Care package love.
Receiving real mail is the best. You know, hand-written, hand-picked, and doesn’t come with a bill. At the top of that list would be a care package from home. I remember receiving them and suddenly life looked a whole lot brighter. College care packages are the perfect bridge between independence and family.
Now that I’m on the other side of the equation, I have to say that sending them is just as much fun as receiving. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these 10 ideas for the perfect care package for your college student.Care packages are the perfect bridge between independence and family. #emptynest Click To Tweet
The point of sending a care package is to bring joy to your son or daughter. Your excitement will be evident in the items you choose and how you put the box together. Your smile will show through in the details. Although it might be tempting to buy a ready-made package offered by the school or other sources, resist. They’re generic, easy to spot, and always have a few items that never get used or eaten. Even a small all-you-can-fit Priority Mail package is better than a $50 gift basket when you’ve packed it with items that have special meaning. Take a little time and map it out. Make a list. Have fun!
What’s a care package without food! Whether cookies or homemade frozen meals, any extra food you receive as a college student is deeply appreciated. I lived on Ramen noodles for most of my senior year. Occasionally I’d add frozen peas if I had a little extra money. To randomly receive a box of mom’s melting moment cookies or brownies reminded me of all the time she spent in the kitchen to feed our family of seven. Remembering the love and care she put into each meal helped put my life in perspective again.
If you don’t particularly enjoy baking, pick up a few of your son or daughter’s favorite snacks or pack ingredients for his/her favorite meal with a recipe attached. Do they have gourmet tastebuds? Add in jars of relish, cheese, and crackers from a specialty shop. The main thing… make it fun!
Some kids are more prepared than I was, but it never crossed my mind to pack nail clippers, tweezers, lotion, an iron, and other everyday essentials when I left for college. I was used to these items being readily available at home – and, of course, used by the whole family. Not until I was borrowing from my new roommate did I realize I needed these necessities and how expensive they are when starting from scratch.
The list may vary depending on whether you’re packing for a male or female, but anything that falls into the category of toiletries or personal appliances is up for grabs. Picture what you or your husband use on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. You don’t have to go overboard, but pick two or three items and add them in. Though not glamorous, these will definitely come in handy.
Giving a gift card may seem lazy or unexciting, but when money is tight and home far away, gift cards feel like free cash. A few ideas: grocery store, laundry mat, Walmart, restaurants, cell phone minutes, iTunes, or Amazon. I know kids who didn’t have much spending money so used their gift cards to buy a birthday or Christmas present for a friend or family member. Keep your son or daughter’s interests in mind, but also give room for them to buy a wide-range of items.
Letters and cards from friends and family.
I still have a handwritten recipe for no-bake cookies my Granny Redmon sent to me over three decades ago. She lived to nearly 101 years old and wrote me this treasured letter in the last few years of her life. I’d recognize her penmanship anywhere and each time the envelope crosses my path it takes me back to her kitchen in the hills of North Carolina.
Your son or daughter may get a lot of texts and comments on social media, but those won’t pull up special memories and a knowing of being loved like a handwritten letter from home. This may come in the form of a funny card with a short note. Or like my dad, a long letter reminding me of events gone by and encouraging me for the ones to come. Either reveals valuable time and effort spent.
I know. Most of our phones are bursting at the seams with photographs and video. And with so many social media platforms, this has exploded 100x. But rarely does a photo actually get printed and framed. After it is initially shared, it often falls into the ocean of thousands of other photos, never to be seen again.
This doesn’t need to be extravagant. In fact, something small and simple will more likely be put on a desk or shelf instead of in the drawer. Pick a photo of friends, a family gathering, a favorite pet, a sporting event. The important thing is to give them something they’d want to display. Something to remind them of the people they love and important milestones they’ve achieved.
Get Out of Jail card.
All of us make mistakes. All of us have made choices we regret or have gotten ourselves into a corner. They probably won’t find themselves in a literal jail, but this fun addition lets your kids know you’re there for them, no matter the circumstances. Financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. If they get into a situation they can’t get out of alone, they can call home and use their “free” card.
We live in a technological age. Most all of what our kids do happens on a device of some sort. My son went all the way through college reading his textbooks and taking notes on his phone. It’s a whole different world than when we were in school. Even a lot of their social life occurs via technology without any personal connection.
Board games bring back the personal interaction. They open a door for real life conversation and critical thinking. Physical, hands-on games also allow for shared emotion. Laughter, embarrassment, frustration, excitement… too often these emotions are experienced while sitting alone, looking at a screen. To mature socially, it’s important to make room for them to be experienced in a safe, intimate setting.
Stick with me on this one. Most of us fall into one of four categories:
- The practical mom: You always give your kids socks for Christmas.
- The beach mom: You’ve never owned a pair of socks.
- The fun mom: Why in the world would you give a practical gift?
- The philosophical mom: You’d only give socks if there’s a deeper meaning behind it.
So it doesn’t have to be socks. It could be gloves if your kid’s in Minnesota or flip flops if they’re in Hawaii. It could be a t-shirt or sweatshirt or hat. Whatever it is, make this one a blend of fun and practical. Get polkadotted socks, a t-shirt with their favorite cartoon character, or light-up earrings. Your goal is to bring a smile every time it’s worn.
Last, but definitely not least, say a prayer as you pack and address your care package. This is the most valuable gift you can give your college student. Even if no one hears that prayer but you and God above, it will reverberate through your child’s life in ways greater than you know. Not sure what to pray? Here are just a few of the things they’ll need in the coming months and years.
- Wisdom to recognize truth.
- Courage to make the right choice.
- Joy in the midst of struggle.
- Laughter without regret.
- Friends who will bring out their best. And vice versa.
- Discernment to know God’s voice and movement.
- A teachable mind and heart.
- Vision for their future.
Think of your care package as a pebble you throw into the pool of your son or daughter’s world. It may be small. It may be large. But it will make a difference.