Information for the parents of college students
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Sending Your College Student a Care Package

We’ve written a previous post about using the old fashioned technology of snail mail to reach out and let your student know that you are thinking of him.  We hope that you’re staying in touch often.  Sometimes, however, we like to make a bigger gesture.  Students always love receiving care packages from home.  The thought counts, but receiving presents – even small tokens – really brightens a student’s day!

Care packages are appropriate at any time of the semester.  In fact, a package that is unexpected is often a double bonus.  However, care packages may be especially appreciated at particular times.  Sometime during those first couple of weeks for new students is a time when a package may be especially meaningful.  This might also be a good time to include a small item or two that the student might have forgotten to pack in the first place. If there is a special event, such as a concert or award ceremony, in which your college student is participating, and you can’t be there, a care package may be appreciated.   Other times when students especially appreciate a package can be those particularly stressful times of midterm and final exams.  Something that might make your student smile, and think about home, will be meaningful.  And if it contains food, it will be appreciated all the more!

There are services available that will send care packages for you.  The student’s college may even run a fundraiser that sends packages.  Sometimes the packages may be prepared by student groups, or by college food services. These college sponsored offerings usually come around exam time, but might be available throughout the semester – perhaps for a birthday or other special occasion. There are also commercial companies that will send packages at any time.  Companies such as or can be found on line and have a range of offerings.  In some cases, you can select from a checklist which items you would like to include in the package.

As convenient as these services may be, there is still nothing like a personal care package straight from home.  You will be able to include those special things that you know will be meaningful to your student.  Some items to think about including –

  • Food – Your student will appreciate anything, but will especially appreciate home baked goods, snack items or personal favorites such as a favorite type of candy bar or favorite tea or cocoa mix.
  • Personal items such as toothpaste, deodorant, lotions etc.  (Yes, your student could buy these things, but it is convenient not to have to go out to get them – or to spend the money for them.)
  • School or study items – paperclips, staples, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc.
  • Things to decorate the dorm room – especially holiday decorations.
  • Things to share with friends – this is especially appreciated if you send food.
  • Personal items from home – local newspapers, magazines,
  • The list is only limited by your imagination.  Once you get started thinking creatively, you’ll be surprised about the number of things you can think of.

A couple of final thoughts –

  • Be careful with perishables.  If you are sending anything perishable, it is best to let the student know that it is coming.  She may not be in the habit of checking for packages every day.
  • Check to be sure that you have the correct address and that it is written clearly.
  • Consider sending smaller packages often.  Finding frequent treasures in your mailbox is fun.

Sending a care package is a small way of letting your student know that you are thinking about her.  She’ll appreciate the effort that you’ve made.

Any additional ideas of creative things to include in a care package for college?  Leave a comment and share your ideas.

Related Post:

Reach Out to Your College Student Through Good Old Fashioned Snail Mail

It’s Final Exam Time: What’s a College Parent To Do?

Cheering Your College Student On From a Distance


1 Patrick { 08.24.16 at 10:18 am }

Make sure you put one of these in there. It won’t just feed them for a day, it will help them feed themselves all semester!

2 Veronica { 03.07.13 at 1:37 am }

I recently signed up my daughter for a care package service that offers essentials and is different every month. She’s only received one package so far, but they managed to pack a lot of stuff into that duffel. My daughter got a new t-shirt, wristlet, scarf, underwear, socks, razor, and hair ties in her first month. I’m going to look forward to her getting them as much as she does each month!
Their website also sells care packages for guys, I’ll definitely consider signing up my son when he goes off to college.

3 Helen { 10.08.12 at 5:22 pm }

I found a fantastic website for college care packages. They have fresh fruit and nuts as well as the traditional stuff:

4 Kevin { 03.22.11 at 9:57 pm }

My son was trying to stay fit, so the traditional care package was not an option. I found a site called they offered a variety of healthy alternatives for a care package.

5 Linda Millet { 05.06.09 at 9:52 pm }

Great advice. My sons school, University of Redlands, uses, and every semester I send care packages to my sons in college, and they always love them (the Birthday Box is a definite…it has a real pinata!). I have tried a few sites over the past few years, made a few gifts myself, but nothing compares. I think a lot of schools use Box-O-Box, so you should definitely check with your student services or housing, because that is who sends me the letters about care packages every semester.

Also, be sure to check with your schools post office, because that is where most packages get sent, and most sites do not ship to post offices…

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