It’s not always easy living away from home for the first time. You are buried in responsibilities that you have never had to do before, you are surrounded by people that you don’t know and it can all be very scary and overwhelming. Even someone who knows how to cook, clean, manage money and balance studying may have a hard time finding people they can talk to. It really isn’t a simple task.
As a parent there isn’t always a lot that you can do for your child living so far away. You aren’t there to see what is missing from their kitchen or point out what needs to be cleaned, you certainly can’t cook for them. This is where care packages come in. When you can’t be there for your student, at least you can help them out by sending a few special items in the mail. It isn’t too difficult to put one together and for them, it’ll be like Christmas. Only better.
But before grabbing a box and stuffing it with all your child’s favourite stuffed animals from when they were 7 and an armful of their favourite chocolate bars, take into consideration these key rules:
- If it’s not an essential, keep it small or disposable. They don’t have that much space in their room for clutter, trust me.
- Always ask beforehand, what do they need? Everything else can be a surprise. Just shoot a text and give them a few days to think it over. This will prevent them coming back with duplicates of things that they already have at home.
- Don’t go overboard. Remember, they are trying to learn how to be independent! Treat them but don’t spoil them.
Now that we’ve set the rules, here are a few ideas for what you can send to your university student who is studying away from home. You can stick to one category for a themed care package or try to hit every category in one go!
What your Student Really wants in a Care Package
1. Something sweet (or savoury). Any food is appreciated, no questions asked.
- A bag of their favourite candy from a bulk store
- Handmade cookies/squares/bark/etc.
- Microwaveable popcorn
- Trail mix
- Granola Bars
- Halloween/St-Valentines/Easter candy
2. Something practical. Whether it is something that was forgotten or something that didn’t seem necessary at the time or something that needs to be replenished, these items can make life a lot easier for a university student and save them a couple bucks.
- Sweater, belt, or any other piece of practical clothing that may have been left behind
- Nail Care kit
- Cotton balls/ Q-tips
- Toiletries (a stick of deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash)
- Refill of a makeup, skincare or hair product
- White Out
- Post-it notes
- Pencils/ Pens/ Highlighters
- Magazine holders
- 3M hooks
- Duck/ electrical tape
- Screwdriver with interchangeable heads
- Chip clips
- Elastic bands
- Spices for cooking
- Extra bed sheets
- In-wash scent boosters/ dryer sheets
- Stamps (for your student to send letters back)
- Hand Warmers
- A calling card
3. Something to remind them of home. Something small from home can be incredibly comforting when you are constantly surrounded by new and strange things.
- A photo book (or digital photos on a USB key)
- A stuffed animal or figurine
- A childhood toy
- A picture frame
- A piece of jewellery
4. Something to keep them motivated. It’s sometimes tough to keep on track when you are living on your own. These motivation boosters can be real lifesavers, especially around exam period.
- A travel book for an upcoming trip
- A memento from a hero
- A letter/video from a friend
5. Something fun. Don’t forget that there is much more to university than studying, give them an opportunity to go out and have some fun with friends!
- Movie tickets (or concert tickets, if you want to be extra generous!)
- Passes for laser tag
- Card games (UNO, Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples, etc.)
- Gift cards (Restaurants are the best options)
6. Something to help them relax. Encourage your university student to take care of themselves not only physically but mentally as well. Supplies for a stress-free night in or a self-pampering day is always appreciated.
- Face masks
- Nail polish
- Tea or Hot chocolate
- Hot Water bottle
- Candles (or air freshener if candles aren’t allowed in their building)
- An audiobook
- A new pair of cozy socks
- Scented moisturizer
- A blanket
- Favourite book/graphic novel/comic book
7. Something handwritten. Texts and calls are nice but they don’t last forever. A handwritten letter is something that your university student can read over and over again whenever they need to. Bonus points if you include a sibling’s drawing or a picture of the family pet. What to write about:
- Current Events
- How proud you are
- Movie/music/book recommendations
- An easy recipe
- Some advice for getting through the year
- A joke or two
- Reminder to call/email/Skype/text/write more often!
Happy Care Packaging!
Lauren Ibbott is a second year University of Ottawa student, blogger and freelance writer. She frequently writes for DownshiftingPRO. Please follow her on Instagram @Lauren_Patii All opinions are her own. You can read more of her post below:
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