Here are ideas and things to check on when making college care packages for your favorite college student — plus ideas for homemade treats!
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Ah, college life. It's an exciting and life-changing experience to be away from home, and truly independent for the first time. It can also be more than a little overwhelming, especially when the reality of long classes and late nights sets in. Plus a little homesickness.
Care packages from home with treats, self-care items, and lots of love from you is just what students need in those moments!
Here are a few helpful tips for sending college care packages, plus ideas for themed packages and homemade treats.
Share these with family members and friends who are getting ready to send care packages of their own!
Check on the college mailroom service
The package and letter processing at college mailrooms may be slow, especially at the start of the school year and during the holidays. And that's on top of the transit time for your package just to reach the school.
For non-perishable items this is no big deal, but if you're sending homemade treats, you won't want them sitting unopened for days on end.
Ask your student how the mail/package delivery has been. One alternative to mailing the package is to send them with a friend headed in that direction. (A great reason to connect with families whose kids are attending college in the same area as your kid.) Amazon Pantry is another easy option to send prepackaged treats. Speaking of prepackaged treats...
Send convenience foods
Even with ample dining hall options, having these convenience foods in her dorm room (along with her microwave and mini fridge) made it easier to hunker down for intense blocks of studying and work. They also help on busy mornings when students need to dash to class with no time to buy breakfast.
Some good choices for prepackaged foods include Goldfish, energy bars, fruit pouches, Cup O'Noodles, jerky sticks, and popcorn.
One more note about popcorn: sending microwave popcorn is a no-brainer, but another great option is a glass popcorn popper. They're used in the microwave with less expensive, bagged popping corn, and they eliminate the waste of one-use microwave bags.
Check the weather
Forget the temp outside: ask your student what the temperature is inside their dorm! Many dorm rooms have no air conditioning, and may stay sticky and hot even in the fall.
Before you send a box of chocolaty cookies or fudge doomed to melt, check with your student first to see if your snacks will hold up. During the hotter, more humid days stick with cookies and snacks that will hold up in the heat. (Save the melty stuff for cooler weather.)
Throw in some extras
Extras for the packages can be practical, silly, or heartfelt — or all three! How about specialty toppings for all that microwave popcorn, a silly toy, or handwritten notes from everyone in the house.
Ideas for themed care packages:
Cold & Flu Season Care Package
Being away from home that first time you get sick really stinks! A care package with comforting, self-care items is so thoughtful. Think tissues, cold medicine, herbal teas, and instant chicken noodle soup.
Vitamin C supplements like Emergen-C are also a good idea, because if one student has the creeping crud, you can bet the whole dorm floor does too.
Pantry Items Care Package
Does your student have a kitchen in their dorm, or their first apartment? You know they won't remember to pick up kitchen basics until they're too hungry to think straight! Send packaged mixes for baked goods, spices to stock their cabinets, plus baking and cooking staples.
If your student has a favorite dish that you always made for them at home, send the recipe along with the shelf-stable ingredients they'll need to put it together.
Mid-Terms & Exam Week Care Package
Three words: caffeine, sugar and salt: the three basic necessities when you're stressed out and need to stay awake for all-night studying and writing! Sweet and salty snack mixes hit the spot here, along with tea and coffee: instant coffee if they don't have access to a coffee maker, or K-Cups.
This is a good time for gift cards too: to Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Taco Bell. Check the college's food service page on their website — in addition to special dining events to get students through exam weeks, some have options for parents to order special treats for students to pick up.
While pre-packaged stuff is helpful and thoughtful, my informal poll of college students reveals without a doubt: homemade treats RULE! There's no better way to show how much you care than the time and effort put into home-baked snacks.
Here are some recipe ideas for your college care package: sweets and treats that are delicious and will hold up well to shipping:
💬 What are you putting in your college care package? Leave a comment below!