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Ideas for College Care Packages

Ideas for College Care Packages

Halloween is one of my favorite times to send out a college care package.  As freshmen my kids were still missing home in October and care packages eased the nostalgic sadness for both parent and child a bit. Food is a given in a college care package but here are some other ideas that were hits in past Halloween care packages.

Jump to:
Homemade Food for Halloween Packages
Recipes for Other Seasonal Care Packages
What to Add to Care Packages Besides Food

Halloween packages are a lot of fun for both the giver and the giftee.  It’s an opportunity to include goofy items without too much fear of embarrassing your students in front of their friends.

Here are a couple of Halloween care packages I sent when my kids were in college:

Halloween Care Package for the Boy - 2013
Halloween Care Package for the Boy – 2013
Halloween College Care Package for the Girl - 2013
Halloween College Care Package for the Girl

Homemade Food that Ships Well: Fall Quarter

Fall is a great time to bake those quick breads that ship so easily.  Fall flavors of pumpkins and apples are perfect foils for easy breads that the kids love to snack on for breakfast or during midterms.  See the list below for ideas for homemade treats for the other seasons.

I included a Pumpkin Amaretto Bread in my son’s package and a Chocolate Espresso Bread in my daughter’s.  Both breads were quite wonderful (always make a small tasting loaf for yourself), and they are moist enough that they will not be stale when they arrive at the colleges.  

Pumpkin bread in a loaf pan.
Pumpkin bread in a loaf pan.

Just make sure and wrap them well for shipping.  I wrapped the bread tightly in saran wrap first, making sure there were no gaps where air would get in.  I then wrapped the bread loaf in aluminum foil and placed it in a cookie tin so it would not get squashed.  

Use Halloween candy as packing peanuts placed in any gaps in the tin so the bread does not move around.  

My daughter got her packages in two days shipped USPS.  My son’s school however was not very efficient in the mail department, and although the package arrives in 2 days, it often did not get it to him for 4 days.  He always said the bread was still moist and delicious!

Recipes for Shippable Homemade Food

Ideas for Thoughtful College Care Packages:

It is much easier to put together a thoughtful care package if you think in terms of “categories”, and then find things specific to your student’s personality that fit in the categories.  Here is my list of categories and what I included in their packages this year:


All kids love food, and if it is food that you make specifically for them, it seems to be so much more appreciated than the packaged snacks sent out by the college in purchased care packages.  

The best is to send favorite foods that they cannot always get at school, but shipping different foods can be a problem.

Of course, Halloween packages must include some of that packaged candy…and make sure to include enough for sharing and trading.

Mom (or Dad) Love:

I always include a card with a handwritten sentiment that is relevant to something they have recently experienced.  I generally opt for a congratulations card, noting something in their life that makes me proud of them.  

In the package above, I went with Halloween cards and found one that had the bulldog on the front, which is the mascot of my son’s school.  Perfect.

Light Reading:

College kids read a lot of fairly heavy material.  Fashion, pop-culture or sports magazines are a welcome diversion.


Always appreciated.  Change up the amounts so nothing is expected.  Include a roll of quarters if they have to do laundry.


Students hate to spend money on things that were a given part of life back at home.  It just seems wrong to them that they spend their own money on something as mundane as toothpaste.  

My son loved crest white strips, but they are expensive so I usually included them.  Daughter usually got makeup.

Vitamins and Medicine: 

Another item they hate to spend money on.  Most kids get sick somewhere along the line and some cold medicine is something that comes in handy to have on hand.  

Rarely will they go out and buy medicine, but it can really help them over the hump and get them through classes.


Halloween is pretty easy here.  I would often include some fun costuming face paint or other materials that they might use if they got stuck thinking of a constume.  

Also included a few window gels to decorate their dorm room windows.

Do you have any favorite resources that you go to for college care packages?  Please share if you do.

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Thursday 28th of August 2014

Hi, I love your care package posts! My oldest daughter and my oldest son went away to college this year and I am wondering what is an economical way to send care packages to them....USPS? UPS? If you have any advice, I would love to hear it!

dorothy stainbrook

Thursday 28th of August 2014

Hi Lauren, I find USPS flat rate to be the most economical (and actually the most reliable also). Their boxes are free and you can put as much weight in them as you can fit for the same rate. I think it is $12.35 for a medium and $16 for a large. They generally get there in 2 days consistently. Thanks for your comment.

Chocolate Espresso Pistachio Quick Bread - Farm to Jar Food

Monday 2nd of December 2013

[…] love and send it with the rest of their swag bag (if you want to see the rest of her care package click here).  Please comment with any tips you might have on shipping food.  It is a work in progress for […]

Pumpkin Amaretto Quick Bread for the Fall Care Package - Farm to Jar Food

Monday 2nd of December 2013

[…] There you have it.  I might add a bit more Amaretto next time, but then I really like Amaretto.  Interchange the nuts as you wish (almonds might be good), or leave them out all together.  Make sure and make a small “tasting” loaf for yourself as you make it.  If you want to see the rest of the swag that went into the boy’s Halloween Care Package, click here. […]

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