12 Terrific Ideas for College Care Packages

Ideas for college care packages should come from your students’ favorite foods, activities, or even movies. Care packages let you surprise your students and show that you are thinking about them and loving them across the miles. Not everyone’s college students call or text every day or even every other day even though they have smartphones in their pockets. They are off learning and exploring. They are goal-setting and, let’s be honest, they are having a bit of fun, too.

It is no different than when you went to college and your parents were lucky to chat with you once a week at an arranged time on a landline. Remember getting a card or letter from your parents? Happy mail, always puts a smile on everyone’s face, especially a package. You can purchase a variety of unique care packages online or you can unleash the Craft Queen hidden inside of you and create your own unique care package.

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Ideas for College Care Packages that Include Food

Even if your college students live in the dorm with an all-you-can-eat food plan, snacks and treats always are welcome. Care packages packed with food enough to share are a great way for your college student to meet new friends. And, if your college students live in apartments where they have to cook all their meals, a care package full of food can be a great reprieve for the students living on a budget of Ramen noodles and lunchmeat sandwiches.

I Want Candy!

Ideas for college care packages that include candy are sure to bring a sweet smile to your student. My College Crate offers a variety of care packages with 40 treats to satisfy sugar cravings from chocolate, fruity, gummy, and sour. Each package weighs more than 3 pounds!

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If your college students enjoy caramel, check out ideas for college care packages at Southern Caramel. You can send a sweet sample pack to your college student that includes four quarter-pound boxes of sweet caramel, each in a different flavor: original, salted, bourbon, coffee, apple pie, honey, or lime salted. Southern Caramel also has a larger gift box that features 1.75 pounds of caramels and an 8-ounce jar of salted caramel sauce, too. Is your mouth watering yet?

READ MORE: How Lessons Learned From College Soccer Prepared Me For Being A Lawyer

For a truly surprise care package, Sugarwish offers care packages that include up to six flavors of cotton candy. Can you imagine getting cotton candy in the mail during finals week? The sugary delight of cotton candy brings a smile to your face even before you eat it. Sugarwish has 14 cotton candy flavors to choose from.

I Want Snacks!

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You can find a variety of ideas for college care packages that include many types of snacks. SnackMagic lets you easily send a themed care package with treats from Around the World, Foodie Forward, or Crowd Pleaser. SnackMagic also lets you purchase a gift card for your college students so they can visit the snack delivery website and pick out their own treats. It’s so easy to scroll through the snack varieties to pick favorites from categories like Crunchies, Granola & Oats, Dried Fruit, Shots & Smoothies, Cold Brew, Mixers, Dips & Salsas, Baking Mixes, Seasonings & Spices, Snack Bars, and much, much more.

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The Popcorn Factory lets you order popcorn care packages in tins customized with a photo or a personal message. Now don’t upload an embarrassing photo and send it to your college student, but do have some fun. Popcorn Factory also has a number of tins and bowls that feature sports teams and encouraging messages. They even have a tin that you can relax and color with markers.

Amazon boasts many snack-filled care packages like the Cravebox Care Package, which includes chips, granola bars, and much more. Of course, you can keep it simple if you do not feel the need to impress with the beautiful packaging, and just order your student’s favorite munchies in bulk either on Amazon or from your favorite big box store. It is a fun treat to receive a giant box of individual bags of their favorite chips, jerky, granola bars, or candy. Remember, sometimes college dorms and apartments do not have a lot of storage space so don’t order too much.

I Want Pasta!

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What college student does not love pasta? Even if your students are living in the dorm, most have a shared kitchenette down the hall where than can cook up a simple meal once in a while with the pots and pans they check out from the front desk. You can up the dinner game with a Pastene Campus Survival Kit. It includes spaghetti, rigatoni, bucatini, grated parmesan cheese, diced tomatoes with green chilies, pizza sauce, and tomato basil sauce. Pastene even has gluten-free noodles for those with allergies.  

Harry & David offers an Italian Fare gift box that will make your college students living in off-campus apartments feel gourmet – at least for one night. The gift box includes garlic angel hair pasta, classic bruschetta, green olive spread, roasted peppers with garlic, and puttanesca pasta sauce.

Read More: 10 Books Every High School Student Should Read Before Graduation

I Want It All!

You can use a SHIPT shopper (or another delivery service) and order fresh food and gifts from a local store near your students. If you already subscribe to SHIPT for yourself, you simply plug in your student’s address. You select the store you want. SHIPT shoppers love to earn tips. Once they text you to confirm your order and see if you want anything else, you can tell them they are actually shopping for your college student. Several college moms have reported that their SHIPT shoppers have gone above and beyond packaging up the order in gift bags and even picking out and signing a card for the delivery. Doesn’t hurt to ask. Be sure to tip accordingly.

Ideas for College Care Packages that Include Love

Some Moms become friends with their college students while others see their college students pull away as they try to find their path in life. No matter what your relationship with college students, trying to find ideas for college care packages that fill the heart not just the belly can be tough. But, the Little Love Jar is a unique way to send love and advice to your students.

Visit the website and start a jar by getting a link to write messages, memories, advice, jokes, scripture, poems, whatever you would like. You can fill up all the messages yourself or you can send the link to friends and family who can send in their messages of love, too. Up to 175 messages are typed and carefully folded and placed in a simple but beautiful jar. Can you picture your college students opening each note filled with love from you, as well as their dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends?

Read More: Drowning in Debt? See If You Qualify For Student Loan Forgiveness.

Another way to send love in the mail is by literally sending a Love Cozy Pillow. Natural Life offers several pillows that can be tucked into a care package, perfect to motivate your college student. Decorated with bright letters spelling LOVE, the pink and blue tassels on the corners of the Love Cozy Pillow will remind your student of home. Other Cozy Pillows by Natural Life boast messages like “BeYOUtiful” and “Today I Will Not Stress Over Things I Cannot Control.” 

Ideas for College Care Packages that You Can Make Yourself

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Homemade care packages do not necessarily cost less money but they can be fun to pour yourself into a craft. Of course, you can do an old-fashioned care package. The kind where you put several of your student’s favorite things in a box and mail it without fancy bows and decorations but with a short note or card.

But for those Mamas who have an inner Craft Queen, you can get creative. Start with a simple box and decorate the inner flaps with pictures, inspiring messages, or pop-out designs, so when your student opens the box it brings a surprise even before they get to the gift.

Paper Paisley offers pre-made box-flap stickers that fit the large USPS Priority Mail flat rate boxes. The stickers boast messages ranging from Finals Week Survival Kit and Happy Birthday to Sending You a Hug in a Box. These are great ideas for college care packages.

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A popular do-it-yourself care package today is from Moms who take an empty heart candy box (after they enjoy the chocolates, of course) and put folded money into each chocolate wrapper. This is where the crafty part comes in, look around your home – most homes have many disposable one-time-use plastics and boxes that you can use to wrap surprises or use as a mailing container. For example, you can paint a Folgers coffee container in bright colors, and an orange Tide Pod container (after being washed out completely) can be decorated like a jack-o-lantern and packed full of little gifts. Be creative. Think outside the box when coming up with ideas for college care packages.

Fill your college care packages with a theme: Harry Potter items, Jurassic Park items, Hello Kitty, Movie Night (microwave popcorn and boxed candy), So Cheesy (cheese crackers, Cheetos, Moon Cheese), spa day (nail polish, face masks, loofah), etc.

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To come up with your own ideas for college care packages just think of something your students enjoy now or that they did when they were little and embrace that as the theme. Sometimes you will know right away what items to include, other times you might search Amazon, the Dollar Store, and even their bedrooms at home for items to send. The goal is to send love and encouragement through the miles. Easy themes are the big holidays Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and birthdays.


Your college students will love whatever ideas for college care packages you send. Keep in mind, dorm life, and often college apartment life is done so in tiny little spaces so be careful sending items that take up precious storage that is not consumable. In addition to snacks and treats, great items to include in care packages are a few school supplies, memory storage, handwritten notes, drawings from younger siblings, a new shirt and, even an old favorite one they may have forgotten at home. So, send a smile and a hug in the mail for your college students’ birthdays, final weeks, and every holiday in between now and when you see them.

Want to Read More?

Check out this article on the Advantages Of Being A College Athlete.

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Carla J. Eskew
Carla J. Eskew is a freelance writer, wife, and mom of two children who are nine years apart. She is a Scout leader with 15 years of experience in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. She serves as a volunteer at school, church, and with the homeless population. She loves road trips, sightseeing, camping, and pilates. But, her new love is her 1-year-old black standard poodle puppy, Midnight Shadow.

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