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College Dorm Care Package Tips

Updated on February 5, 2013

Valentine's Day Care Package

This valentine-themed care package contains 3 boxes Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, plush Minnie, 3 boxes conversation hearts, with random hard candy, crinkle paper and tissue as cushioning. Fits in USPS Medium flat rate box.
This valentine-themed care package contains 3 boxes Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies, plush Minnie, 3 boxes conversation hearts, with random hard candy, crinkle paper and tissue as cushioning. Fits in USPS Medium flat rate box. | Source

Make a Care Package

Other than cash, nothing is more welcome to a kid away at college than a care package from home. The contents need not be fancy, but something that is heartfelt, fun, or at least tasty is nice. What students appreciate most is something that reminds them of home, like their favorite cookies or homemade brownies; candy or food items that can't be found at school; a t-shirt or cap; a favorite game or movie. A Girl Scout troop leader I know sends her former scouts pictures from their scouting days, along with Girl Scout cookies to kick off the cookie season.


  • Careful packing is a must, as any care package sent to college will likely get jostled around quite a bit. It may experience temperature extremes as well, something to keep in mind if sending chocolate or anything that could melt.
  • Flat rate boxes from the US Postal Service are nearly perfect for care packages. The medium sized boxes in particular are a great size and ship at reasonable rates.
  • Label the box clearly, don't forget dorm routing numbers and such. Send a text or email when you mail a box so your student will be on the lookout for its arrival, and it won't sit in the mailroom until semester break.
  • Wrap toiletries like soaps, lotions, and scents in zippered plastic bags, either quart-sized or gallon-sized, and double bag if possible. In the event of a spill or leak, it will at least be contained and not spoil everyone else's mail.
  • Try using individually wrapped hard candies as packing material, instead of packing peanuts, during cooler months. They can be shared with the dorm and there is less waste to throw away or recycle. During warmer months, use crinkle-cut paper in different colors to add a festive air. The paper can be upcycled for art class projects, reused or recycled.
  • Try not to overwhelm your student with too many care packages. Start with one every other month or so, and ask if it's too much.

Care Package Boxes

Flat rate USPS boxes are the perfect size for care packages.
Flat rate USPS boxes are the perfect size for care packages. | Source

Party-in-a-box Care Packages

  • If your student isn't planning to be home for her birthday, you'll want to send a gift of course. But you may also want to send something that her dorm friends can share. Send a party-in-a-box, complete with birthday confetti, hats, fancy napkins, and paper plates. Complete the box with a few dozen of her favorite homemade cookies, or a gift card for fancy cupcakes.
  • For a former Girl Scout away from home, send a cookie party-in-a-box at Girl Scout cookie time. Include an assortment of Girl Scout cookies, scout-themed paper plates, scout green napkins and plates. Add a song book of Girl Scout songs and a Fun Patch or two, just for grins.
  • For a milestone birthday, like a 21st birthday, send items in counts of 21, like 21 small candy bars, 21 lollypops, 21 green army men, a gift card with $21 on it, 21 rubber duckies, or 21 pairs of socks.

College Care Package

Friends from home make up a nice care package, particularly when accompanied by candy.
Friends from home make up a nice care package, particularly when accompanied by candy. | Source

Holiday Themed Care Packages

A holiday is a great excuse to send a care package, and party stores are filled with inexpensive themed items that can help fill a box. Keep it simple, but use themed packing materials, holiday candies, a card or two, or something fun that your student can share with roommates and friends.

  • An Easter basket in a box is always a big hit, as students away from home still appreciate the traditions of the holiday. Use Easter grass as packing material, and fill the box with candy eggs, plastic filled eggs, small plush animals that would look nice in a dorm room, and maybe a pair of bunny ears.
  • Valentine's Day in a box has all sorts of possibilities. Pick up inexpensive class packs of valentines, fill out and include a small handful. Add a box or two of conversation hearts, a plush heart and a dozen homemade heart-shaped cookies. Use candy as packing material, or red crinkle paper for a festive look.
  • Halloween is a big campus event, with students dressing up and even trick-or-treating in the dorms. Rather than sending a complete costume that might not get used, send a Halloween-themed movie, along with candy, a couple of simple masks or a wig,and ghoulish nail polish or decals. Use polyfiber "spider web" material for cushioning.

Care Package Suggestions

Box Contents
Movie night in a box
Boy scout popcorn, hot cocoa mix, DVDs
Halloween in a box
Candy, mask, wig, ghoulish nail polish
Thanksgiving in a box
Homemade pumpkin bread, pecans, plush turkey
Christmas in a box
Dorm decor, candy canes, mini tree
Superbowl in a box
Nerf football, team t-shirts, cheeses, salami, crackers
Hearts in a box
Plush heart, conversation hearts, valentines, heart cookies
Easter in a box
Easter basket, marshmallow Peeps, bunny ears
Spring in a box
Chia pet, homemade cookies, indoor garden
Ready for summer in a box
Sunscreen, cap, summer novel, beach toys
Suggestions for themed care packages, month by month

College Care Package Service

Commercial care package services exist that will be happy to take your order and deliver a nice gift box to your student. These services are convenient, and are appreciated by students even if the items aren't homemade or handpicked by you. Check the college's website first to see if there are any companies they recommend, or if there is an on-campus service that makes up care packages. Otherwise, an Internet search of "college care package service" will generate an extensive list.

Don't forget local companies that make specialty cookies, candies or other goods that your student can't get while away at school. You may be able to order online and have something sent directly to your student, saving you some time.


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    • prokidwriter profile image

      KA Hanna 6 months ago from America's Finest City

      Thanks for your comment Alexis!

    • AlexisG profile image

      Alexis 6 months ago

      This is awesome and I love how you laid our suggestions by month. Care packages are always a joy to get!

    • prokidwriter profile image

      KA Hanna 5 years ago from America's Finest City

      Thanks kj force and dreamhowl! Tea bags and PB are a great idea -could do a cute box with tea, homemade brownies, PB, scones, some cute paper plates and a bear. Teddy bear tea party in a box!

    • kj force profile image

      kjforce 5 years ago from Florida

      prokidwriter...Awesome write..very interseting and informative..brought back memories of my college/ Med School days ( which date back many moons ! ) my mom used to send me those kind of packages..and there was always Peanut Butter inside..and tea bags..

      many all nighters spent studying and the PB/tea ..kept me awake..thanks for the share...

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Marello 5 years ago from United States

      Great hub! I especially love your table. Care packages always made me feel better - college can be so stressful. Voted up!