If you don’t have kids of your own in college, I bet there’s a good chance that you know someone who does. It could be a niece or nephew, a grandson or granddaughter, or the kid across the street. One thing a lot of these students have in common is missing their family and friends back home.

One way to help out the students in your life is by sending them a care package. But what do you put in them? When I was in college, I was lucky enough to receive several care packages a year from my mom, and, frankly, besides the cash which was usually stashed somewhere inside the box, a handwritten letter was my favorite thing.

Besides, a handwritten letter and cold hard cash, what are some other goodies you can stuff inside a small package and ship off to your favorite undergrad. To get the answer, I went straight to the source: my niece Raven, who just completed her freshman year of college.

Here are some suggestions from her and some of her classmates:

Snacks. All kinds of snacks.

I asked if they could be a little more specific.

1. Chocolate

I love chocolate, my niece loves chocolate, but chocolate doesn’t do well when sent through the mail, but I could send hot cocoa. They reminded me to get the sugar-free kind because several of them were worried about the Freshman 15. I sent the hot chocolate and went to the dollar store and picked out two colorful, matching mugs (for her roommate) covered with hearts. 

2. Individual mixed packages of crackers

Crackers come in many different flavors and packaging options. I thought about sending a box of saltines as a joke, but they would have taken up too much space. The students wanted mixed flavors so they could trade for other things on the hall that other students didn’t want. A great option to choose is Lance Sandwich Crackers which offers a variety pack of cheese, peanut butter, and sour cream & chive for less than $10. 

3. Twizzlers, Gummy Bears, and Skittles

Now that your box is nearly halfway full, it’s time to decide which candies will have the most significant impact. One bag of each? Multiples of one and single packs of another? I told my niece that the care package was only so big, so she should decide which candy was her favorite.

She had the perfect answer: Buy in bulk and send them along in the next care package.

4. Personal Items

Another good option to send in a care package is personal care products. You can choose things like shampoo, toothpaste, mouthwash, new washcloths, and other inexpensive items to remind them of home. For the male undergrads in your life, things like razors, shaving cream, and a bottle of their favorite aftershave are fun ways to show you care. And for young women, feminine hygiene products, facial scrubs, cotton balls, and nail polish are sure to be a big hit. 

Other items which may be beneficial, especially during the colder months, are gloves and mittens, sweatshirts, and fuzzy socks and slippers. Plus, a cozy hat or earmuffs will help ward off the chill of winter. 

5. Fast Food Gift Cards

Perhaps, there’s no better way to make a college kid happy than to stuff a gift card or two somewhere inside the package. Fast food restaurants are great places for students to grab a quick bite, hang out with their friends, or utilize the free WiFi to catch up on their studying. One thing to consider before purchasing a fast food gift card is to make sure the restaurant you choose is walking distance from campus. Some colleges allow only upperclassmen to have cars, so transportation to a restaurant across town may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth.

And if you still have room in the box, things like beef jerky, Ramen noodles, and peanut butter are great options to send along.

Nearly a month after sending out care packages to my niece, I usually received a handwritten letter, which, in part, read:

“Thanks so much for the stuff, Auntie. Everyone on my hall appreciates it.
And I really like the letters you write and searching for the money.”

I guess some things never change. Have fun sending care packages to the college students in your life. It’s a small gesture which can make a significant impact in someone’s life by showing them how much you care.

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Man taping a package.

About the Author

Gianetta Palmer

Guest Blogger

Gianetta Palmer is a freelance writer for 360 Quote living in the mountains of northeast Georgia.