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Check Out These Affordable College Care Package Ideas

2010 Murray State University

If you have kids or grandchildren away at college, they're likely to be feeling a little homesick right about now.  Care packages from back home are always appreciated, but they mean even more as students get settled into campus life.  Here are some ideas for putting together college care packages that student will love, but won't break the bank.

  • Unused Gift Cards: Every year about $2 billion in gift cards go unredeemed.  If you've been given a gift card that you're not going to use,  send it along in a care package.


  •  "Free" Items:  Next time you go grocery shopping, keep an eye open for buy-one- get-one-free offers on items like laundry detergent and other essentials, and ship the spare one off in a care package.  And, of course, it wouldn't be a college care package if it didn't include a sampling of at least a few of your family's favorite homemade treats.


  • Dinner Out:  Cafeteria food or noodles cooked in the dorm room get old fast, so an occasional dinner out is a welcome respite.  Use websites like,, and to find discounted restaurant gift certificates and other meal deals in your college town.


  • 2014 Family Calendar:  Make or buy a 2014 calendar and fill in meaningful dates related to your family, everything from birthdays and upcoming vacation and holiday plans, to the anniversaries of fun times you've had together in the past.  You can even find free downloadable calendars online that can be easily customized.


  • Customized Online Packages:  Think you're too busy to put together a care package and ship it? A growing number of websites, like,, and let you choose the goodies and ship them off with a simple click of the mouse.


  • Compare Shipping Rates:  Even if the contents of your care package come with a bargain basement price tag, shipping can be costly.  Websites like and let you find the least expensive shipping options.


Photo: Murray State/Flickr


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