With a brother off to college for the first time, I've been thinking a lot about different things to add to care packages for him, his roommate, and his girlfriend. I'm sure I'm not the only older sister, friend, family member, etc. who wants to send care packages to her favorite undergrads but it can be hard. Trying to find fun things to send them that aren't just going to end up cluttering their already small spaces can be difficult.
Another thing that I'm finding to be a little tricky is that my brother and his roommate are in the Norwich Corps of Cadets, meaning there's a lot of things they can't have during the first few months while they're learning the ropes.
Here are a few different ideas for what to send your favorite undergrads both cadet and civilian edition!
Who doesn't love getting candy in a care package? It's such a nice treat to open a package and see your favorite candy in there - especially if it's been a stressful week. I love including the movie theater boxes in these packages because they make the perfect backpack snack!
If your college girl is anything like me, she loses her chapstick all the time! It's so frustrating! That's why I try to add a chapstick to every package! You can never send too many chapsticks! I'm a huge fan of Burt's Bees so those are pretty much all I include in care packages!
💙 Fuzzy Socks
Socks in general are always a fun addition to any package, but there's something about fuzzy socks that just makes it so much better! Especially during the fall and winter and when living in the dorms! Plus, you can always find some cute, cheap ones from Target or Walmart!
Nothing keeps college kids going quite like coffee, and when they can save some money by not having to stop at a coffee shop on the way to class, even better! Make sure to check to see if they need normal coffee or a box of K-cups!
When I was in college it was during the era of "self-care night routines" that included cheap face masks and decaf tea. Sure, some of it was super cheesy, but I've kept the decaf tea as part of my night routines since then. It's nice to have something other than water, sodas, coffee, or other drinks in your room - and during cold season, having the option to make some tea isn't the worst thing!
💙 Water Bottle
Believe me, the one thing every college kid needs is a nice water bottle! First of all, spending a ridiculous amount of money buying cheap water bottles is a waste of time. Second of all, college kids use water bottles every single day. It never mattered if I brought coffee to class, I also could not go to class without my Hydroflask! You've seen me talk about this water bottle before but I can't help it - it's the best water bottle I've ever had and it lasted me all 4 years of college (and I'm still using it)!
💙 Gift Cards
Being a broke college student is no fun! So, believe me, gift cards are always, always, always appreciated! If you know your college kid loves a specific restaurant or store then throw a gift card to their favorite places in there! If you aren't sure, there's no harm in giving them one of the Visa gift cards that they can use for anything!
There are few reasons to dress up on a college campus, so you can pretty much guarantee your college girl will be living in sweatshirts and leggings most days of the week. That being said, her sweatshirts will take a hit over her time at school. So, why not add to her collection with a cute sweatshirt? I love this one from Aspen + Company because it's cute and comfortable!
💙 Baseball Hat
It's always fun to throw something different into care packages! I can pretty much guarantee that baseball hats will become a wardrobe staple for most college kids so they're perfect to add to any care package!
💙 Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you're looking to add something practical and a little nicer to your care packages, try adding some noise-canceling headphones to the box. These are great for studying or times when you just want to tune everything out while at school. I got my little brother a pair of these from Amazon for graduation and he loves them! They're also great for traveling!
College campuses are great spots for hanging out with friends, playing games, and otherwise relaxing after classes and study sessions. Adding fun things like frisbees to care packages can make them unique and helps kids decompress after long days!
These are such fun additions to care packages! There's something ridiculously fun about spending your afternoon in a hammock on campus with a group of friends. You can find some great hammocks on Amazon for under $50! This one is only $25!
💙 Phone Case
College can be rough on phones and phone cases. I think I went through easily 3 a year until I finally started getting the higher quality cases. I also just love swapping out fun cases depending on how I'm feeling. If you want to add something personal, consider getting your college kid a personalized phone case from Casetify! Added bonus: they'll always know which phone is their's when all of them end up in a pile on the table.
💙 Handwritten Cards
It's always nice to add little notes into the packages you send! Sometimes, these are the best part of the entire package! Letting them know you are thinking of them and are proud of them goes so far! I like to try and find cute cards, like these ones to add something different to the box!
💙 Healthy Snacks
Believe me, your rook will absolutely want some sort of junk food or candy but listen carefully do not send them those! Between the fact that Norwich has about a million hills across campus and the grueling amount of PT they do in a given day (let alone a week), they need healthy options. When making a care package for my brother I added things like Chomps Beef Sticks, protein bars, and raw almonds. You want to find snacks that aren't going to give them crazy sugar highs or have enough sodium in them that they're dehydrated by the time they get out of bed. Trust me, they'll thank you for it.
First of all, this should also be included in what they bring to Norwich on the first day of rook week. But, by the end of that first week, they'll need a refill. We sent my brother with a Costco size bottle and between him and his roommates, they were pretty much out by Wednesday. As my brother says, they're "...sore all the time, and it's great!" but that doesn't mean that Advil won't be a welcome sight!
💙 Air fresheners
Listen, the dorms aren't that big, and when you've got 2-3 people rushing to change from PT clothes to normal clothes after running 10 miles through the mud in the river, it smells nasty. Think a high school locker room after a game but all the time. Help your rooks out by sending some air fresheners! Let's be real, opening the windows only does so much!
Key tip here: Write a lot of letters. You can't write too many. Remember they get 10 minutes to call on Sundays and email privileges sometimes. It can be hard, trying to adjust to this new lifestyle while also adjusting to college life in general. Make sure you write to them! Another tip though: Be supportive! Even if you don't necessarily agree with the process, or if it's hard on you - make sure you are supportive. Tell them how proud of them you are and how confident you are that they can do it. Offer advice when asked but don't tell them what to do. This is an incredible thing they are doing, so let them do it. Just make sure you write to them so they have something to look forward to when they check their mail!
I think this is pretty self-explanatory but as I said, they stink. Help everyone out by sending some of the extra strength deodorant because no one wants to smell them all day long.
💙 Dunkin' Gift Cards
Now, they won't be able to use these right off. Heck, they may not be able to use them for months but their dorms are right by the Dunkin' and they walk past it to check their mail so I'm sure at some point (when they can) they'll want to stop and grab a coffee. Why not give them some gift cards so they don't have to spend money? Even rooks will want coffee at some point!
They've probably got enough school supplies and other random items from college but having a fun notebook makes everyone happy. Plus, they've got a lot to remember! I love these ones because they hold up really well. Not to mention they come in different colors so you can really find one that matches their personality!
Everyone deserves to be cozy, especially when dealing with the added stress of grad school! You can find such fun blankets at places like HomeGoods and Marshalls but if you're sending something directly to your favorite grad student, this Amazon option is fantastic as well!
💙 Coffee mug
If my dad is reading this he's probably screaming about my love for coffee mugs. It's true, I have a bit of an obsession, which is part of the reason it made the list. The other reason though is that coffee mugs are simple gifts that can make someone smile. A simple coffee mug with a cute, quirky phrase is always fun to grab first thing in the morning! Target has the $5 options that are always great for gifts (especially if you're sending a package during a holiday season)!
💙 Wine (or their favorite alcohol)
Grad school can be stressful and sometimes all they want is to study with a drink in hand. Help them out by sending them a bottle of wine or their favorite alcohol! I promise they'll appreciate it!
Just like everyone else, grad students need support and love and something to tell them you're thinking of them. Always make sure to include a card, it's a nice touch and it means so much!
Is there anything else you always add to a care package? Have you tried any of these? Do you have a student thinking about the Norwich Corps of Cadets? Let me know!