Our series “A Gift for Giving” walks you through how to show your generosity and thoughtfulness to all the special people in your life. These back-to-school care package ideas will cure any bout of homesickness your child might endure.

The 2021-22 academic year looks like it will more closely resemble “normal” than the previous year, starting with college and boarding school students returning to on-campus living. After a lengthy period of enjoying home-cooked meals and snacks on demand, residential students of all ages may experience bouts of homesickness for those creature comforts. We have several back-to-school care package ideas to make the switch to dorm life easy, homey, and delicious.

Photo of a mother saying goodbye to her daughter at college

Boarding school beginnings

According to the Association of Boarding Schools, enrollment in K-12 independent and private boarding schools is experiencing a significant boost, with some schools seeing up to a 20% increase in applications for the 2021-22 academic year.

For many students, this will be their first time living away from the structure and comfort of home. For parents, this shift to your kids being on campus may be fast-tracking your empty nest syndrome.

Photo of students running through hallway

If you’re missing your kids before their suitcases are even packed, think about sending them a care package to arrive after their first few weeks of school. It’s a simple yet thoughtful way of saying “I’m thinking of you,” with a selection of items you know they like.

For the eater who likes a little bit of everything, an assortment of sweet and salty, fruity, and chocolatey snacks will hit all the right notes. Packed in a fir-wood crate with an affixed mini chalkboard, this prepared gift basket becomes the perfect solution for desktop storage, giving the recipient a convenient place to tuck away books and school supplies when the snacks run out.

Photo of heart-shaped candy

Is your student crazy about popcorn? Send a trio of classic flavors — butter, cheese, and caramel — with a personalized message or family photo to show you care.

College and university life

With the majority of U.S. colleges and universities planning for a 2021 fall semester of standard occupancy and class sizes, residential life will be back in full swing. While this may be an adjustment for any undergrad who’s spent the last year to 18 months enjoying homemade meals and sensible snacks (not to mention free laundry), the shift from home life to dorm life may be an even bigger shock to the system for incoming freshmen.

To help ease with this transition, arm your first-year college student with wholesome snacking options, such as fresh fruit and classic cheeses, to keep their energy up for long days and even longer nights.

Photo of college students studying

As the days grow shorter and nights grow cooler, it’s increasingly important your child gets the nourishment — both physical and emotional — they need. This array of easy-to-heat, homemade-inspired soups will help stave off those seasonal colds and midterm blues.

And for those weekends when you wish you could be there tailgating together, send a celebratory snack box that says “Go team!”

Make their dorm feel like home

It can be hard to make a dorm room feel like home, so sending your child some home décor should brighten their living quarters.

Home goods

Personalized items are a must. From welcome signs to wreaths to picture frames, there are lots of ways to add character to their little home away from home.

Flowers

Since most dorm rooms and apartment complexes won’t let you paint the walls or hang picture frames, students have to find other ways to add some color to their bedrooms. (besides the usual Pink Floyd posters). That’s where flowers come in! Even a small bouquet can add new life and a pop of color to any room.

Photo of flowers and a mug

Plants

In addition to flowers, plants are a great way to inject some vitality into a living space, and they’re also helpful for maintaining good air quality. Even if your student doesn’t exactly have a green thumb, you can still find them an option that requires little maintenance, such as a succulent or cactus.

Journal

Ask any college graduate about their time in school and they’ll probably tell you it was “the best time of my life.” Keep the memories they make in college alive and with them forever by jotting them down in a gorgeous gold-accented journal. Bonus: They can write five years’ worth of thoughts in it, so in case they end up staying on campus an extra year, they’re good!

Photo of student journaling

Something cozy

Winter is only a few short months away, and the walk to class in the cold and snow is no easy feat. Make their journey a little easier by sending a comfortable pair of Good Day™ Socks. With their signature message of “Gonna Be a Good Day™” inscribed on the toe, you can bet these socks will always make them smile — even during finals week!

Spa gifts

Dorm bathrooms aren’t exactly known for their elegance. But the right shower products can turn even a communal bathroom into a relaxing oasis. After a hard day of tests and projects, treat your scholar to a little relaxation with a premier spa gift basket in a number of favorite scents.

Photo of spa gifts

If sending a care package has you envisioning long lines at the post office and packing peanuts everywhere, don’t fret — we’ll do the heavy lifting for you. The 1-800-Flowers.com, Inc. family of brands offers nationwide shipping, including next-day delivery on many items. If you plan on sending any of these care package ideas throughout the year, the Celebrations Passport gives members unlimited free shipping for 12 months for a low one-time fee.

Author

Jenn Bussell has worked as a writer, editor, and communications strategist for more than two decades. She’s the co-author & editor of “Have Fork Will Travel: A Practical Handbook for Food & Drink Travel Industry Professionals” and a contributing writer to Centennial Media’s “The United States Presidents: The Best and Worst of All Time | 2020 Election Special.” In addition to writing about food and beverage, travel and tourism, and political history, Jenn also covers fashion and personal style. Her previous work includes a style column for the Washington Examiner and content creation for The Working Wardrobe.

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