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Originally published August 29, 2016 and updated on May 14, 2022.

When you’re looking for the perfect care packages for college students, these more than 47 college care package ideas to make or to purchase will help you find the perfect gift idea for your special student. I’ve sent three of my “babies” off to college and sending them college care packages is how I show them how much we miss and love them.

collage of 4 colorful care packages.

College Care Package Ideas

I enjoy creating fun and unique college care package ideas as a way to surprise my babies, make them smile and to distract me (if only briefly) from how much I miss them.  Creative care package ideas make a fun college care package that your favorite college student will be thrilled to receive.

How to Make a College Care Package

The best college care package ideas are those that play to your student’s favorite things.

  • What Are Your Student’s Particular Interests?
    • Hobbies & interests
      • Pets or Animals
      • Sports Teams
      • Favorite Movies & Actors
      • Favorite Books & Authors
      • Favorite books
      • Favorite Music
      • Home City or State
    • College Colors
  • What Are Any Limitations You Need to Consider in What Can Be Sent?
    • Are there any school limitations to what items the student can receive?
    • When can the student pick up packages?
      • This impacts what kind of homemade baked goods you send.
    • What can the student store in the room.
      • This impacts what types of food items you send.
  • What Seasonal Inspiration Can Help Create the Care Package?
    • The First Month of College
    • Holidays
    • Temperature-Related Ideas
    • College Finals
  • My Secrets to a Guaranteed Hit Care Package
    • Always send a silly or childhood related item
    • Always send enough to share with roommates and friends
    • Send items they need packaged in a fun, unique way
  • How Can You Best Pack the Care Package to Survive Shipment?
    • Carefully pack homemade baked goods so they arrive intact
    • Take individually-packages items out of the box to make more room

Best Care Packages to Purchase

Subscription boxes can be purchased as a one-time gift box. You aren’t required to sign up for a recurring subscription.

Food Care Package – More than 25 of the best food care packages. Ideas in 3 food categories for college students, military members, family and friends.

package wrapped in brown paper with twine bow & cream tag.

Best Candy Subscription Boxes – The 16 best candy subscription boxes to give as a one-time or monthly gift. The best boxes for every occasion and candy preference.

brown gift box with yellow ribbon with lid open and confetti exploding out.
  • Gift Card Care Package
    • You can send gift cards directly via email to your favorite student.
    • You can purchase gift cards and wrap them in creative ways to send as a care package.
    • Gift card ideas:
  • Favorite restaurant
  • Food delivery
  • Movie theater
  • Uber or Lyft

College Care Package Ideas

turquoise graphic for CrateJoy with kid doing homework and label 100's of College Care Packages.

College Care Package Basics

Ideas for care package contents:

  • Healthy snacks & favorite snacks
  • Favorite homemade cookies or treats
  • Games to play with friend and roommates
    • Board games
    • Frisbee
    • Football
  • Personal care products
    • Soap & body wash
    • Toothbrush, floss & toothpaste
    • Disposable razors & shaving cream
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Lip balm
    • Feminine hygiene items
    • First aid kit supplies
    • Cold medicine & cough drops
  • Dorm room maintenance supplies
    • Air fresheners
    • Trash bags
    • Dusters
  • Favorite junk food
  • Hot cocoa, tea, coffee (instant coffee if they don’t have a coffee maker) & energy drinks
  • Laundry supplies
    • Laundry detergent
    • Dryer sheets
    • Quarters (if the machines still take quarters)
  • Convenient food items
    • Protein bars & granola bars
    • Microwave popcorn
    • Individual servings of snacks and dinner items
  • Fun and favorite things
    • Nail polish & makeup
    • Cozy socks
    • Face mask
    • Little things to share with roommates

If you’re not a baker, these are truly delicious cookies that are a great option (and that I eat (almost) every day!).

Whenever possible include personalized or handmade items. Things like handmade treats, handwritten notes and cards from other family members and friends. Even pictures drawn by younger siblings can bring a smile to a homesick student.

Creative Care Package Notes – Make the next care package you send even more special with a creative themed care package note. With 48 different notes, there’s something for every situation and every person on your care package list.

48 different brightly colored printable notes for care packages.

Fall and Winter Care Packages 

Sick Care Packages

Care Packages for Finals

Spring Care Packages 

Color-themed Care Packages

Care Packages for Women

Care Packages for Guys

General Care Package Ideas

overhead view of purple and blue care package with cleaning items.

How to Package Brownies for Shipping – Home-baked treats are the foundation of any college care package. These tips will make sure brownies arrive whole and fresh. 

Having received memorable care packages when I was in college, I promise that a little bit of effort spent in creating a fun care package for college students will make their day or week or month and will be remember for years to come.

Pin this College Care Package Ideas collection so that you can easily find it for inspiration in the future.

See all our favorite college care package ideas and more in the table below. ​You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.