Love in a Box

by Laurie Krulc

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"Mom", Hilary said last August, "are you going to send me boxes with lots of good stuff in them?" She was about to leave for college, and this was one of her shy, "try-to-be-casual" questions. If you have a student away at college, you may have been asked the same question. You want them to know you love them and are thinking about them, so it seems like a good idea to send something from home. But what should you send? If you are like me, you don't want to always send food, but you don't want to spend a fortune on each package either.

Following are some ideas for boxes that I have found to be a hit. As you read through the list, keep in mind that some of these things are already in your house. Others can be picked up on sale or at the dollar store. Also, grandparents and other relatives are often eager to contribute to the box if you mention it to them. You should know that shipping these items often costs more than the entire contents of the box (see tips below). Sending cold, hard cash would definitely cost less. However, money just doesn't seem to say, "I miss you" as well as a thoughtfully planned package from home. Therefore you may want to send mostly consumable items that won't need to be shipped back home at the end of the year. Now the list:

  1. Cold Care Kit. Include cold medicine, lip balm, cough drops, a box of tissues, heating pad, packages of dry chicken soup and maybe a box of crackers. You could also include a soup mug or bowl.
  2. Comforts of Home. Include slippers, her/his favorite mug, packaged instant cocoa or tea, microwave popcorn, a favorite book or CD, stuffed animal, and photos of home.
  3. Technology Box. Batteries, ink cartridges for the computer printer, and a new game or other program for computer or game system would be perfect for this package.
  4. Laundry Kit. Include laundry soap tablets, fabric softener sheets, wrinkle release spray, rolls of quarters for the machines, a pop-up laundry hamper, etc. You may want to send money and coupons instead of some of the heavier items to save on postage.
  5. Middle-of-the-Year Box. Replenish supplies that could be getting low or worn out. Include new underwear and socks, school supplies (such as pens and pencils), and climate-appropriate clothing, such as flip-flops or a ski hat.
  6. Personal Care Box. Some great choices are deodorant, shampoo, hair and nail items, aromatherapy products, new pillow or blanket, perfume or cologne, lotion, dental care items, shaving cream and razors. Does the roommate snore? Throw in some earplugs.
  7. Homemade Cookies, Homemade Cookies, Homemade Cookies! Even though the cookies were almost a week old when my daughter received them, she still was very happy and ate every one herself.
  8. Grocery Box. Include macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, tea, cocoa, crackers, cheese in a can, dried fruit, granola bars, etc. Think lightweight, non-perishable, and somewhat nutritious.
  9. Dorm Decor. Picture frames, posters, glow in the dark stars for the ceiling, pillows, and organizers will be a hit.
  10. Fun Stuff Box. Include cards, game, books, puzzles, magazines, CD, DVD, tickets to events, or gift cards to the movie store or a restaurant.
  11. Holiday Themes. Include something to decorate the dorm room (string of lights, window clings, and door decorations), seasonal goodies, and small gifts.
  12. Think-of-Someone-Besides-Yourself Box. Stationary, an assortment of greeting cards (with a list of suggestions of to whom and when to send), email addresses of people who miss them, stamps, and phone cards could be included.
  13. Gift Envelope-No Box. Send a gift card. I prefer this to money (although money is good too), because it might actually be spent on what you had in mind.

I hope this will give you a good start on creating your own care packages from home for your student or other loved ones. I know it will be greatly appreciated.

Shipping Tips:

The usual ways to ship a package include the U.S. Postal Service and UPS (or another similar carrier). I have found prices are often almost the same between the two. Be careful about shipping UPS. If you do this, take it directly to the UPS shipping outlet. Do not take it to a mailing service store (typically located in a strip mall). These businesses will charge you a fee for their service on top of the UPS fee.

updated: August, 2014

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