Assembling a care package for a college student is one of the best ways to show your love and support. Choosing what to put into a small box can be a hurdle, especially if you only have a vague idea of your college student’s preferences.
You can start by using a process of elimination. Here’s a short guide on what not to put in a care package.
While sending your college student a taste of home is great, you have to consider the shelf life of the food and the handling of the package. Dishes that have tomato sauce or cream spoil much quicker, which can be dangerous if a person can’t detect the change in texture or taste in the spoiled food. Plus, the sauce may leak out of the packaging and spill all over the other items inside the care package.
Instead of a ready-to-eat dish, you can send ingredients or condiments that are native to your area, as long as they don’t spoil quickly. Your child can enjoy his regular cafeteria food more with the condiment for a few days. Pickled foods are great and they keep well, but make sure you secure the container so that the inside of the box doesn’t smell like vinegar or garlic.
Large Stuffed Toys
Unless your college student specifically asks for it, don’t put a large stuffed toy inside the care package. A stuffed toy is too high maintenance for a frugal college student. It also takes up too much space inside the package, which means there much less space for food and toiletries. It will also clutter up a bunk bed.
A large stuffed toy can also be a horrific dust magnet, which may cause issues if your college student’s roommates are allergic. Unless the student spends a sizable portion of his morning wrapping the toy in a large plastic bag before he or she goes to class, the stuffed toy may become dirty and grimy by the end of the month. The student will have to take a massive chunk out of his or her allowance to get the stuffed toy cleaned using a dry cleaning service. The student can hand wash it, of course, but a bulky stuffed toy takes too long to dry. Ordinary laundry facilities will only mangle the toy.
Candy is probably the easiest item to find in any convenience store or vending machine because college students seem to always need the sugar rush. Instead of sending this accessible junk food, send more nutritious items that aren’t always accessible to your child. Trail mixes, beef jerky and several packets of soda crackers are better suited for your child’s college lifestyle. Remember that when money is tight, your college student will turn to his stash of food from home for sustenance. You want him or her to be able to get the nutrition he or she needs and not a toothache.
Hygiene Products in Monster-size Containers
While your child will probably need Vaseline every once in a while, don’t send a whole tub. The same goes for shampoo, toothpaste and lotion. Small packets of hygiene products are more convenient, especially if you consider that many dorm closets are not much bigger than a locker. Using smaller packets will also encourage your college student to be less wasteful when using these hygiene products.
Photo Courtesy of Terry Johnston, flickr/Creative Commons
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