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Care package ideas for college students

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

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When your child goes off to college, your responsibilities as a parent don't end there. College can be a difficult transition, even for the most mature and well adjusted 18-year-old. In addition to talking to your child regularly, sending care packages is also a must. Depending on the needs of your child, care packages can contain an array of items. A care package should show your child you care, but also contain items that they want and need. Talk to your child and get input before sending the care package.

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Best foods for a college care package

The most common type of care package consists of food. While a lot of colleges offer meal tickets for cafeteria food, that's not always sufficient. Students keep odd hours and need snacks on hand at all times. Fast food, in addition to being unhealthy, can also be costly – especially for college students. That's where food related care packages come into play.

When sending food care packages, make sure that everything you send is non-perishable. Also take into account how much space your child has to store the items and whether or not your child has a stove, oven or microwave at their disposal.

Here is a list to get you started:

  • Beef jerky
  • Bottled water
  • Candy bars
  • Gum
  • Canned soups
  • Cereal and oatmeal
  • Granola bars
  • Chips
  • Brownie mix
  • Rice crispie treats
  • Homemade cookies
  • Ramen noodles
  • Popcorn
  • Pretzels or party mix
  • Protein bars
  • Tea or lemonade mix


For an extra treat, consider gift cards to your child's favorite restaurants or fast food places!

Best health & hygeine items for a college care package

When your child is off at college, fighting off germs will remain a constant struggle. Dorms are notoriously dangerous breeding grounds for all types of nasty bacteria, molds and viruses. Keeping everything as clean and sterile as possible is the best way to avoid getting sick.

Here are some items that could be included in your care package:

  • Antibacterial spray
  • Cleaning products
  • Hygiene products
  • New bedding items
  • New towels and wash cloths
  • New undergarments
  • Shampoo
  • Colorful or whimsical loofa
  • Shower slippers
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Contact solution
  • Fun lotions
  • Shower shoes
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mini first aid kit with bandages, anti-biotic ointment, etc.
  • Air freshener

Best school supplies for a college care package

Items that can be included in this care package include:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Highlighters
  • Notebook paper
  • Brightly-colored folders
  • Organizational binders
  • Construction paper
  • Scotch tape
  • Printer ink and paper
  • Bookmarks
  • Computer accessories
  • Stamps
  • Envelopes
  • Fun-shaped paper clips
  • Post-its
  • Gift card to their campus' college supply store

Don't forget fun items such as: 

  • music CDs
  • Colorful sticky labels
  • sketch books
  • video games
  • web cam
  • iTunes gift card

Other college care package ideas

A good idea is to send the care package in a plastic container. The plastic container can be re-used by your child while at college to separate clothes, school books or any other number of things. Make sure that all fragile items are packed securely and that you clearly label the container.

No matter which kind of care package you are sending, make sure to add a personal touch. Include a hand written note, pictures of the family, homemade cookies and anything else that will make your child feel loved and remain motivated to do well at college.

More information on back-to-school and going to college

How to cope when your child goes away to school
Dealing with homesickness
Shopping essentials for college students

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