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Care packages for college students don't have to break the bank. Learn the essential items to pack in gift boxes for finals, sick days, or just because!
DIY a homemade Finals Survival Kit / Care Packages for College Students
For most of us, it's "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year"..... but for some people, ahem, college students..... it's CRUNCH time. So while I wish I was in the kitchen baking up more holiday cookies, I took some time off to prepare a finals survival kit for my college son. It was the least I could do when I started thinking about all the stress those exams can bring!
I've made a list at the bottom of the post full of ideas of what to pack in a care package for college students - everything from salty snacks, junk food, handy study helpers and Nice ‘n CLEAN Antibacterial Hand Wipes to help keep them healthy during such a stressful time!
This is my son's first year away from home as a college student, and he's my oldest, so we are both learning a lot this year. First off, did you know there are parent groups for incoming freshman parents on Facebook for Universities? If you have a boy like me who never shares anything, this will be a vital place to get info!
It turns out that these group members often organize care package get-togethers which is a genius idea! By having each person bring an item in multitudes, it helps to really get a variety of items. And how fun to wrap and create fun boxes with some other parents going through it with you!
Sadly, my son is over a thousand miles away and there were no local moms doing a get-together, so I whipped one up myself. I grabbed almost all the items while I was doing my weekly grocery run at HEB. I'll walk you through all the essentials that I included, but first, let's get into the nitty-gritty of the box itself!
Care Package Box Options
I get my boxes at the United States Post Office where they are free. Not free to mail, but the box is free! I usually grab 2 of each size that I think I'll use so I have them on hand. Then I can either return them to the post office and pay there, or a I can print a shipping slip at home and have my mail carrier pick the box up.
They have regular boxes and flat rate. Flat rate means you pay that set fee, no matter how much your box weighs! So stuff it full my friends!
Next, you'll want to make the inside of the box pretty. Using school colors are a great way to support your student. Any cheerful paper will do!
My box is upside down because I used the flaps as a template for cutting my wrapping paper. This is where I tell you that the wrapping paper and the decorations took longer than anything else did. This is of course, totally optional.
I thought my child would enjoy the encouraging words and I decided to put them in my own handwriting to add a personal touch. I did use my cutting machine to make the stickers that say Purdue 2018. Knowing my son, he will probably cut that flap off and prop it up as a piece of artwork.
When securing the wrapping paper to the flaps use a standard glue stick. Smear it all over the cardboard versus the paper as it seems to stick better this way. I cut 4 different pieces to cover each flap all the way down to the bottom of the box.
To make my kid feel extra special, I divided the snacks and items up into categories and wrapped them with tissue paper. This way he feels like he is unwrapping a bunch of little presents. I added candy into the little Christmas tin in case it melts. No one wants melted chocolate on the other items!
By now you've probably noticed the Nice ‘n CLEAN Antibacterial Hand Wipes I've included. Remember those parent Facebook groups I told you about? A common topic-- kids getting sick. My son is in an all-male dorm. I know they have cleaners but from what I've gathered from these parent group is that college kids spread germs like crazy. The last thing any college student needs is to be sick during finals week! The more proactive he can be about keeping germs at bay- the better!
I grabbed the 5 pack of Nice ‘n CLEAN Antibacterial Hand Wipes in the pharmacy section of HEB. We love the handy little packages that we can divvy up. He can have some in his dorm room, in his shower caddy, and his backpack. I keep mine in my purse and in my car, and the little boys have theirs in their backpacks.
Did you know 80% of common infections spread by hands? Ewww! Nice ‘n CLEAN Antibacterial Hand Wipes kill 99.99% of germs and remove soil and bacteria from hands and hard surfaces, which is something gels don't do. There are several reasons why I choose Nice 'n CLEAN. They are green, natural, easy to carry around, there is nothing that will leak, they are safe and one of their best traits --they have been proven to remove 99% peanut residue from hard surface. That's huge for allergy sufferers.
Nice 'n CLEAN have been around for 61 years! And being able to kill 99.99% of germs means I want these by my college student's side during the icky winter sick season! For me, that was an ESSENTIAL item that needed to be in his care package!
So what else made the cut for his box??? Here is a list of what I've added along with more suggestions you might like!
ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN A FINALS CARE PACKAGE FOR A COLLEGE STUDENT:
- an essential item they might need (mine was warm weather thermals and texting gloves for cold December days!)
- a sweet reminder from home (homemade cookies are good, his was a bookmark of busses we took in London)
- Pens, pencils, and little note packets
- a stress ball (or stress pig in his)
- a handwritten note to tell them how proud you are and to wish them well!
- Nice n' CLEAN antibacterial wipes!
------Salty Snacks -------
- snack mix
- chips in a can
- peanut butter crackers
- ramen noodle packets
----- Protein Power-Ups ------
- peanut butter banana bites
- mixed nuts
- energy bars or granola bars
----- Caffeine / Drinks -----
- instant coffee
- hot cocoa mix
- apple cider mix
- hot tea bags
- water flavor drops/ powder
----- Junk Food -----
- toaster tarts
- individually wrapped candy bars
- snack cakes
- hard candy
Things NOT to pack in a care package:
- In hot weather, avoid chocolate. If you do pack it, place it in a separate tin so in case it melts it won't ruin other items. If baking cookies, use candy-coated chocolates instead of chips to help with melting issues.
- Drinks or bottles of liquid. No one wants spills.
- Anything the post office says you shouldn't include!
CREATE A GET WELL SOON CARE PACKAGE
Instead of mailing this, I have gifted this to my son wrapped up and told him to open it when he is sick. That way, I don't have to wait for the mail to deliver it, and he can bust into it the minute he feels crummy!
- inexpensive digital thermometer
- cough drops
- throat lozenges
- boxes of noodle soup
- a sweet treat like cookies
- hot tea bags
- all the over the counter meds they might need that they can't leave bed for
- a new toothbrush (throw out the old one when no longer sick!)
- Nice n' CLEAN antibacterial wipes for them and their roommates/ friends
- small packs of tissues
- a microwavable rice heating pad
- waterless vaporizer with vapopads
- the phone #'s and locations of the University sick call or local doctors
Thoughtful gifts .... just because...
- homemade cookies (sugar cookies are my son's favorite)
- a coffee tumbler with a coffee shop gift card
- A gift card to a movie theater or DVD rental
- a subscription to a streaming music company
- a homemade card with single bills for vending machines
- have a pizza delivered to their dorm
Fingers crossed that the package makes it in time and that his exams go well! I hope you've found this post helpful! Gone are the days I can just whip up cookie butter popcorn for a snack or heat up some soup when he is sick, so until then, these will have to do!