The weeks leading up to college campus move-in day are all about your student–will the roommates be weird, what textbooks do they need, where do you find those infernal yet universally-required XL twin sheets for the dorm. You may wonder if you’re about to be upstaged by their influx of new friends or the cornucopia of dining hall desserts, but don’t panic, parents. This is your moment.
The days after they’ve left for school provide the perfect opportunity for you to collect some college care package inspiration–both for your current peace of mind and your child’s future delight. With a bit of planning and a few college gift ideas, you can send a care package that will arrive just about the same time they’ve settled in and started to miss home (it’s that darn parental sixth sense again) or maybe when things start getting stressful during finals week.. Unlike that text with the questionable emoji you sent last week, a personalized box of surprises is a failsafe way to get them to call and catch you up on campus life.
Of course the first box of goodies you send should be a special one–but know that whatever you pack will set their expectations high for years to come (that’s where we come in!). The key to creating a great care package full of gifts for your student is to include surprises she likely wouldn’t find on her own–probably not in her roommate’s care packages, and certainly not in the campus bookstore. You know your child better than anyone: their favorite foods and hobbies, how they like to decorate their room, the school supplies they always seem to lose or forget and–most importantly–what makes them laugh.
Your care package ideas don’t have to be outrageous or elaborate, they simply have to be genuine.
Many college student care packages fall short on creativity–junk food and novelty gag gifts abound, but those just clutter the dorm room and invite the notorious Freshman 15 (yup, that’s still a thing). We’ve made it easier to make a thoughtful gift box with three basic formulas you can follow when you’re deciding what to send to your college student.
The Survival Exam Kit, Healthy Care Package, and “Just Because” Gift
- There’s the “College Survival Kit” approach, mostly practical but a little bit novel. They’ll appreciate the encouragement as they revel in their newfound independence or prepare for midterm exams.
- There’s the “Spoil ‘Em Rotten” philosophy–send a treasure chest of all their favorite treats and healthy snacks, plus some fun nonessentials or cozy gifts for the dorm room.
- Then there’s the “Just Because” care package, where anything goes. She’s mentioned late night snack runs with the roomies? Send candy (or something more substantial if you have concerns about scurvy). Your formerly scruffy high school senior had a grooming revelation and has become downright dapper? By all means, let the boy preen. Big organic chemistry test next week? Send reinforcements of caffeine.
By now, we hope you’re brimming with inspiration. Check out our college care package resources for more ideas about what to send your student, or brainstorm with this thoughtful list from Grown & Flown.