Student Life

Host a care package party!

By Diane Schwemm

Care packages are the perfect, no-strings-attached way to say, “I love you and am thinking about you.” When you want to celebrate your student’s birthday from afar, or show support during midterms and finals, a care package helps bridge the miles.

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High School Parent | College Parent

What’s the best way to put together a prize-winning care package that will make your student the envy of the residence hall? Host a care package party with fellow college parents! It’s truly a win-win. Not that you really need an excuse to put on a pot of tea (or open a bottle of wine) and hang out with friends old and new….

The secret to a unique care package is also what makes it super easy: each person only needs to contribute a single type of item. Here are tips for how to host your own care-package party:

Invite lots of people.

Reach out to everyone you know with a student away at college. 10-15 people is ideal for filling a box with goodies but five or six guests will be fun, too. Don’t know many other college parents? The UniversityParent College Parent Facebook group can help you make connections, or you can call the Office of Parent and Family Programs at your student’s school to ask for names and numbers of parents who live in your area.

Confirm your guests and the names of their students.

Start an email chain to find out if there are allergies or other dietary restrictions among the students. Let each other know what you’re bringing so you don’t duplicate.

Stock up on mailing supplies.

I like the flat-rate USPS boxes. Get a few more than you think you’ll need, both medium and large sized, and have mailing labels and pens ready as well.

Have a smartphone or camera available.

And if possible a printer with photo paper.

Each parent brings one item.

Multiplied by however many students will be receiving a package. (It doesn’t hurt to have a few extra, just in case.) Each parent can also bring short, pre-written notes to each student.

Ideas for items to include:

  • Dried fruit or squeeze packets of applesauce
  • Homemade granola or trail mix (check for nut allergies)
  • Energy/protein bars (ditto)
  • Popcorn
  • Small seasonal decorations or toys
  • Vitamin C drops
  • Tissue packs
  • Fun pencils, highlighters, Post-it notes, etc.
  • Jump rope, Frisbee, Hacky Sack ball, or playing cards
  • Note cards (homemade if you’re crafty) and a couple of stamps


Label each box with a student’s name.

Make sure to tag the box of any gluten-free students so parents can leave questionable treats out of those boxes.

Take a group photo.

Print and include in the package. (Or do one-hour photo finishing and distribute photos to your friends later.)

Stuff the boxes!

Don’t forget the personal notes and group photo. Parents can take the boxes home before mailing to fill any remaining nooks and crannies.



Other recent articles by Diane Schwemm:

Diet and exercise — Staying in balance
9 ways to help your student finish the semester strong
Talking about grades

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