Best Care Package Deals for College Students

Delight your college student with these low-cost care package ideas


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College students are back in the dorms and even though they’ve only been away from home for a few weeks, chances are they’re already calling and asking for you to send their favorite items that they can’t get on campus. If your loved one is clamoring for a care package, your best – and most economical – bet is to avoid the pre-made types you can find online or through the school, and instead create your own.

Check out the following tips and ideas for putting together care packages that your student will love and that won’t break the bank.

1. Don’t Buy Heavy, Oddly-Shaped Items

If you think your child would be delighted to receive a care package with his or her favorite baseball bat, bowling ball, saxophone or television, you may want to reconsider that idea. The first order of business when creating a care package is to purchase products that you can ship at low cost. Most shippers base their transport costs on the weight and dimensions of the box you select, so you’ll ship for a lower cost if you send a baseball glove and a multipack of chewing gum than if you decide to ship a guitar and a 12-pack of soda.

2. Start With the Box

A smart idea is to buy the box first and then determine what you can fit into it. Many shipping companies offer flat-rate pricing for certain boxes. For example, the US Postal Service allows you to ship its biggest flat-rate box for under $19.00, as long as it weighs below 70 pounds (the smaller flat-rate boxes cost even less). The Priority Mail service typically allows for the box to arrive at the destination within two or three days, and the box itself is free.

You can pick up a box at the post office and then take it with you to the store so you can pick out items that will fit right inside of it so you know exactly what to buy and what will fit.

3. Create A Fun Mix of Items

When most of us think about care packages, we’re imaging a box stacked with home-baked goods and candies, but food isn’t the only thing you should be adding to the box. Students enjoy a wide variety of items in their care packages that go beyond snacks and treats, and it can be fun to for them to receive non-food products.

For example, if your child is a sports fan, you may want to fill the box with popcorn, peanuts, Big League Chew, a pair of ping pong paddles and balls, an athletic wear outfit and a baseball hat.

For the fashionista in your life, it can be fun to send some makeup, beauty supplies, a new outfit, some baked goods and a gift card for their favorite store.

And if it’s finals or midterms week, students don’t always have a chance to get to the cafeteria, so some healthy snacks like energy bars, mixed nuts, dried fruits can be a good idea, as well as de-stressing items like a book of meditations and a stress-relief ball.

4. Remember the Things All Students Can Use

There are some items that college students can make use of no matter what their personality is and what time of year it may be. Check out the following list of items that you may want to consider tossing into any care package:

  • Headphones. They’re often lost or missing but they’re always in demand.
  • Socks. Walking around the dorm is usually done in stocking feet, so socks can wear out quickly.
  • Phone chargers. Whether they’ve petered out or been misplaced, these are essential items that students often need.
  • Microwavable bowls or mugs. Students enjoy heating up cocoa, ramen, oatmeal and other items in the microwave, so a durable, microwaveable bowl or mug always comes in handy.
  • Razors. Whether your child is a male or female, they can always use a razor, and these lightweight items are simple to ship.

5. Keep Shipping Times in Mind

Suppose your child says he desperately misses the famous lemon cheesecake you make, so you decide to send one — but keep shipping times in mind when mailing food. Some items require constant refrigeration or will go bad after a day or two, and the faster your item needs to get there, the more it will cost you.