As a first-year college student, nothing put a smile on my face quite like knowing I had one of my mom’s college care packages waiting for me at the dorm. It started with an email from the mailroom saying a box would be available for pick-up that afternoon. It was hard to focus on the differences between classical and operant conditioning that my psychology professor explained when I would rather think about treats from home.
“How does she do it?” I wondered while eagerly munching on some chocolate chip cookies and looking through the rest of the box to see what she had chosen.
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College Care Packages — 50 Favorite Ideas
For the Homesick
The fastest way to make new friends is to share with hall mates, especially treats they can’t get on their meal plan. Homemade is incredible, and I loved getting chocolate chip cookies from my mom.
2. Granola or protein bars
I also love KIND bars and appreciate that she usually sent extras for my friends. KIND offers a subscription that lets you select the bars you want to add to your box and pick how frequently you want to send one.
A scent that reminds you of home will cover the smell of your dorm room and make you smile. These Nest Diffusers come in many beautiful scents and will last for the entire fall term.
4. Wall poster of a landmark from home
Dorm room walls are blank slates for every college student to decorate. Don’t forget to throw in a Command Poster Adhesive Strips package so that posters can be put up easily without damaging the walls.
5. Amazon Prime Student
Having a subscription to Amazon Prime is an excellent resource for ordering everything you suddenly realize you need as a student for free with overnight delivery. Now, students can get a 6-month FREE trial (for new members only) of Prime Student, which will cost $7.49/month after that.
A subscription to Prime Student comes with loads of perks…free delivery, what you want when you want — including 2-hour grocery delivery. Stream TV shows, movies, and ad-free music. Unlimited photo storage and try on clothes before you buy. Read tons of titles on any device. You can also rent textbooks and save up to 90%.
For the Health-Focused
Working out and eating healthy foods when relying on the cafeteria for most meals can be challenging, especially as a college freshman. Here are a few ways to help your student stay healthy:
6. Water bottle
I keep a water bottle in my backpack, which is a great way to stay hydrated. There are water stations in many of the buildings on campus, so I can keep it filled, and I never have to buy a plastic one. Hydro Flask water bottles are trendy, come in many sizes, and are available in many colors.
7. Microwaveable oatmeal
Making oatmeal is easy if you have a microwave in your dorm room. Quaker Oatmeal is my favorite brand, and it’s so easy to add hot water for a leisurely in-dorm breakfast or snack.
8. New workout gear
I try to work out in my apartment but going for a walk or a run is also a great way to stay fit. Lululemon is one of my favorite brands, and it is a real treat to get something new for working out or hanging out, especially since athleisure is most girls’ favorite way to dress! Athleta also has great leggings and other athleisure apparel that comes in various sizes, styles, and price points. These leggings with pockets are very comfortable and practical.
9. Purell hand sanitizer
It’s not always convenient to wash your hands before grabbing a snack on campus, and having one of these 4-ounce bottles in a backpack could come in very handy.
10. Sports bag
A small sports bag to carry gear in is a great care package gift, and Fanatics will have the largest selection you can find anywhere, with official licensing from NCAA and all the pro teams. This small and lightweight bag is all I needed to carry things to the gym and back again.
11. Wireless earbuds
These are a little bit of luxury that any college student would love, and the Jabra Elite brand gets top reviews for earbuds to wear while working out.
For the Fashionista
12. Laptop and phone case decals
As a college student, the easiest way to express your style is on your laptop. You bring it everywhere, and even on the mornings when you don’t feel like changing out of sweatpants, your computer can still be well dressed with a cute decal.
13. Hair Ties
They add a pop of color, and you can never have too many!
14. Kyle Cavan Jewelry
Kyle Cavan jewelry makes some of the most unique and beautiful jewelry pieces I have ever seen for college students. They have official licensing deals with 100 colleges, but you can always design something personal for your daughter even if her college is not (yet) included on their list.
This company was founded by two young women who have been friends since they were 14, and I love everything they have built.
For the Sports Fan
15. T-shirts and sweatshirts in school colors
We can never have enough clothing items with our college logos on them. The campus bookstore is a logical place to shop, but Fanatics has the widest selection of college logo apparel, accessories, etc.
16. Outdoor games
There are ways to get a group together and still practice social distancing outdoors. A corn hole game is a beautiful gift to send if your teen is looking for something to set up on the quad or at a tailgate.
Books for college care packages
17. Do Your Laundry, or You’ll Die Alone: Advice, Your Mom, Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening
Becky Blades is the super-talented author and illustrator who wrote this gorgeous book for her two off-to-college daughters. It is pretty perfect for any college girl.
18. The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College
Harlan Cohen has written the classic book for first-year college students, and this can be the go-to guide for students whenever they encounter a sticky situation.
19. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World
Admiral William McRaven delivered this graduation address to students at UT Austin, and it became an instant classic. He will encourage and inspire your student through this challenging first semester at college with the simple advice he offers.
20. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse
This beautiful book, written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy, is filled with warmth and love and will remind your student of family values like kindness, friendship, and home…
Looking for a treat for YOURSELF or to give as a gift to another parent of a teen? Now — The Grown and Flown book is available in paperback!
More ideas for college care packages
21. She’s Birdie personal alarm
This small personal alarm might be just the thing to help your daughter prepare for a situation where she feels frightened. Pull the pin to activate a loud alarm and flashing strobe light to create a diversion. The pin can be replaced and reused.
And now, there’s Birdie+, the second-generation alarm with enhanced options, including:
connection to a live representative 24/7 (the US only)
the ability to trigger an excuse-to-leave call to remove herself from a sticky situation
location sharing with her emergency contacts
monthly or annual subscription
Save 10% on qualifying purchases as we are Brand Ambassadors. Use this code at checkout: GROWNANDFLOWNFF
We can never, ever have enough new socks. These Notes to Self socks have many positive words to choose from that will remind your son or daughter how proud you are of them.
23. Anker Powerline+ II Lightning Cable
The outlets in most dorm rooms are so far away from our beds that it’s inconvenient to keep a phone plugged in to charge overnight. This one is 10 feet long, charges my phone fast, and is durable.
24. Silly games
My hallmate’s mom ordered yo-yos and paddleball games during midterms, which were fun, stress-reducing toys we loved playing with.
25. Anker Portable Charger
Having a phone with a dead battery is a preventable problem if your student has a lightweight charger back to thrown into a backpack.
26. Seasonal decorations/treats
Halloween candy would be a fun gift, especially if you send enough for your student to share with others.
27. Left Center Right
People love this dice game — it is a top seller among Grown and Flown families — and would make a perfect small gift for a college care package.
28. Tervis Tumblers
Tervis Tumblers are available with many college logos; they can also be personalized with initials or other designs. These insulated cups are indestructible.
29. YETI Mug
Another fantastic care package item is a legendary YETI tumbler; if you have the time to personalize it with your student’s initials or college logo, this will be a gift your student will love to use for years to come.
30. Therapy Dough
Gift your student a trip down memory lane to the days of squeezing, molding, and shaping the dough into anything the heart desired with this grown-up version of therapy putty that provides adult benefits: aromatherapy and stress relief. Available in lavender, pine, orange, or eucalyptus.
31. Grown and Flown — Inspired Care Package from CampusCube
Your son or daughter would love this care package from CampusCube, in partnership with Grown and Flown, which includes an assortment of high-quality snacks and a card that can be personalized. And, if you want to do something nice for your mom to thank her for all she did to help you get ready for college, get her the Grown and Flown spa package.
NOW! Save $5 on any care package — Discount Code: GF5
32. Mario Badescu Spritz Mist and Glow Facial Spray Collection, 3 Piece Set — Lavender, Cucumber, Rose Your daughter will love receiving a collection of these trendy facial sprays.
33. Fjallraven Laptop Backpack
These stylish, lightweight backpacks can be used daily by your college student and are an updated look at what they might have taken to high school.
34. Lokai Bracelets
These simple bead bracelets are lovely, and the company donates 10% of net profits to charity. There are collaborations with Disney, sports teams, and a collegiate collection! Use codeword GFFamilyandFriends at checkout for a 20% discount as we are Ambassadors.
35. Jack Black Lip Balm
Jack Black has a line of lip balms with SPF 25 sunscreen and is available with light flavoring. It is considered a men’s brand but the lip balms are excellent for anyone.
36. Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
This is my other favorite lip balm for cold weather, and I like keeping tubes in my backpack and on my desk.
37. Mug Cake
Most students have access to a microwave and these mug cakes could be a yummy treat.
38. Bluetooth Speaker
The UE Wonderboom 2 gets the highest reviews for a wireless speaker.
39. Blue-light-blocking glasses
Students use their laptops to study for long hours and then scroll through their phones for relaxation before bed. Wearing a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses when staring at their screens might help them fall and stay asleep when they eventually put their phones down.
This company makes dozens of highly-reviewed styles that would work well for college guys or women.
My mom always reminded me to wear it, so I am never surprised when she includes a bottle in a care package. Here are some of the bestselling sunscreen brands.
41. Nail polish
A gift of Essie Nail Polish in school colors would make for a sporty look for a manicure.
42. Spalding NBA Slam Jam Over-The-Door Mini Basketball Hoop
Sometimes guys (and girls) just want to goof around, and this fun toy is a great way to do so.
43. Revlon hairdryer/volumizer
This is much more than a blow dryer; your daughter will love hers as she styles and dries her hair when she wants to look her best for a class or night out.
44. Journaling pens
These super-popular pens are meant for journaling but they can obviously be used for anything you would need a regular pen for including note taking, color-coding a paper calendar or just doodling. Set includes 18 colors.
45. Microwavable popcorn popper
Popcorn is a low-calorie, high-fiber snack, and this is an easy-to-manage microwavable popper.
46. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty
This reminds me of the Silly Putty I used to play with as a kid.
Replenish their toiletries, including a new toothbrush.
Your kid would be so happy to get an extra few dollars to spend. Everyone loves this!
49. Plastic plates, bowls, etc
If they need some lightweight, easy-to-store plates and bowls, these are very cute from Target.
50. Letter from home
Nothing cheers any college student up more than a handwritten letter from home.