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Blue Hen

Care Packages

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I received an email from my soon-to-be-college-freshman's school about care packages. Of course for $$$$$$$ I can have them send care packages but I would rather do this myself.

 

I remember watching with envy the care packages roommates received in college but I really don't remember what were in the boxes. My DS will be 500 miles away and I plan to send him packages ---- but what do you put in them? What were big hits with your college student? My sister said she once sent her daughter 24 socks so that she could wash less often.

 

Sad to say I never *sent* my older DS care packages while he was in college. Since he was just 20 minutes from home I often delivered cookies, snacks and once he was in an apartment boxes of meat and fresh vegetables.

 

 

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 What were big hits with your college student?

 

My daughter appreciated home-made baked goods (enough to share), packaged (shelf-stable) Indian food she couldn't find easily in stores within walking distance of campus, favorite snacks and gum, iTunes cards, cute fuzzy socks when the weather was cold, inexpensive holiday decor for her dorm room, silly things to share with friends and dorm-mates (dollar store stuff, mostly, like glow sticks or cute pencils around holidays, bubbles, etc.). 

 

Before finals, I would include something silly like a greeting card that played music, noise-makers (for her dorm's nightly "loud hour" during finals weeks), that kind of thing.

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My MIL to be sent homemade cookies frequently, and once DH proposed, sent them to me as well. When I had a box from her waiting at the front desk, I'd also have quite a few people waiting to see what kind she sent this time :)

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I remember reading on this board a few years back on a mom sending a "12 days of Christmas" box, that arrived right after Thanksgiving, with 1 small gift a day for her student to open for the first 12 days of December which got the student through finals. She did things (for a son), like a stick of deodorant, a ball cap or knit cap, a bag of favorite (non-melt-y) candy, a flashlight, etc.

 

I will be getting to send care packages as DS heads to college this fall -- yea!!! Since he'll only be 2 hours away, and plans to come home to visit several times each semester, I figured I'd send things like: packets of microwave popcorn, energy bars, lifesavers candy, bag of peanuts, powdered flavored lemonade mix, a deck of cards or small game, iTunes card, a fun t-shirt, a book of cartoons, lip balm...

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We did orientation at UNC on Thursday and Friday, and the push for care packages was thankfully very minimal.  The only ones I saw were for cupcakes, and DS is a healthful eater w/o much of a sweet tooth, so I was able to decline w/o feeling any guilt.  For him a nice care package would include things like packages of nuts and energy bars, or maybe some kind of fresh fruit gift basket.

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I think a good care package is anything that says home. 

 

Food is always good- a homemade treat or some store bought favorites.  Sometimes it is something fun-goofy pencils, a Frisbee, silly tech equipment.  Sometimes practical-socks, fun jammies for the season, a new pair of jeans or cool t-shirt.  Sometimes something to share-food, goofy party supplies.  Then the category of thanks mom-I wanted that but spent all my money of pizza- a Starbucks card, iTunes or app store cards (for the system/provider of their choosing), rental credits at RedBox/Amazon/iTunes/Netflix, etc.

 

Another way to think of it is how to help them follow family traditions from afar- special food or decorations for season/holidays, t-shirts for your team during the World Series, birthday party in a box. 

 

[edited]  Sorry but I realize that some of my suggestions may sound expensive.  I'm not saying it has to be-postage is more than enough these days.  Some days a new tooth brush and goofy stuff from the dollar store is enough to bring a smile to a college kid's face.  I was just listing some of the items I've seen and heard of being included.  All must be tailored to suit the student in question. 

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And my boys like things like a pair of bright colored socks or a funky pair of boxer shorts.........often I heard that they came "just in time so that I could put off laundry another few days!"   Also crisp dollar bills for the vending machine snacks!

 

 

Myra 

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I have a friend who puts a mailing label right onto a theatre-size box of candy and mails it.  Ingenius! And super easy to do.  I have some set aside for my ds with summer classes and my ds with an out-of-state internship.   

 

Something like this or this

 

Lisa

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Looking back at old posts, here are some things that went into care packages:

 

items inadvertantly left at home

bag clips (we neglected to provide those with the grocery bag full of goodies from Trader Joes that we left at the dorm)

a package of stickers of the college's mascot

some humorous comic strips/articles

dollar bills that we received that we registered at Where's George? so that my daughter could add her location to the list

Command brand picture hanging widgets

a set of juggling balls 

And chocolate!  (One must always send something chocolate.)

 

Regards,

Kareni

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I am not a baker, so home made goodies aren't my thing. I have used Amazon Prime for care packages--graphic novels, food, games, better speakers for his computer, noise cancelling earphones, DVDs of 80's movies...

 

I have made fun pillowcases and sent them. Gift cards for nearby restaurants. Tshirts from Think Geek. A box of Tervis tumblers for all the roommates with the college and fraternity on them. New soccer ball. New keeper gloves and jersey. Tim Howard Everton jersey. Airline voucher to go visit his cousin at college. Parachute men. Model rocket parts. Funny pencils. Candy bars. New tie for fraternity events. New pajama pants. Socks. Museum pass for the High. Braves tickets and a MARTA pass. Hawks tickets and a gas card for the person who drove them. Pasta dinner in a box--pasta, tomato sauce, shakey cheese, salad dressing, plastic dishes from target, dessert.

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For DS22, his care packages were mostly white ankle socks, gummy bears and comic books.  Oh - and a years supply of boy scout popcorn (since they shipped directly to him!)

 

For DD19, she mostly gets cute things around holidays and candy before finals.  Lots of lollipops by request and packages of strange socks.  I rely more on Amazon Prime with her since things are cheaper there than I can buy them at home by the time I add postage costs.

 

I think DS18 is lobbying for all candy, so I think Amazon Prime will be delivering most of his packages!

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Pinterest has great ideas for care packages!  (Just do a quick search for "care packages for college students.")

 

My favorite last year was a "box of sunshine"  I sent my DD.  Everything inside had the predominant color yellow - yellow sunglasses, a yellow  flowered tote bag from the Dollar Tree for towel and sunscreen (she goes to College of Charleston), lemon drops, a yellow comb, a funny card, etc.  It was a big hit with her roommates.  I put everything inside her tote bag and zipped it shut, so she had fun opening  the "package within a package."  

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My middle son loves Herrs Potato chips as he can't get them up there and he's gotten a few of his friends hooked on them.  We need to send BIG boxes.

 

Then we pack it with Lindt Truffles... and simple things he likes not having to go out to buy himself like deoderant and good whiteboard markers (they go through these quickly as they use them often in their study groups).  Some quick breakfast options like peanut butter crackers were popular too - or things like a Chipotle gift card.

 

Other than the chips and truffles, we varied the content.

 

Once I was digging through my stationary drawer and came across a young child's "Tigger" birthday party invite that we never used way back when - then it got buried.  I was about to throw it out... then got an idea... and sent it to him (by itself) with something to the effect of "This poor Tigger was buried and afraid he'd never see the light of day again and never get to experience the US mail system.  We know your mailbox is often dark and empty.  We thought maybe the two could console each other."  Of course, we also added a quick "real" note telling him we were thinking of him and loved him somewhere on it too, but we tried to tuck that part in.  It was all silly, but you know what?  He's kept it in his "special items" box... for two years now.  That may not be something every kid treasures, but my guy loved it... so feel free to be creative along your guy's "lines."

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My son's care packages evolved over his college life.  During his first and second year, there were fewer options for shelf stable meals in the campus store--and fewer friends with cars.  So in the beginning I sent Asian noodle things and those packages of tuna/crackers/mayo.  Turns out that one of my lad's stressed out friends was forgetting to eat so he kept the emergency tuna for her!

 

I am a baker and have shipped all sorts of stuff beyond cookies by mail.  My son's suitemates appreciated these treats too. 

 

Near midterm or final exams my son really appreciated a variety of flavored popcorns from the popcorn store.  He also like receiving Nutella, a tin of mixed nuts or cashews, silly things (like the stapler that looked like a sushi roll).

 

What placed me in the Awesome Mom category though was knitting a Jayne hat, copying the note that the Firefly (TV program) character Jayne received from his mother. 

 

 

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Pumpkin bread....one of those home items that cant be replicated by a store.

 

Ahem.  Make that pumpkin, chocolate chip, bourbon bread. ;)

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Ahem.  Make that pumpkin, chocolate chip, bourbon bread. ;)

 

Do you need my address?  I have two college students here...

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Anything homemade that can't be replicated by a store.

 

Anything he can't get for himself (pretty small category since they usually get Amazon Prime for their textbooks, so they can find anything and not even pay shipping!)

 

Anything he can't be bothered to go and get himself.

 

Anything he'd like but rather not pay for. (much larger category) 

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I have to say that care packages kind of bother me.  ONLY in that nowadays parents are expected to send them and they are considered essential, and colleges try and get parents to buy expensive boxes of junk food during finals week and all that.  It's just one more material item that is suddenly an important part of the college experience.

 

But.  I also know that depending on the child, they are sometimes nice to get and can be a thoughtful way to show a child that the parent is thinking about them.  And, if they can include things that are actually really needed, that's a bonus!  When my son was going to school in NYC and living alone in an apt. the size of a closet with barely enough to live on, I sent him camp food that only needed hot water to become a complete meal (he had no kitchen -- only a hot pot) and holiday decorations to help make his closet-room a little more cheerful.  :)

 

For other kids, I have sent along small items that they forgot ( :)), a pack of post-it notes, a photo from home, a hand-written letter, and a healthy snack-bar.  I might stick in a pack of socks or underwear that I know they always seem to need. 

 

 

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And my boys like things like a pair of bright colored socks or a funky pair of boxer shorts.........often I heard that they came "just in time so that I could put off laundry another few days!"   Also crisp dollar bills for the vending machine snacks!

 

 

Myra 

 

Funny. That reminds me that my dad used to send me rolls of quarters, because the change machines were often broken, empty.

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Funny. That reminds me that my dad used to send me rolls of quarters, because the change machines were often broken, empty.

 

Same here, my dad used to save his pocket change and sent me all the quarters every couple months. 

 

Somehow I know the thought won't be quite the same when we top off the kids' "uni card" every few months.

 

A couple times he even sent a quick letter with a 10 or 20 dollar bill in it and told me the pizza was on him this week.  (I worked on campus and over the summer for my pocket money so that was a treat.)

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Unfortunately my dd's first care package was full of cold meds! Box of tissues, cough drops, zinc lozenges, vitamin C, vapor rub and the like.

 

Fun ones were sent too, but she really appreciated this. Of course, if I were a better mother, she would have already had all that stuff there with her at college.

 

Agreeing that Amazon Prime helps out w/ care packages.

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I am a baker and have shipped all sorts of stuff beyond cookies by mail. My son's suitemates appreciated these treats too.

Jane, I would love tips on the types of baked goods you sent and, more specifically, how you packaged them. I keep reading that brownies/bars need to be wrapped individually and that it is a good idea to wrap cookies as pairs, back to back. Have you done this? What about quick breads? Do you slice them and wrap them individually? Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated!

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Jane, I would love tips on the types of baked goods you sent and, more specifically, how you packaged them. I keep reading that brownies/bars need to be wrapped individually and that it is a good idea to wrap cookies as pairs, back to back. Have you done this? What about quick breads? Do you slice them and wrap them individually? Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated

I have never wrapped bars individually!  If cookies broke, my guy did not complain. ;)

 

I placed cookies in recycled tins or those plastic boxes sold at the grocery, using wax paper to help minimize shifting.  Biscotti can be shipped in a zip bag that is placed in the small priority mail flat rate box.

 

My son loves chocolate cake so for his birthday I sent him a chocolate bundt cake (no frosting) in a zip bag with lots of bubble wrap cradling it in a medium priority flat rate box. 

 

I did not preslice quick breads. I found some convenient paper baking boxes (easy to buy around the holidays at places like William Sonoma).  Initially I froze the quick breads or muffins but later stopped.  Priority would get a box to him in two days (three if it was near a holiday) so I was just careful to do my baking on Sunday or Monday and ship the package on Monday or Tuesday.  Especially after he was living in a suite, baked goods did not stick around too long.

 

Pies are messy.  I learned that lesson when I shipped one to a nephew who loved it anyway.  I sent my son a pie or two but purchased slightly smaller foil pans.  I also sent him pecan tartlets--mini pecan pies. They ship well.

 

I am pretty fearless about shipping baked items because presentation does not seem to matter to most college students. Even my 20 something nieces and nephews who are living on their own love getting a box of Aunt Jane's dried cherry/almond biscotti periodically.

 

My last mailing experiment involved shipping cupcakes in glass jars.  I sent those to my boy and his roommate about the time finals were to begin. 

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Thank you!!! I definitely need to be more "fearless." I know presentation won't matter to my ds.

 

Thanks for the ideas! Those cupcakes in a jar are adorable! Okay, I might have a "fear" of that since there is glass involved. Ha ha!

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Thank you!!! I definitely need to be more "fearless." I know presentation won't matter to my ds.

 

Thanks for the ideas! Those cupcakes in a jar are adorable! Okay, I might have a "fear" of that since there is glass involved. Ha ha!

Bubblewrap is your friend!

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Is anyone else getting hungry and waiting for Jane to start posting recipes?

I think she should start a care package business. I'll have one son, one niece and one nephew in college next year. I could keep Jane in business.

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I think she should start a care package business. I'll have one son, one niece and one nephew in college next year. I could keep Jane in business.

I would hire you, too!

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Is anyone else getting hungry and waiting for Jane to start posting recipes?

 

Well, you can always take a look at the recipe she just posted in the Book a Week thread.  It doesn't look mailable, but it certainly has me drooling!

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Is anyone else getting hungry and waiting for Jane to start posting recipes?

 

Uh, no... this is a care package thread.  I assume she's baking a ton this weekend and getting ready to ship us all boxes on Monday.   :lol:

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We have used wiped out Pringles cans to mail cookies. Stack the cookies, wrap them in Saran Wrap, and slide them into the cans. They ship well this way and can easily be frozen in the cans. allowing for a couple extra days of shipping.

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Jane, I would love tips on the types of baked goods you sent and, more specifically, how you packaged them. I keep reading that brownies/bars need to be wrapped individually and that it is a good idea to wrap cookies as pairs, back to back. Have you done this? What about quick breads? Do you slice them and wrap them individually? Any and all tips would be greatly appreciated! 

 

 

I have, but I do 4 at a time more often than 2.  

 

 

 

We have used wiped out Pringles cans to mail cookies. Stack the cookies, wrap them in Saran Wrap, and slide them into the cans. They ship well this way and can easily be frozen in the cans. allowing for a couple extra days of shipping.

 

 

Do they get soggy as they thaw?

 

 

 

You can also use air popped pop corn as packing material. It keeps cookies from breaking. 

 

 

My Mom did this, back in the day, when they didn't feed us enough and we weren't allowed off-post.  You could eat the packing material!

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I just wanted to say how much I have loved this thread. You all are so creative. I love how you all show your kids love! From the box of cold meds to the amazing baked goods, from the socks to eating the packing popcorn!

 

When we send care packages this year, we should come back and record them here. My DS leaves in 6 weeks. I will be sending a package soon.

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When we send care packages this year, we should come back and record them here. My DS leaves in 6 weeks. I will be sending a package soon.

That's a great idea!

 

Yes, I am glad for this thread as well. It's gotten my brain going!

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I just wanted to say how much I have loved this thread. You all are so creative. I love how you all show your kids love! From the box of cold meds to the amazing baked goods, from the socks to eating the packing popcorn!

 

When we send care packages this year, we should come back and record them here. My DS leaves in 6 weeks. I will be sending a package soon.

 

I totally agree!  This has given me something to look forward to and while I was thinking of just sending care packages to my youngest your notes got me thinking about how I need to send them off to the oldest one too. He'll be in grad school, in his own apartment but still would appreciate getting packages too. I love to bake and now I'll just be able to send it out of the house!

 

And yes, let's record the packages we send here.

 

Carole

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Cookies. MIL and I used to send DH cookies when he was in college before I got there. MIL still sends cookies to us if she won't be around for Easter or Valentine's Day.

 

Quarters for the laundry were always appreciated, since we needed at least eight to do a load of laundry. Or cash or restaurant gift cards for eating somewhere other than the dining hall.

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Do they get soggy as they thaw?

 

 

 

No, the cookies don't get soggy. We had some we meant to send that sat in the freezer for several months. When we pulled them out, they were still delicious.

 

ETA: The cookies had completely cooled before we packed them. I think it wouldn't work as well if they were packaged warm.

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Send plastic spoons with the baked goods-if they get broken just spoon up the crumbs. I'm pretty sure a college student during finals isn't beneath such action. :w00t:

 

[i'm pretty sure I wasn't...]

I sent my dh cookies wrapped in foil when he was on deployment. Big mistake. They were just a pile of crumbs when they arrived. He told me that he dumped them in a bowl and added milk.

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I sent my dh cookies wrapped in foil when he was on deployment. Big mistake. They were just a pile of crumbs when they arrived. He told me that he dumped them in a bowl and added milk.

My hubby just roll the foil into a funnel shape and dump the contents to his mouth. He is ex-Navy.

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Care package request--USA Tim Howard jersey.

 

He is going down to visit his girlfriend this week. I am putting a care package together for him to take. So far--T-shirt from the pizzeria/beach bar we hang out at when we are at the beach, sea salt chocolate caramels from Whole Foods, Rice Krispie treats (because I have never made them before and want to try) and a pack of Magic, the Gathering cards.

 

Did I mention we really like his girlfriend? She is awesome.

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DD will be 700+ miles away with no car, so everything she has will be courtesy of care packages and Amazon Prime. There are four of us (uncle, boyfriend, grandma, and me) regularly sending packages, so we set up a rotating schedule in a Google doc. :)

 

So far the plans are:

Re-stocking shampoo, conditioner, laundry items, and contact solution

Butterscotch candy, caramels, LifeSavers mints

Magazines she usually reads at home after I finish them (got her online access, but she likes the real thing)

Extra water bottle for when she loses her spare

Batteries

Maybe baked goods to share? (they have a kitchen in the dorm, and unlimited meal plans) - trying to figure out shipping cupcakes??

 

I have been picking up treats as I see them -  a set of nesting robots, a geeky programming tshirt, some fancy pens, etc. - to pop in. BF or I will also send flowers/plants every few weeks.

 

 

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I just thought of a few other things that could work as padding AND are a gift:

- beany or stuffed toy

- flannel pajama/lounge pants

- small fleecy blanket (warmth and comfort ;) )

- hot mitt or kitchen towel (if the student is doing a lot of dorm room eating)

- small pillow

- wind breaker or light rain jacket

- gloves, mittens, knit cap, footie slippers

 

And then of course, the socks and t-shirts and other clothing items already mentioned above… :)

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I received an email from my soon-to-be-college-freshman's school about care packages. Of course for $$$$$$$ I can have them send care packages but I would rather do this myself.

 

.

We just got this letter, too. Along with a note that kids who didn't get them were so sad and left out. Sob sob. :D

 

Ds will only be 45 minutes away (though we don't expect to see him much...) and I am thinking a "welcome to college box" with lots of shareable goodies might be a nice way to break the ice in his dorm. When ds was out-of-state for 6 weeks last summer we sent him a birthday package with a big jar of M&ms, cookies (packaged in Pringles containers), lollipops, balloons, a card game, a small puzzle, and bubbles (and a banana that had "bananas are nice" etched on the peel from dd). Ds mentioned that while the cookies were good, The Pringles themselves would have been welcome, as well. :)

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 Along with a note that kids who didn't get them were so sad and left out. Sob sob. :D

 

 

We have that note every year.  After the first year I asked my college boy about it.  Home-sent packages are preferred.

 

After middle had spent time at his college I asked the same question and got the same answer.

 

YMMV

 

I no longer "worry" about those notes.  They are just an advertising ploy.

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I thought of another couple of things my daughter enjoyed getting. 

 

We used to send her the Playbill or program from any show we saw while she wasn't here. I also used to send copies of the scripts or soundtracks (CDs) of anything I saw that I thought she'd especially like. 

 

We also sent her gift certificates/gift cards for the local coffee place she liked. (This required forethought, since it was an independent shop with no online purchasing and no outlet close to us. We would buy a couple of cards when we visited and take them home with us, then send them one at a time in care packages later.) We put spending money on her debit card each week, but she enjoyed being able to pick up an cup of tea or a vegan cookie as a treat without having to take it out of her regular budget. 

 

 

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