Even in the age of electronic communication, college students love to receive ”real” mail. Perhaps the mail that college students love to receive the most are those care packages from home. Nothing beats something put together lovingly from home, and receiving presents — even small tokens — really brightens a student’s day!
When to send a package
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. Other times when students especially appreciate a package can be those particularly stressful times of midterm and final exams, or send a package to celebrate an event, an award, a milestone or just as an unexpected surprise. 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!
Standards to include
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. A quick Google search will turn up a range of offerings and prices. In some cases packages are themed, or 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. Putting together just the right care packages should be a fun way to think about your student and her interests and personality. Keep a list or start a collection early and add things whenever you think of them. Be sure to send packages early and often.
Here are some standard items that are usually appreciated in any care package:
- 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 — fun 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, newsletters, photos.
- 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.
Stepping it up a notch
In addition to the standards — food, personal items, school supplies, room decorations, and news from home such as clippings from the local newspaper, here are a few additional thoughts that can raise the level of your care packaging.
- Home baked goodies are always appreciated, but packing them carefully helps. Be sure to cool products before you wrap them. If you’re sending brownies or bar cookies, try to take them out of the pan in large pieces and wrap and pack them that way. They can be cut later, and won’t crumble as much. Soft cookies can be stacked in something like a Pringles can or orange juice can. Or try baking a favorite cookie recipe as a bar cookie that will travel more easily. Send any frosting in a separate container. It can be spread once it arrives.
- Consider sending smaller packages more often. Little surprises that come unexpectedly are especially fun.
- Consider some healthier snacks that might not be as available on campus —granola, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, cheese snacks, granola bars, mini loaves of homemade bread.
- Think about beverage mixes — specialty tea bags, cocoa mix, lemonade mix.
- Send pictures of family or events. Yes, these may be available on Facebook or the internet, but your student might like to put them up on a bulletin board or even frame them.
- If your student has a kitchen accessible, consider sending dry cookie ingredients and a store gift card for the wet ingredients. Send dry soup or other mixes. Or send some favorite recipes, a shopping list, and a store gift card.
- Include a gift card for a local grocery store, restaurant, or coffee shop. Do some investigating to find out what is available on or close to campus.
- Consider something huggable and fun — a small stuffed animal, a cozy pillow or warm blanket.
- Wrap items in the local comics, or use comics as fillers in the box. Your student will enjoy the wrapping as well as the contents.
- Mail your package early in the week so that it won’t sit in the mailroom over the weekend.
- Be sure to put any liquids in plastic bags or containers.
- Consider packing items in reusable containers that might come in handy in your student’s room.
- Include enough to be shared with roommates and friends.
- Be sure to check out new flat rate shipping costs.
And don’t forget . . .
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. Even though you may talk to your student regularly, a surprise package in the college mailbox says ”We’re thinking of you” in a special way. Be sure to send occasional packages to send your special message to your student.
Any additional ideas of creative things to include in a care package for college? Leave a comment and share your ideas.