If you’re a parent, family member, or friend and want to send your favorite student a college care package, you’ve come to the right place. College can be a stressful time for those who are enduring it, so it will always brighten someone days when they receive a care package in the mail.
Below you’ll find a guide on what a care package is, how to create or pack one, and what to put in it.
What is a College Care Package?
A college care package is a package of hand picked goods, sent from a friend or family member, to a student in college. Not all care packages have the same items, but contain things that friends and family think are important for the student.
Care packages are usually sent during important times, or for a specific reason. A couple reasons are:
- Right after move-in and when they’re getting adjusted to life in college
- Before a large presentation that they’re nervous about
- Around mid-terms when they’re cramming for tests
- Over a holiday when the student is traveling home
- During a birthday when seeing the student isn’t a possibility
- Before finals when every bit of motivation matters
Tips for Packing A College Care Package
- After reviewing our list of what you want to put in the care package, you’ll need to determine whether you’re sending a digital or physical care package. A digital package being an entertainment or streaming service gift, or physical with a box including items.
- If sending a physical package, determine what size box you’ll need to get depending on what will go in the package. We recommend utilizing USPS flat rate boxes as they’re the most economically friendly option.
- If you’re sending fragile items, be sure that you appropriately pack them. Whether you wrap things in tissue, towels, or use packing peanuts.
- Finally, be sure that you write the college address correctly. If you’re shipping to a dorm, click here to check out our guide on how to write a college dorm address.
What Items Go In A College Care Package?
Below you will find an extensive list of different things that can be put in a care package. By all means, not every single one of these need to go in a care package, but hopefully this will help provide some ideas for your next gift to your favorite college student.
1. A Hand Written Note
The main point of sending a care package is to show love for your college student recipient. It’s important to send them a note, letting them know that you’re thinking of them, and good luck on their next test, midterms, finals, or the big presentation they have to give. This is the first and most important item that should be in every care package.
2. Amazon Student Prime Subscription
Nearly everyone buys everything on Amazon, right? Well, Amazon has an awesome deal for college students. Amazon Student Prime is a version of regular Amazon Prime, but specifically for college students. For an extreme discount, you can get access to free two-day shipping on 50+ million items, access to streaming of movies and TV shows, exclusive deals only for college students, and a ton more. You can gift your college student Amazon prime by clicking here (we’re just sending you over to Amazon to check it out).
3.Baked Goods, Favorite Food or Treats
Do you bake something that the student really loves? Opt for baking your favorite cookies and put them in an air tight zip lock bag. This will help those with homesickness remember the good cooking of their friends and family members. Here are a couple ideas:
- Snack Foods (think anything you can find in a vending machine)
- Protein bars or granola bars
- Packaged nuts (assuming there are no allergies to nuts)
- Beef jerky
4. Shopping or Dining Money or Gift Cards
Send your student some money to either go out and buy some new clothes, or go pickup one of their favorite dinners. This will help provide a spark of entertainment, as they’ll have something to look forward to.
5. Entertainment or Streaming Services
There are tons of streaming services, but here are a couple ideas on streaming services that can be great for college students. Since all of these are digital, maybe make a note in the care package that you got them the gift, so they have something physical and digital.
- Apple Music Student: Apple Music is a music streaming service where anyone can stream almost any song straight to their computer or phone. Even better, they offer nearly a 50% discount for college students. You can click here to sign up for Apple Music Student on Apple’s website.
- Spotify Premium: Spotify is a music streaming service similar to Apple Music. Apple Music and Spotify are very similar, but I’d recommend Apple Music over Spotify. You can click here to sign up for Spotify premium on Spotify’s website.
- Netflix: Netflix is a video streaming service to watch popular TV shows and movies on demand. You’re able to stream Netflix to most modern TV’s, tablets and cell phones. You can click here to sign up for Netflix on Netflix’s website.
- Hulu: Hulu is very similar to Netflix in that it provides a streaming service for many popular TV shows and movies. You can click here to sign up for Hulu on Hulu’s website.
New electronics are always exciting to get, granted they’re usually on the more expensive side for a gift. If you’re willing to splurge, think of electronics that will be helpful or fun for a student. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Headphones: My favorite headphones are the Apple AirPods Pro. They are a little expensive, but they are noise cancelling and extremely helpful for studying, walking to class, and working out. You can click here to check the price of these awesome headphones on Amazon.
- Amazon TV Fire Stick: If your student has an older TV that doesn’t have smart TV features, you can pick up an Amazon TV fire stick, which will allow the student to stream TV shows and movies through their WiFi. This is a perfect gift to pair with idea #2 (Amazon Student Prime) on the list above. You can click here to check the price on Amazon.
- Wireless Speaker: The UE wonder boom is a fantastic speaker, in a dorm friendly size. This is great when you’re student is having friends over, or they’re just hanging out in the park or on campus. You can check the UE wonder boom price on Amazon by clicking here.
7. Board Games, Card Games, or Outdoor Games
Whether inside or outside, games are an excellent way for your student to make new friends, or help keep them entertained. This is a great gift to give to students that just moved in or those that like to have friends over. These games aren’t just for kids; they can be extremely fun for college students too. Here are some of the most fun ones:
- Cards Against Humanity: A fun card game that is a little inappropriate, but a lot of fun for a group of friends. You can click here to check this fun game on Amazon.
- Monopoly: A classic game that is fun and can last for HOURS! It’s also extremely affordable. Click here to check the price on Amazon.
- CornHole: CornHole, or often called bags, is a fun game to be played with 2-4 players. It’s normally played outside, but you can play indoors with enough space. You can click here to check out my favorite set on Amazon.
8. Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles are extremely convenient to have on campus, and they’re environmentally friendly! The price of buying disposable water bottles add up, so buying a reusable ends up being significantly cheaper in the end. My personal favorite is the Hydroflask. I’ve personally had my same one for 4 years, and it is extremely durable. It keeps cold water cold all day, and warm drinks warm for many hours. Also, it comes in multiple sizes and colors. You can click here to check the price of this on Amazon.
9. School Branded Gear
Nothing says school spirit like buying clothes or items that are branded for your college or University. Usually you can buy the majority of these items from your school branded bookstore:
- Clothes: School branded polos, dresses, quarter zips, sweatshirts, or belts. Think seasonal when buying; football season is in the fall, so it’s a shift between warm to cooler weather, dependent on the climate you live in.
- For The Sports Lover: Basketball or football jerseys are great buys, especially for schools that have above average football and basketball teams. If they’re really in to it, see if you can score an autographed version signed by the whole team.
- Non-apparel Ideas: Drinking glasses, shot glasses, blankets, pillows, etc.
10. Seasonal Decorations
Whether your student is living in a dorm, apartment, or house, it’s always exciting to decorate for the seasons. Around Halloween, send some spooky decorations, or small lights to hang up around the holidays. If you’re planning to spend any holidays apart, these are great ways to keep the memories going.
11. Picture Frame With Family or Friend Photo Included
If your college student is feeling homesick, send them a personalized picture frame with a picture of you with them, or with them and their favorite friends. This is something that they can look at and make them feel better when times get rough.
12. At-Home “Spa Day” Kit
Nothing is better than relaxing before a big test or presentation than with a spa day inside the dorm. Here’s a couple ideas on what you can include:
- Hydrating Face Mask
- Comfortable Robe or Pajamas
- Foot Peel/Foot File
- Hair Mask
- Teeth Whitening
- At Home Pedicure Items
- Self Tanner
Accessories are great because they’re stylish and can be packed in to a small space. Here are some of the top recommendations:
- Hair Ties
- Hair Scrunchies
- Necklaces (Kendra Scott is a great option!)
14. Smell Goods
Nothing is more soothing than a lotion that smells good, or a diffuser of your favorite scent. However, be careful if you send something that requires an open flame. A lot of dorms won’t allow candles, or anything that can potentially cause a fire. Here’s some smell good ideas:
- Diffusers (Nest is great!)
- Candles (not for dorms)
- Scented Hand Lotions (Aromatherapy lotions are great)
- Wax Warmers
- Wall Flowers
For more suggestions, check out our top college product recommendations on our products recommendation page!