store 18-packs of various foods. But then he sent a photo to a friend of himself searching online for “Kraft Mac no milk or butter” while holding a box of regular Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and I upped the priority. Plus, there was an online coupon. Plus, we have Amazon Prime, so I could ship it to him directly for free. The cup kind might be better and/or more convenient, but would only ship free with $25 worth of stuff, so I’m starting with the packets and we’ll see if those are okay.

Here are some of the other things I have on my Care Package Ideas List (not to send all at once, of course, but just to consider for each box):

vitamins
his favorite pens
his favorite little pocket notebooks
trail mix
brownies
seed bars
candy
granola bars
beef jerky
breakfast-type things
microwaveable food (popcorn, Easy Mac, ravioli cups, instant oatmeal, Ramen, etc.)
Tabasco sauce
Altoid mint tins
gift card to local pizza place
new toothbrush
Dentek flossers
socks and underwear
photos of the cats
letters from the other kids

I would very much like to know what things you like/plan to send to college students, and I also very much want to know what you liked to receive when you were a college student. I liked to receive candy and snacks, and once my mom sent this giant orange tissue-paper flower (flat, so it could hang on a wall) and I hung that on the wall of dorm rooms and apartments until it finally fell apart. My parents also used to send dried fruit, which was nice to have on hand, and at Easter they lined a box with Easter grass and put an Easter basket’s worth of candy in there, and that was one of my favorite care packages ever.

64 thoughts on “College Student Care Packages

  1. Tricia

    Thinking putty is a fun thing to have on your desk and I’ve used it for stocking stuffers, also a card based game like Fluxx or Muchkin might win him the right type of nerdy friends. A few packs of sagru might be useful *and* fun. I was a sucker for school supplies in care packages- post-it notes, note cards, highlighters etc.

  2. Suzanne

    That sounds like a GREAT list. I especially like the idea of the occasional local-gift-card because it would have been such a treat when I was in college!

    My favorite food thing my mother sent was beef jerky. But the BEST was that she did a box like you mentioned your parents did for Easter, but for every holiday. For Halloween, she sent candy and a little stuffed spider and a stuffed pumpkin that I have to this day (well, they are now for my daughter on Halloween) and I think she stuck something in the box I could decorate with, too — like some of those window clings you can get for $1 at Michael’s and maybe a paper streamer of bats or something. For winter, she did a little snow globe. I am sure there are other things I am forgetting. But I loved that she would send things I could use to decorate my dorm. Helped me feel festive and less homesick. Also, since she would stick a bag of candy in — like for Valentine’s day, a whole bag of Dove hearts — I would get to share them with my roommates and people in the hall which was a fun way to get to know people.

    Oh! She and my dad would also sometimes cut out articles from our local newspaper. Sometimes they would be relevant — like a piece about someone I knew — but sometimes they would just be local flavor type things. That was fun.

    Once in a while (probably mostly at first) she would also stick in one of those Chicken Soup for the Soul books. If Rob wouldn’t be interested in that specifically, maybe a book of short stories or Sudoku or comics or something once in a while. Quick, easy reading/tasking that could sit on his nightstand or go with him to the laundry room.

    Hooray for care packages!!!

    1. Ann

      I love the holiday theme boxes! We’ll see if I’m capable of planning ahead enough, but since every store known to humankind already has their Halloween displays out now, I have plenty of time!

    2. kim

      My mom did this too – holiday theme packages – and she usually included something for my roommate (who never got any packages) . :)

  3. Jenny

    I liked food, do you’re good there. I recently came across some letters my mom sent 20 years ago when I was a freshman, it was surprsingly fun to read. So letters! And letters from the siblings are a good idea. I was the oldest of 5 and getting letters from them was fun. I know there’s texting and email, but getting actual mail is great. Money, even $5, was skways a treat. My mom would send newspaper articles she knew I’d be interested in.

  4. whitney

    Dried fruit is great for care packages. I’ll never forget the giant Costco bag of craisins my friend’s mom would send her at school. The best part of care packages, I think, is being able to share the loot with friends. I always enjoyed the craisins my friend shared (novel to me back in the late 90s!) and I loved being able to dole out some of my mom’s homemade treats to friends. She would even make a dozen goody bags for holidays and I would get to go around and deliver them to friends. So fun. But not sure if a guy would find the same pleasure in that.

  5. Erin

    I’ve been out of college for a while now, but I still remember my mom’s care packages warmly. Fun things she sent included:
    * stupid little toys – she sent four of these: http://a.co/bLawuhA – and my roommates and I had an amazing time with them. Also fun were squirt guns and an over-the-door basketball set that she pilfered from my dad’s office.
    * Ho-hos or swiss cake rolls. Always a favorite.
    * A non-educational book or magazine
    * something that smelled nice to combat college-dorm-funk. Reed diffusers, fancy linen spray, those little plug in jobbies (bonus for refills in the next package)
    * nice tissues during cold season
    * a nice travel mug
    * stamps and the gentle encouragement to send my younger siblings something in the mail, too
    * a small toiletry item that felt like a treat – new nailpolish, a little bottle of fancy lotion, or a new tin of a favorite lip balm
    * quarters for laundry

  6. Jessica

    Your family gets an A+ in care packages! My mom sent letters with cash or a gift card (Target, Starbucks, Panera) tucked in, which was exactly what I would have chosen, given a choice. So I guess she knew me pretty well! Other than that, I went to college 3.5 hours from home and very near my aunt, so I had visits from home/relatives around enough that they’d maybe take me to Target with them to get stuff or out to dinner. Mailing packages wasn’t a thing we did!

  7. Sarah

    My nephew went to college last fall and complained about the taste of the water. So we sent powered drink mixes (like Crystal Light or whatever) or Mio etc. to help with that. Oh and a reusable water bottle! Also, I found that he didn’t like to do dishes and appreciated things like a stack of paper plates or disposable silverware. Also, chapstick and gloves as it starts to get cold. And I love the holiday themed care packages as well!

  8. Megan Samarin

    What about magazines (or maybe a subscription would be cheaper.)
    You have a great list! What about things like a new shirt, scarf, sweatshirt, etc. I know that’s bigger ticket stuff, but one at a time wardrobe refresh items would be nice.

    1. el-e-e

      Yes, I was going to say I think my mom would sometimes put in a t-shirt or sweatshirt and THAT was a real treat.

      I think I loved the holiday themed pkgs, too. Halloween socks + candy corns, or a small Thanksgiving book or magazine in November. And she’d type/print up a letter on seasonal letterhead (remember when that was a thing??) Definitely little “touches” of my Mom. :)

  9. Superjules

    I guess kids these days aren’t using quarters for laundry anymore? That was always a nice thing to receive. Also, stamps. My mom still sent me stamps until I was well into my twenties.
    My niece is a freshman in college now and her dad just sent her some of her favorite tea.
    I was looking around her dorm room and I felt like she could use some thumbtacks (they have built-in bulletin boards that were looking depressingly blank) and maybe some post-it notes.
    I have one million sharpies but for some reason I love receiving them. So sharpies or markers? They come in handy. Chapstick. My mom once sent me a cute night light. I really liked that but ymmv.

  10. Kara

    My Mom never sent care packages, but my boyfriend (now husband) would send me baked goods. I mean, yeah, he was a culinary student at a different college, and they had baked goods galore, but every two weeks or so, he’d send me a big box of them- he’d freeze them overnight before packing them up. Not only did I love it, but my dormmates did too. He also sent me packages of my favorite gum, stickers (I’m a sucker for stickers), and other trinkets.

  11. Elizabeth

    I think quarters for the vending machine would be good. I usually bought drinks in 12 packs but it always seemed like I ran out just before going to the store for more. Other than that I think you have an awesome list going. I also second the cards/stamps for him to send mail to his siblings. Even though my daughter only moved an hour away she and my son mail cards back and forth to each other all of the time. Maybe mail the letters from his siblings so he gets real mail more frequently??

  12. MelissaC

    I think girls may appreciate this more, but similar to your orange paper flower, my grandmother used to send me a small holiday decoration. A little fake pumpkin, a small Santa Claus figure, a bedazzled Easter egg (that I still have today). She also sent bagels, homemade cookies and peanut butter. My friends loved her care packages – she was famous!

  13. Shawna

    That’s a lot of food! Does Rob not have a meal plan at his dorm?

    I know that battling the “freshman 15” was a much bigger concern for me than not having enough food, so my mom’s random care packages of boxes of chocolate bars got shared out to my friends lest I actually eat all of them. Of course Rob’s metabolism might make that a non-issue for him.

    I definitely would have appreciated a supply of things I had to spend money on, like my favourite lip balm or hair products.

    Also a travel mug is great because it cuts down on disposable use, but because I was in a dorm and our meals were taken care of, I don’t recall having access to dish soap to keep something like that clean, so maybe a travel-sized dish soap if you get him that? And the favourite tea suggested above would be a natural accompaniment. If he’s a coffee drinker, there’s instant or those tea-bag-like things with coffee in them instead. I also have a stash of Mini IDs (non-dairy, single serve creamers that don’t need refrigerating) at my desk and would probably use them in a dorm with instant coffee.

    A stain-treating stick to use before stains set on laundry might be useful, especially if it’s long stretches between laundry.

    Let’s see… underwear and/or fun socks? I loved colourful/funky/seasonal socks, but Rob’s taste may be more sedate. Pens and highlighters are always useful, though perhaps students don’t need so many now that everything is on computer. A pack of fun band aids? I know the dorms usually have first aid kits, but there’s always little blisters and paper cuts to take care of.

  14. Amelia

    I think I might be the exception, but I never knew what to do with all the food and junk my mom sent. I mean, I had a dining pass and I didn’t have room to keep food in my dorm, and on top of that, I was a young woman, so I and my res hall friends (all young women) were all trying to stay slim in the face of the freshman 15; perhaps this is not a consideration for a young man. My mom sent a big thing of vitamins, and I also thought that was strange; after all, we packed vitamins at the beginning of the year and I really didn’t need more by October.
    Honestly, the best things I received were postcards and notes from my parents and grandparents (maybe not so needed in this day of FB and Snapchat) so that I would know they were thinking of me, mail from my friends at other colleges (we wrote LETTERS to each other!), flowers from my dad on Valentine’s Day, and money.

    1. Mrs Dragon

      Yea, my mom’s care packages were like receiving boxes of her weird worries and anxieties and Costco sized amounts of things I only wanted in small amounts. She meant well, but…they never came off the way they were meant.

      For instance, I liked the Peppridge Farm Mint Milano cookies. So she bought a Costco box of packs with 2 cookies each. No one wants/needs that many cookies and we didn’t really have a communal space to leave them in. I was so sick of them by the end. I would have much preferred an occasional shipment of homemade cookies.

      Also, care package things change as students settle in and need things. For instance, finding quarters for laundry was a huge PITA so at the beginning of the year I would have thought a roll of quarters was weird and by the end I would have been like “score!!!!”

      Mostly I think the trick is not to go overboard (maybe send care packages to soliders or someone else to help stifle the impulse) and follow the rules of good gift giving (listen to them and pick up things they might mention).

    2. Julia

      I recently found all the letters and postcards I received while away at college. I can’t tell you how much they mean to me after 37 years! so many adventures I’d forgotten about. my mom also saved the letters she got from me during my exchange semester, so I have a nice record of things I did then. Cards and letters are the BEST.

  15. Tessie

    Fun! I remember needing quarters, laundry detergent, coffee/creamer and plastic utensils (our cafeteria only had “real” ones). Individual ranch packets/containers. I love the drink mix idea (the ones with caffeine would be a hit, I’m sure, for studying). A water bottle if he doesn’t have one. A flashlight if he doesn’t have one. Extra-long charging cords for his phone. Packages of scantrons, if that’s still a thing (IS it?).

    Does he have a car at school? I would have used the HELL out of an Uber gift card, had that been a thing back in my day.

    I agree that sending extra goodies (brownies!) can be an excellent way to make new friends in the dorm!

  16. Teresa

    When I was in high school, I always did the crossword in my local paper. No one else in the family was interested, so once I went to college, my step-mom cut them out each day and included an envelope of them in care packages. That was fun. She also sometimes clipped stories from the paper that she thought I’d like to see (pre-Internet, so no other way to share).

  17. Robin

    My sister used to make friends by handing out tootsie pops in class. A costco-sized box was a great treat in college.

  18. Katie

    Honestly, I would send gift cards. It’s not as fun for the sender per say but in college I found it much nicer to get a gift card vs. food or supplies in a care package. My mom would send me gift cards for grocery stores and drug stores. It was nice because I could save them for when I needed to buy something ASAP and then I didn’t really have to worry about my budget (i.e. buying condoms, medication, nicer bandaids, two packs of oreos on a particularly sad day…)

    1. Katie

      Also sometimes my grandparents would send money but include a funny note. For example, they would send thirty dollars but the note would say “to buy broccoli”.

  19. Maureen

    You have a great list going-but I’ll share some of the things I’ve sent my daughter…
    peanut butter
    ritz crackers
    plastic silverware
    cough drops
    Ibuprofen
    candy (I also found out what her roommate’s favorites were, and included those)
    cute holiday mugs
    holiday themed items (like Pyrex made small bowls with Halloween themes, so I sent those)
    stationary with stamps
    Starbucks gift cards
    warm socks (she goes to school in one of the coldest parts of the country)
    instant soup (she went through a phase where she liked those little packets, she has a Keurig so has access to boiling water)
    homemade cookies and brownies
    a little photo album with pictures of us and the pets

    In the box I always put a card with a bit of money in it. I never got a care package when I was at school, but my grandma would occasionally send me cards with $10.00, admittedly went further in the early 80’s-that I so appreciated. There is something about opening a card with cash, seems more fun than adding money to her bank account. A happy surprise!

  20. Maria

    Maybe check Groupon for deals in Robs area. A Groupon voucher for bowling or a bicycle/Segway tour of his new town could be fun. Depending on where he is, there could be seasonal offers for hayrides/harvest fests or in a few months maybe an ice skating rink. Living Social might also be a good place to find discounted offers.

  21. reagan

    I always liked to get rolls of quarters because they came in handy for laundry and vending machines. Stamps were great to get so I didn’t have to go buy them. Things that could be shared with my roommates and friends were always nice – mostly food but also little games and toys,

    You could try sending:
    – a couple of decks of cards
    – Jenga
    – a Rubixs cube
    – ear plugs (may be helpful if his roommate snores or it is loud when he is trying to sleep)
    – homemade treats (brownies, cookies … always loved by others on the floor)
    – local newspaper stories of interest; newsletters, etc. (i loved know what is going on in my hometown)

  22. SP

    I graduated about ten years ago….I think my dad would go to the store with one of the priority mail boxes and stuff things that were on sale in it! Most memorable package: a five-pound bag of hershey’s kisses. I shared with EVERYONE and still sometimes find one kicking around. My parents also used to let my younger sister put together packages for me–might be fun for William?

    Also: rolls of quarters, my favorite $$$ socks (smartwool!), razors, a mug with fun patterns. Once after a visit they decided my room was depressing and ordered me two lamps. Sometimes they would send me things that weren’t necessarily for me but would remind me of home–my mom’s favorite brand of gum or lipgloss, my hometown’s newspaper, a photocopy of a crossword puzzle my dad had half-finished since we used to do them together, a few christmas ornaments from their collection.

    My mom also STILL sends me cards with $5-20 in them for random holidays–Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, July 4th, and I still put them on the fridge when I get them :)

    1. Maureen

      This is so sweet, I love the half finished crossword puzzle. It must have let you know they thought about you, a lot!

      1. SP

        It’s funny, I think they actually sent a half-finished one by accident the first time–they meant to copy it before he started! But I LOVED it.

  23. Jaclyn

    At exam times my mom would send a package with new lotion, body wash, face masks etc so I could relax and pamper myself a bit. Once she overnighted homemade cookies which were a really fun treat.
    I really liked gift cards for local grocery stores and the movie theatre- anything, really, was exciting.

  24. Ruby

    During my first semester of college, my older cousins sent me a HUGE care package–probably the best I’d ever received. Opening it was like Christmas morning. A lot of what was in it probably won’t be up Rob’s alley, and I don’t remember everything they put in it, but here are some examples:
    -Colored pencils/markers/highlighters (these were useful for school projects later)
    -Nail polish
    -A grow-your-own-plant kit
    -Miscellaneous art supplies: spools of ribbon, construction paper, glitter, stickers, pipe cleaners, etc.
    -Nice-looking plastic dishes and cups
    -Various activity books (dot-to-dot, crossword puzzles, etc.)
    -Personal-sized packs of tissues
    -A stain-remover pen
    -Fun school supplies: cute notebooks, pencils, Post-Its, etc.
    -Refrigerator magnets
    -Removable wall hooks and that sticky stuff you can hang posters with
    -String lights
    -Probably a bunch of other stuff I’m forgetting
    -A nice note from them

    I especially liked how they had a nice mix of practical things and fun things. I think a lot of college students still aren’t quite sure if they’re ready to be an adult or if they still want to be a kid for awhile longer, and the box they sent me made me feel like they really GOT that.

    Other memorable care package items:
    -Homemade cookies
    -Candy, especially around Halloween, Valentines Day, and Easter
    -Holiday decorations
    -Ground coffee/coffee filters/a coffee cone (we weren’t allowed to have coffee machines in the dorms)
    -This one is more of a story: my college was a ten-hour drive from my parents’ house, and before we drove down the first time, my aunt came over with a bunch of snacks for the road. (They were all fancy/unusual snacks: weird flavors of chips, types of candy I’d never heard of, things from the fancy section of the grocery store. Taste-testing everything was a fun activity for the car ride!) After my parents got back, my aunt asked my mom all casual-like what I’d liked best. My mom said there’d been a cheese popcorn that I’d been especially fond of, so my aunt went back to the store, bought like ten bags of the popcorn, and mailed them all to me.

  25. Stephanie M

    Definitely the pens. They seem to disappear. Cute thumb drive every once in a while might come in handy. A roll of quarters or dollar bills for snack machines. Seasonal candy, gum. White out. Magazine. Extra phone charger. It’s kinda like a Christmas stocking, the more I think about it. :)

  26. RA

    We have tweeted back and forth about this, but for the good of the order:

    I gave a friend’s son a graduation gift that I would send him 3 care packages per semester in his freshman year, so I got VERY good at this last year. This was my formula:

    Brownies (they travel well!)
    Something seasonal: LED jack o’lantern, crazy St. Patrick’s Day wig, Easter grass, etc.
    Something school supply-like but cool: think novelty post-it notes or similar
    Candy: his favorites were Mike and Ikes, and then I threw in a few packs of something roommate/dorm friendly, like Hershey’s minis or fun-sized Milky Ways or something
    A card: I have no delusion that he kept ANY of these, but I made a point of writing a real note every time
    Something glowstick: this sounds crazy, but the party aisle at Walmart was a huge boon. I found a glow horseshoe set, beach ball, masks, etc. They are silly but I think fun!

    I also liked to use the medium-sized flat-rate boxes from the post office, which I think were like $15-ish to ship. It made an impressive-looking package that I still had to be judicious about packing. I couldn’t go overboard.

    1. RA

      P.S. I also looked up the school’s academic calendar so I could figure out when spring break, finals, reading day all were, and then I added more/less caffeine, sugar, or whatever, per the time of year.

    2. Maureen

      You reminded me of the LED candles-since they can’t have actual candles, the LED ones, especially holiday ones, are really fun. My daughter would put them in her window, very cute. Might be too girly, but maybe Rob might enjoy some Halloween ones?

  27. Carrie

    I am very jealous. I received only 2 care packages my entire 4 years. Both from my 1st year and from my Uncle’s ex-wife. (Love her so, so much for that!) But a Halloween basket full of candy(and fake spider’s webs!) And Easter basket full of candy were the BEST.

    In defense of my mother, she would give me stuff if/when I came home for the weekend. Detergent/fabric softener combo, shampoo, snacks, etc. Most of it would have been too pricey to ship and was most appreciated!

  28. Monica

    Great list!

    Here’s a suggestion for something I’ve been enjoying recently… https://smile.amazon.com/Duncan-Hines-Perfect-Chocolate-individual/dp/B01N183ZGT/ref=sr_1_14_a_f_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1504111587&sr=8-14&ppw=fresh&keywords=mug+cake+duncan+hines He will need a tablespoon to measure the right amount of water to put in, but that could be another fun package inclusion.

    My favorite packages when I was in college were holiday-themed. For Halloween one year my aunt sent me a bunch of candy, bat earrings (not useful for a boy I know), fun ghost socks that glowed in the dark, and a pack of glow sticks. For Valentine’s Day one year my mom baked cookies and sent them to me. I don’t even really like the type of cookies she sent but that meant more to me than any of the other packages I got. Nothing like eating your mom’s cooking to make you feel a little bit at home.

    My mom also sent me a letter once every few weeks with newspaper cutouts of my two favorite comic strips. She would save the comics page every day and then cut out those two strips and paste them to sheets of paper, sometimes including comments or happy faces next to the ones she liked best. Every once in a while she’d include a different comic if she thought I would like it. This probably took her at least an hour every couple weeks, plus saving the newspapers every day, so it’s not as easy as throwing some stuff in a box and shipping it, but it also doesn’t require going to the post office since she could stick a stamp on it and be done. Also, maybe this particular anecdote shows my age too much… lol

    I’d suggest breath mints and gum, because college boys often forget to brush their teeth.

    A party game that he can play with friends, like Cards Against Humanity or Telestrations (I strongly suggest they make up their own prompts instead of using the ones that come with it) would be very popular.

  29. D in Texas

    My mother sent letters often, and included postage stamps and $2 or $3 cash (it was the 70’s). My dad would write once a year, usually a slightly risqué card, with a $20 and the note: beer money. Don’t tell your mother.

  30. Heather

    If your son drinks Gatorade, consider the individual powder packets that dissolve in a 16 ounce water bottle. Great if he uses a reusable bottle as well. Easy to get cold water from a fountain and then you don’t need a big fridge to store Gatorade or worry about the roomies drinking it.

    1. Natalie

      Oh yes, there are a zillion different type of drink add-ins that would be good if he likes that kind of thing!!

  31. Corinne Brzeski

    This is far in the future, but I just thought of it and if anyone will remember, it will be you, Swistle.

    When I was in my last year of college, during my last few weeks, my mom sent me a postcard every day with a big countdown number on it (counting down to graduation). It was a small thing but I and my housemates really got a kick out of it. We taped them all up on the kitchen cabinets and once called my mom to “complain” when a day was skipped (it turned out that 2 came the next day). :)

    For the actual question, I always liked getting money. I didn’t have a job my freshman year and to get $5 or $10 in the mail meant I could go somewhere besides the dining hall to eat without feeling guilty.

  32. Kelly

    Quarters for laundry. And one of my favorite hints whas when my mom sent me a Christmas tree ornaments and lights to set up before the break. I don’t know where he is but transportation tokens, uber credit etc might me good. Tickets to an event in his college town, Waffle House gift cards or gift cards to close fast food or pizza stuff that will deliver. My office mates daughter gets a good gift card and then a Walmart gift card each month. Even if it’s just enough to take he and his roommate somewhere other than the dorm or the cafeteria.

  33. Blythe

    I appreciated anything that seemed like “luxuries” that I wouldn’t have spent my own money on. Brand-name or slightly higher quality anything (shampoo, socks, pens, etc). Find out if there is a local restaurant where kids hang out and send a gift card. Having a card for the place where everyone goes on Thursday nights for French fries would be so great, instead of slowly spending ten or twelve dollars of cash every time.

  34. Maureen

    I am loving all these comments, because it is all about what we can give to make other people happy. In trying times, it is wonderful to remember how many truly good people there are in this world. I try not to forget, but this post and it’s commenters really bring it home :)

    Thanks, Swistle!

  35. Gigi

    I only sent a couple of care packages to Man-Child – mainly because I couldn’t figure out what to send (boys, they are notoriously harder to buy for than girls) and because he was only two hours away. So I saw him fairly often, that is his opinion.

    One of the things I do remember sending, other than candy/baked goods was books. Man-Child and I are both avid readers and enjoy, mostly, the same types of books, so that’s what he got along with a sweet letter/card and whatever else I thought to include at the time.

  36. Gigi

    Darn it! And gift cards, particularly gas cards after he had a car on campus.

    I’m sure as soon as I hit publish, I’ll remember something else….

  37. P-Mum

    Her sister and I picked up care package items today while shopping – dinosaur print boxer shorts (she wears those for pj’s), candy, and fun stuff from the dollar store – stickers, play doh, bubble wrap (fun stress relief), silly toys. Anything to make her smile. She’s going to school in NY, so still need to get something with a NE sports team logo, just to remind her where home is!

  38. Aurora

    I don’t remember getting a lot of care packages put together by my actual parents, but there was a nearby farm store that had a care package thing they could order during exams and they were wonderful. I don’t remember everything in them, but they included apple cider, a little pack of shortbread cookies, really good seeded crackers , cheese, and maple sugar candy. I don’t suppose the cider or cheddar would travel well, but the other things could work. Also if his school has something like that, well, there is precedence for them being good. If you do get in the habit of something like that, I recommend remembering every time or warning if you’re going to stop—my parents forgot once and they all got delivered to the bell desk in our dorms and we had to look through them for ours and, well, exam time is not a great time for unnecessary disappointments.
    I also would have appreciated things to improve on campus food, especially grab and go breakfasts. Instant oatmeal was a lot more palatable to me with honey and dried fruit and nuts—that kind of thing that you might keep in stock at home but just aren’t part of the college food experience unless you supply them yourself.

  39. Anna

    Oooh this is such a fun topic! Of course your main source of information is your insider knowledge of Rob- what he likes, the extent of his meal plan, his spending money situation etc. I agree that a little cash is always fun and welcome, and if it is possible for you to fund his laundry-doing (ie quarters) that is both satisfying for you and practical for him. However, when I was in college we used tokens, and later cards, so that takes some of the fun out of that idea. My most favored item to receive was a box of Oregon Chai packets, which I loved and never bought for myself. Toiletries, if he is normally responsible for those. Caring and a subtle HINT as well. I’m going to date myself when I say that an unexpected hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from my dad was so fun. I was expecting to be on the holds list at the library forever, and there it was. So maybe a new release that you know he would like.

  40. Julia

    there is less need for this than in the past, but a few envelopes with stamps on them, including a larger size, if there is something he needs to mail home or to someone else. They never have any idea where to get stamps and the pkg lies around for days at the bottom of a backpack while they forget about it.

  41. Jenny

    My favorite care packages were the ones my siblings put together for me. If my sister made me cookies or my brother picked out a set of Post-Its with the Ninja Turtles on them, I felt completely fuzzy and loved.

  42. Alice

    My mother didn’t send a lot of care packages– one before Thanksgiving break and one before Spring break. It was too far to go home, so I stayed in the dorms for those breaks. Everything on campus was shut down, so she sent cups of instant ramen and oatmeal packets. It wasn’t the greatest stuff, but I stayed fed.

    What I really would’ve loved if she sent packages more often was homemade baked goods and any form of junk food– with the expectation that those things were being sent to share. Cash or a gift card to a pizza place that delivered to the dorms also would have been good. I had a full meal plan, but they didn’t serve dinner on Sundays. My friends and I usually got together and went in on ordering a pizza those nights. Occasionally we went out to dinner instead, but I mainly remember the pizza. Probably because that was the preferred cold-weather/dark night choice.

    Something you should consider: I have no idea if Rob is in one of the modern fancy suite-style dorms or if he’s in an older one. I spent most of my college career in a dorm room that was built in the 1920s, and it was a pretty small space with no storage other than two narrow closets. It was fine, and I loved that room, but I think that care packages with stuff that needed to be put out/stored would’ve been a problem if I’d received very many of them. Be sure to take the storage space available into consideration when you send anything!

  43. Melissa

    All of these are great comments! I loved ANY mail, but Grandma was always good for a $20, which meant we ordered the GOOD pizza and I invited dorm neighbors to share!

  44. Natalie

    Ok I didn’t read many other comments but I wanted to say razors, if Rob is a frequent shaver? Because those things are expensive and using a dull one is the worst (for women; I assume it is same/worse on your FACE). Or maybe a membership to one of those shaver club things.
    Also occasional iTunes gift cards (or the Android equivalent).

  45. Lisa

    Toothpaste, chocolate bars and easy microwave food were top for me as a student

    Each winter (including many after uni) mum sent me a winter care package. 2 new pairs of pj pants, some new tights, hot chocolate or coffee sachets. Random winter things (like microwave hand warmers and a bottle of bourbon (drinking age in NZ being 18).

    My cousin always got new rubberbands for his rubber band ball.

  46. Kim

    Somebody said glow sticks, I sent these as kind of a lark when my daughter was in college. Ended up being the hit of the next dance she went to, and they were from the dollar store. This week I’m sending my son some tooth whitening strips (he’ll use but never buy for himself). Have also sent silly putty, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, uber gift card, new phone cover, extra-long cord phone charger.

  47. Elizabeth

    Thanks for this! I have a college freshman who just started classes last week and some of these were great suggestions for her (cake in a mug and mac & cheese in packets). Unfortunately, she’s allergic to nuts, so granola bars and such are not a possibility, therefore I am grateful for all the other suggestions. I like the idea of seasonal packages as well.

  48. goingloopy

    I was always a fan of cash money. Quarters are an excellent idea, because I have this suspicion that dorm washers & dryers don’t get replaced all that often. Maybe some fun stamped postcards to send to his friends at other schools/family members? Snack foods you can prepare in the dorm are always a plus, as are socks. If you’re good with his clothing sizes, dorms are the best place for PJ pants. If he doesn’t have one, a whiteboard? Or if he does, more markers? Whiteboards were big in my dorm, everyone had one on their door, and the markers last for like 30 seconds.

    Really, though, in college, it’s never possible to have too much cash.

  49. Tasha

    The comments here are a treasure trove. I don’t have much to add but wanted to share an experience.

    I was the student who desperately wanted a care package but my mom never sent one. Not sure why. I was very vocal that I wanted one.
    Anyway, my best friend’s parents sent her a box each month. The first month, her mom sent a package of Twizzlers not realizing that her daughter didn’t like them. She gave them to me bc I loved Twizzlers. She also talked to her mom daily so reminded her that she didn’t care for Twizzlers so she’d given them to me. The next month, her mom included a pack of Twizzlers. She reminded her Mom that she didn’t care for Twizzlers. Her mom said, I know. They’re for Tasha.
    Each month her mom included a pack of Twizzlers. For me. I’m crying just remembering this. How loving of her mother. And it meant SO MUCH TO ME bc my mom don’t send me anything.
    So, please, remember the roommate or best friend. It very well may be the only thing they get.

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