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Crafting the perfect care package for your college student is a cinch

Sarah grew up in Monterey, CA and now lives in Los Angeles. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying a good book, fine wine, sunflowers and long walks on the beach.

Bring your college student the comforts of home with a fun dorm room care package

Though it definitely has it's high points, being a college student is rough. They're broke, they're slammed with all their schoolwork, and most of the time, they're away from home for the first time. Did we mention they're broke?

The above reasons are a recipe for homesickness, but you can help ease your child's transition to living on their own by sending them a care package filled with all the comforts of home. Care packages should be the perfect blend of fun items and essentials — all the things your kid would love, but wouldn't think to purchase on their own.

Here are some ideas to get you started in crafting the perfect package to make your child smile. Don't be afraid to add a personal touch like a sweet note or family photo — and jazzing things up with seasonal holiday items is always a good idea. They may not always let you know, but your college student is missing the whole family back home like crazy.

More: 11 college hazing stories that make Animal House look tame

Foods to snack on

As soon as your kid moves into a dorm situation, mini-fridges and hotplates rule supreme, so foods that require little preparation are always ideal. The idea is to send snack foods that are fun, tasty, nonperishable and satiating — because most on-campus cafeterias aren't open 24/7.

Homemade cookies keep well, and bring that little taste of home to your student. For an extra bonus, send a gift card to their favorite restaurant. It's not exactly the same as a home-cooked meal, but it beats the heck out of eating microwaved Cup O' Noodles with a plastic spork.

Here are some more food item ideas:

  • Beef jerky
  • Bottled water
  • A bag of their favorite candy
  • Raw nuts
  • 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

Dorm room essentials

If you've never lived in a dorm or a college apartment yourself, just know that things can get nasty really quick. Students are more preoccupied with socializing and studying than cleaning, so hygiene and a clean living space play second fiddle in most cases.

That doesn't man your student has to live in a pigsty. Send along some things that can keep them clean, healthy and living in a space that doesn't scream "squalor." And we swear every child appreciates a pair of warm fuzzy socks much more the second they move out of your home.

  • Framed photo of family pet/pets
  • An extra set of sheets
  • A new pillow
  • Fun smelling candles
  • Antibacterial spray
  • Clorox disinfecting wipes
  • A hairbrush or comb
  • Towels and wash cloths
  • New underwear
  • Shampoo
  • Mesh pouf bath sponge on a rope
  • Makeup essentials (like mascara and lip gloss)
  • Flip flops to wear in the shower
  • Body wash
  • Deodorant
  • Contact solution
  • Lip balm
  • Yummy smelling lotions or body spray
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mini first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment, etc.
  • Air freshener
And no dorm room would be complete without a little party time, so don't forget fun items, too.
  • iTunes gift cards are always welcome
  • Video games
  • Sketch books
  • Cute decorations (picture frames, framed art, etc.) 
  • Add-ons for their computer
  • Simple deck of playing cards

School supplies

When you barely haven enough money to buy food, it's hard to shell out extra shekels on pens and paper, but students still gotta study.

Enter the perfect care package, topped off with everything your little teacher's pet could possibly need on their road to academic success.

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

What are your favorite things to send in a college care package?

Originally published July 2008. Updated November 2016.

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