The 6 Best Ready-Made Care Packages for College Kids of 2021

Why pack your own when these sites will do it for you?

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The transition from high school to college can be difficult for young adults. For many, with college comes the first time living away from home, the opportunity to navigate a new social culture and make new friends, and the newfound independence and responsibility—all of which can be great, but don't come without their challenges.

One way to support your college student is to stay connected without being overbearing. Most college kids enjoy hearing from family and friends back home, and they're often short on cash and a little bit hungry, making care packages a great way to say, "We're thinking about you."

But assembling, packaging, and sending a care package can be time-consuming and costly. Take the stress out of brightening your college student's day by sending a ready-made care package that can be ordered online.

Here are 10 sites that make sending a care package to your college student easier.

Smiles From Home

Smiles From Home

Who can resist a smiley face? Smiles From Home sends large care packages or sweet and simple smiley face mugs with a few special treats to your college student for a fun pick-me-up. With a variety of gift cards, snacks, and other items, their packages will brighten any day.

A huge variety of gifts for the young man at college is available at Man Crates. The website has several categories of gift packages, each with distinct packaging. The wooden crate comes with a mini crowbar for (not so) easy opening, which only adds to the fun. Available gifts include the bacon crate, the "cowpocalypse" crate, and many more. While some are suitable only for ages 21 and older, there are lots to choose from for younger men.

Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple

Many dorm rooms and apartments have microwaves, and Tastefully Simple has the perfect surprise for your favorite student with a sweet tooth. The Churro Mini Donut Mix makes cinnamon-flavored treats in minutes using the included donut pan. Your child can also bake the mix in a mug to create microwavable cake. Send a few extra to share with roommates, dormmates, and friends.

Gourmet Gift Baskets

Gourmet Gift Baskets

Do you need a gift sent right away? Maybe your young adult is under the weather, has a rough weekend of studying ahead, or just broke up with their significant other. Gourmet Gift Baskets can help with same-day delivery of abundant and delicious gift packages that will cheer anyone up. While these are on the more expensive side, the quick response and delivery time can be worth it.

Our Campus Market

Our Campus Market

For all things collegiate, head to Our Campus Market. Send your student a package that's already curated or make your own custom care package.

​TetherBox goes straight to the source when it comes to picking out care packages for college students; they tap other college students. You decide whether to do a monthly, semester, or annual plan and on your schedule, a package handpicked by your college student's peers is shipped out. No more worrying about ordering something special for a regular bit of love. TetherBox does it for you.

Ideas for College Care Packages

By Jackie Burrell 

Your college student will love getting a care package from home in the mail. You have many options for making items to include or buying them online. The best care packages are laden with cookies, whimsy, and plenty of love.

If you're looking for a perfect graduation gift, the promise of care packages adds charm and love to any gift. Include a few homemade coupons for care packages for freshman year. Then mark your calendar so you'll remember.

Best Food Items for Care Packages

banana bread in pan on pink and white dish towel
Chloé Benko-Prieur / Getty Images

Beat mailroom delays by packing sturdy, long-lasting baked goods, such as cookies and quick loaves of bread. A moist little loaf of banana peanut butter bread will arrive looking—and tasting—as perfect as when it left. Make a few loaves at a time and freeze them. Then when you want to send a last-minute gift you'll have the perfect thing waiting for you.​

Care Package Cookie Exchange

When you host a care package cookie exchange, you're not just getting pretty treats—you're socializing with friends going through the same empty nest/emotional leave-taking. For college kids, the box that eventually arrives on campus says it's not just you who misses them. It's the whole neighborhood. Besides exchanging items, organize labeling, boxing, and mailing the packages.

Microwavable Goodies

Every dorm room has a microwave, so why not send a package filled with easy-to-make microwaveable food? Start with the obvious—popcorn and soup, for example—but there are lots of other great ideas for easy, quick meals. Brown rice comes in microwaveable packages, and there are individual cakes that can be made in the microwave in minutes. 

Other items to include:

  • Snacks, such as pretzels, chips, popcorn, energy bars
  • Drinks, such as tea, coffee, and hot cocoa
  • Mints, gum, gummy candies, hard candies

Birthday Cakes and Dorm Deliveries

young woman holding birthday cake
LeoPatrizi/Getty Images

You may not be there for your child's first birthday away from home, but that doesn't mean you can't send a celebration. The first thing to check is whether the dining hall or student life center provides for special birthday deliveries. You may be able to order a birthday cake and even have it delivered by the school mascot. Bakeries in college towns may also offer on-campus deliveries for a customized cake.

If you decide to send your own birthday box, you will need to be a bit less traditional. Frosted cakes don't do well in the mail, so consider pumpkin bread, banana bread, carrot cake, or a batch of cookies.

Cozy Care Items

young woman wearing knit beanie and covering her face with scarf
 Sam Edwards / Getty Images 

A college-themed fleece blanket will be welcomed it starts to get chilly, plus warm socks or slippers. You can continue the school color theme with a towel and washcloth. For outdoors, send a warm knit cap, muffler, and mittens.

For a better night's sleep, consider sending a sleep mask, earplugs, or noise-canceling headphones.

After the first semester, your student probably needs to restock on essentials, such as soap, shampoo, hair styling products, deodorant, toothpaste, laundry detergent, and razor blades.

The inevitable exposure to others' germs may need some hand sanitizer, all-purpose spray cleaner, and cold remedies.

Fun Dorm Decorations

twinkle lights
college girls using cell phones on bed with twinkle lights in the background.  Mark Mawson / Getty Images

Liven up the dorm with a few fun, silly decorations for windows, doors and more. Twinkle lights are always a fun choice, and with battery-operated ones available, they can go anywhere.

Send holiday decorations for Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine's Day—any holiday will do. You can find lots of seasonal and inexpensive decor at a dollar store.

Reminders of Home

woman writing letter
Eerik / Getty Images

Even the most independent college student can start feeling a bit of homesickness. While you may be communicating online, tangible reminders of home can be cherished.

Handwritten notes or drawings from younger siblings, photos of the family or pets, the hometown newspaper, or a favorite memento can be packed up with other items.

School Supplies

colored pencils, calculator, and books on tabletop
 jayk7/Getty Images

You'll show your appreciation for the work your student is putting into his studies by slipping a few school supplies into the package. These can be traditional pens, highlighters, and sticky notes, but also think of cyber needs, such as extra power cords, adapters, accessory power banks, and memory storage.

Gift Cards

Woman holding a gift card and using a laptop
Geri Lavrov/Getty Images 

When sending a package filled with things the student can eat, use, and enjoy immediately, also include gift cards so your student can stock up on needed items and small luxuries. Consider these types of gift cards:

  • Target, Walmart, or Amazon
  • Cosmetics or spa
  • Restaurants or fast food
  • Movie theater
  • Starbucks or another coffee house
  • Home decor or home improvement store
  • Bed and bath store

A Finals Week Package

seeds, nuts and chips in small bowls
Andra Boda / Getty Images

Finals week needs a different approach. Instead of sending cookies, which send blood sugar skyward, then crashing to earth, send a healthful assortment of things.

  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Beef jerky or hard salami
  • Whole-grain crackers and nut butter
  • Instant soups and instant oatmeal
  • Starbucks gift card
  • Calming herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, or honey ginger
  • Lavender-scented lotion or pillow for stress relief
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