Care Package Ideas for College Students

Useful, Helpful, and Thoughtful Care Package Ideas

Create a care package that your college student will want to open.
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A care package can mean the world to a college student who is away from home. Not only is it fun to get mail, but a few reminders from home can ward off homesickness.

Whether your teen lives in a dorm, fraternity or sorority house, or an apartment, there are a variety of useful, sentimental or tasty treats you can send in a care package.

Food Items for Care Packages

Quick snacks, late night treats, and a few homemade goodies are perfect for the busy college student.

Many of those small purchases add up quickly and take a big bite out of a college student's tight budget.

Make sure the food is non-perishable and will ship well. Package the items carefully as well, as you don't want the items to get crushed during shipping. 

Quick Snacks

  • Potato chips
  • Granola bars
  • Pretzels
  • Microwave popcorn

Microwavable Meals

  • Ramen noodles
  • Canned pasta meals
  • Soup packages
  • Instant oatmeal

Sweet Treats

  • Cookies
  • Mints
  • Gum
  • Candy bars or other chocolate

Drink Mixes

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Hot cocoa

Items That Make Living With Roommates Easier

If your teen was used to having his own room and now he's sharing, living with a roommate can be a bit of a shock to the system. If he goes to sleep early and his roommate is a night owl he might have trouble sleeping. Or, if his roommate insists he can't sleep without listening to the radio, or your teen prefers complete silence, he might find dorm life to be a bit daunting.

Here are some items that might make his transition to living with a roommate a bit easier. 

  • Noise canceling headphones
  • Sleep mask
  • Ear plugs
  • Items to share (like cookies)

Personal Items for Care Packages

Sometimes, college students lack the time and money to stock up on the day-to-day personal items they might need.


The Essentials

  • Shower gel or hand soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairspray, gel, or their favorite hair styling product
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Razor
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush

Shower Accessories

  • Shower shoes
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Loofah

Special Items

  • Makeup or a gift certificate that lets them stock up on their own
  • Contact lens solution or eyeglass cleaner
  • Hair care items
  • Cold medicine 

School Supplies

Many college students aren't sure what they'll need for school supplies until a week or two into the semester. It's safe to say most any college student could use these school supplies in a care package:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Notebooks
  • Sticky notes
  • Highlighters

Other Care Package Item Ideas

There are a number of other items that almost every college student needs. A few are useful in the dorm or apartment and ones that young adults may not think about picking up at the store. Other items you might include are sentimental items that will remind your child that you are thinking of him while he's away from home.

Useful Items

  • Laundry detergent
  • Fabric softener
  • Dish soap
  • Dish towels
  • All-purpose spray cleaner
  • Air freshener
  • Trash can liners
  • Gift cards to a store or restaurant
  • Dorm room decorations

Items That Say, "I'm thinking of you."

  • Recent magazine
  • Recent hometown newspaper
  • Motivational book
  • Devotional book
  • Pictures of recent event
  • Letters and drawings from younger siblings
  • Video of family sending their love
  • Holiday decorations
  • Pictures or videos of your teen's pet

Things to Remember When Shipping a Care Package

It's easier than ever to send a quick care package direct from the store. Many stores offer free shipping so you can ship a care package to your college student without ever actually handling the items yourself. 

Of course, adding a personal touch once in a while will make a care package extra special. Just seeing your handwriting and a few things from home can go a long way to reducing your teen's stress, which is essential to helping her succeed in college.


While you can send pictures over email or social media, sometimes getting a photo in the mail means a lot. Your teen might want to pin a few photos above his desk or he might want a picture or two to hang near his bed. Looking at those photos without having to pick up his smartphone can remind him of his family, pets, or favorite things throughout the day.