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10 Ideas for the Perfect Freshman College Care Package

I remember the day I got my grandmother’s care package my freshman year of college. It was filled with homemade pizzelles (an Italian waffle cookie). I was the most popular girl on my hall that weekend. I felt so loved because she went to the trouble to make them, carefully wrap them so they wouldn’t break, and mail them several states away.

There are moments of homesickness for every college student, no matter what they tell you. And stresslots of stress—especially at exam time. There’s nothing like getting a care package. And online shopping makes it easier than ever to send a box of love to your college student. Here are some ideas of things to put in college care package:

What to Put in a College Care Package:

1. Comfort foods

The dining hall might seem like an unlimited smorgasbord, but Meat Loaf Mondays and Taco Tuesdays get old real quick. Send your student their favorite comfort foods, from cookies and muffins to microwavable mac and cheese. And if your student loves to dig into cookie dough even when you warn them about raw eggs, you can send them a tub of No Bake Edible Cookie Dough.

2. Pajamas and fuzzy socks

There will be times, like during exam week, when your kid will live in pajamas and sweats. Send them warm flannel PJ pants with fun patterns to lift their spirits, or comfy socks for finals.

3. Hygiene and self-care products

Your kid will start to run out of the necessities. Chances are they will also be pretty broke and would prefer to spend what little money they have on pizza instead of essentials like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Along with the essentials, you can include a gift certificate for a manicure or haircut at a salon near campus.

4. Gift cards for local restaurants

Speaking of places near campus, you can’t go wrong with gift cards to the restaurants near campus. It’s great to support the community and your kid will love being treated to an off-campus meal.

5. Health and wellness products

Health-conscious college students will appreciate a stainless steel water bottle. You can also send herbal teas, vitamins, granola bars, and trail mix.

6. Sugary treats

My college-age daughter suggests a candy care package. If your college student loves retro candy, like Fun Dip or Pop Rocks, you can order their favorites from Old Time Candy for an extra special surprise.

7. Caffeine

Burning the midnight oil is an essential part of college life. Make sure your college student gets their caffeine fix by sending gift cards to Starbucks or the local coffee shop. If they have a coffee maker in their dorm room, replenish their supply with their favorite coffee, or surprise them with a single-serving coffee maker and pods. Don’t forget the chocolate-covered espresso beans!

8. A piece of home

Use a website like Snapfish or Shutterfly to compile some favorite photos into a book of memories for your college student. Don’t forget pictures of the family pet!

9. Tech gifts

You can’t go wrong with tech gifts! Extra phone chargers are always appreciated—send one that’s extra-long so they can use it no matter where it’s plugged in—or splurge on a charging backpack to keep their laptop or tablet charged when they’re on the go. Every college student needs noise-cancelling headphones for studying in a noisy dorm and a laptop lock will protect their gear when they’re at the library.

10. A little zen

College can feel overwhelming, so send your kid a gift that will help bring them a little peace. My daughter took an electric salt lamp to college and my son loves his Bonsai, which you can have delivered by a local greenhouse or florist. If your college student loves the water, an EcoSphere is like a small, low-maintenance, self-contained fish tank. Finally, encourage mindfulness with a yoga mat or meditation cushion.

Whatever you include in your box, remember that the best thing about a care package isn’t necessarily what’s in it—it’s the love your kid will feel knowing you are thinking of them.

Erica Orloff is freelance writer and novelist based in Virginia. She is mom of four, a fanatical Yankees fan, and a collector of Buddha statues. Follow her on Twitter: @ericaorloff.

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