College Care Package Ideas for Every Budget

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College Survival Kit

Got a new college student?

There’s no better feeling for a homesick college student than getting mail from home. It’s even more exciting when it comes in a box!

Between the cost of shipping and the items inside, sending care packages can get pretty expensive. Thankfully, you don’t need to break the bank to brighten a college student’s day! Send a little cheer with one of these care package ideas for every budget.

Fancy College Care Packages (from $12.99)

If you want to indulge your college student with a little splurge (or if Grandma is buying), spoil your recipient with one of these more extravagant options.

1. Hangry Kit

Hangry kit

Starting at $24.99, these Hangry Kits are a little spendy. They are ready-made if you’re crunched for time though, and they ship for free with Amazon Prime. While it’s great that you won’t need to stand in line at the post office or pay for shipping with this option, the truth is, they had us at “hangry.”

2. Inspirational Socks

women wearing strong socks

At $12.99 a pair, the cost of filling a care package with these Notes to Self Socks will quickly add up. Their cheerful affirmations would be such a fun morale-booster for a homesick college student, though!

3. ella + mila Nail Set

holding ella and mila nail polishes

Spoil your college student with a nail collection from ella + mila. Ranging in price from $18 – $80, their nail collections are vegan and 7-free.

Hip Tip: For a more affordable option, check out the beauty section at Target to curate your own collection of nail colors for your college student!

4. Fan Chest

man opening Fan Chest box

Starting at $59, a gift box from Fan Chest would be a total splurge! What a cool inaugural care package this would be for your incoming freshman, though. Send a box filled with gear featuring your recipient’s college logo, or choose from their favorite NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL team.

Hip Tip: Consider building a more budget-friendly fan chest by shopping at the college bookstore and choosing your own items to box up.

5. FabFitFun Box

FabFitFun Summer Box

Your college student will be the envy of her dorm when she gets up to $250 worth of beauty and lifestyle products in this FabFitFun Box! Although these boxes are regularly priced at $49.99, keep your eyes open for promo codes. We’ve seen them go for as low as $29.99! To learn more, read all about our experience with FabFitFun.

Frugal College Care Packages (from $3.50)

Send your college student a little pick-me-up with one of these more affordable options.

1. Target Beauty Box

Target beauty box

Target usually offers several different beauty boxes every month, and we’ve seen them go for as low as $3.50! When that happens, buy one of each that month, and you’ll have 3 individual care packages boxed up and ready to send – easy peasy!

2. Walmart Beauty Box

Walmart beauty boxes

Walmart also sells boxes full of fun beauty and personal care items! Regularly priced between $9 and $10, we’ve seen them go for as low as $5. Choose from themes like eyes, lips, and hair (they even make one for the guys, too)!

3. Box of socks

sushi roll sock package

Put together a theme (silly, cozy, seasonal, team colors, etc.), or present them in a fun way. For inspiration, check out these socks rolled to look like sushi or cute cupcakes.

4. Gift Cards

Rite Aid Discounted Gift Cards

It’s easy to control the budget with this option, too, because you get to choose the amount of the gift card. Plus, you can ship a gift card for much less than it costs to send a big box of goodies! Try searching to see if you can get the gift card you want to send at a discounted rate!

5. Dollar Shave Club

dollar shave club box

Imagine your college student’s surprise when they have to buy razors for the first time and realize how expensive they are. Now imagine their gratitude when free razors just show up in the mail! For $5, you can send the Ultimate Shave Starter Kit from Dollar Shave Club. Keep the subscription going with shipments every 2 months, or cancel at any time!

6. Cheryl’s Cookies

cookies in Cheryl's Cookie box

Cheryl’s Cookies runs frequent promotions allowing you to snag a 6-cookie sampler, PLUS a $10 reward card for just $9.99 shipped! Your college student’s cookie care package will arrive with a $10 reward card to use towards a future Cheryl’s purchase, so they can enjoy treats both now and later!

7. Love With Food

Love With Food snacks in box

Join Love With Food’s Snack Smart, Do Good Club for only $7.99 a month, and send your college student snacks made with real ingredients and no added chemicals. Keep the snacks coming for your college student by continuing with a monthly subscription, or cancel any time!

8. Seasonal decorations

Dollar Tree Halloween decorations

Consider filling a box with some fun & frugal decorations for their dorm room. Cruise the aisles at Dollar Tree or check out Bullseye’s Playground at Target for affordable seasonal decor. Put together a themed box for the next holiday on the calendar!

9. Dollar Tree College Survival Kit

College survival kit

Make an affordable College Survival Kit! Fill a basket with Dollar Tree items the recipient will both love and need. Get some ideas for what to put in your kit and download our FREE printable card.

10. Box of Sunshine

box of sunshine

Brighten someone’s day with a cheery box full of yellow items and our free downloadable card! You can completely customize the Box of Sunshine to fit your budget and the preferences of your recipient.

Consider sending a different color-themed box every month! Get reddy for midterms, orange you glad we love you so much, a little something out of the blue, we’re pinking of you… you get the idea! 😉

Frugal College Care Packages ($0)

No budget at all? We’ve got you. Let your favorite college student know you’re thinking about them by scoring some freebies and sending them their way!

1. Magazine Subscription

Gossip Magazines

Head on over to to earn a FREE magazine subscription for your college student! Simply complete a survey and redeem the reward points earned for a FREE subscription! Choose from 20 titles such as People, Sports Illustrated, and Travel & Leisure.

2. Make your own sample box

beauty samples

Start setting aside all of those freebies you’ve been scoring from couponing and following our freebie posts. If you’ve been following Hip2Save for a while now, you may already have a stash of freebies in your stockpile! Use them to make your college student a hand-selected beauty or snack box, and pay only the cost of shipping it out to them!

3. Handwritten encouragement

College students love getting mail of any kind – and it doesn’t have to come in a box! For the cost of a postage stamp, you can send your love in a handwritten letter, homemade card, or even a postcard to brighten your college student’s day. Get younger siblings and other family members in on the act, and stuff their mailbox full of good cheer with multiple messages on the same day!

Don’t send your college student off without checking this list first!

Join The Discussion

Comments 11

  1. acgold

    I have made the college survival laundry baskets for all my “kid” cousins for years. I add toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, bandaids “protection”, microwave popcorn, soup, plastic flatware, hangers, toiletries. Plus a gift card for Target or Amazon. They and their parents love that they don’t have to get all of it!

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s such a great idea and help to her parents, acgold! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Michele

    We have 3 in college & honestly they just love getting mail. Send dollar tree cards once a month or so. I know we can all call/text/FaceTime the college student, but mail is fun 🙂

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Three in college! Wow! Go MOM! I think snail mail is way more fun than an email!

    • Kristine

      This is so true! I work in the student post office at a small university and I often hear the students expressing gratitude for receiving snail mail (and sadly others commenting on how they never get mail 🙁 My daughter just graduated this May and my son is starting this fall and I try to put together a care package for midterms and of course finals. I usually go to the dollar store and make up goodie bags with food and drinks, etc as well as putting an encouraging note in. This way I can give a few out to my kids friends as well without breaking the bank. Three in college! That’s amazing!

  3. Lpmousse

    I put together care packages for my bestie’s daughter 3 times a year. She loves peanut butter, so I send that, and free protein bars I get, some pads, and other random stuff. She loves & appreciates it.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      Great idea and she’s very lucky to have you, Lpmousse!

  4. Susan

    I ask my college student each year to update the list of preferences for chocolate, salty/crunchy, candy, quick meals, etc. as well as non-food items so we know we are sending faves whenever hubby and I put together a care package (or family ask what they might send). We try to include items the roommate will also like as I recall how much I appreciated being included in care packages my roommate received. We also try to send something fun/unexpected as often as possible; seasonal items/decorations are always appreciated.

    • Jennifer (Hip Sidekick)

      I love the idea of including the roommate! Thanks so much for your comment, Susan!

  5. Lpmousse

    I put together care packages for my bestie’s daughter and cousin’s daughter a few weeks ago. Razors, shaving gel, food, fun freebies or cheapies I had acquired. I collected the stuff over many months and then sent it. They both adored the packages. It’s the stuff inside, but it’s also that you thought of them.

  6. shop4mybabies

    i did this with all of my sons friends when they went off to universities…don’t forget things like can openers nothing worse than wanting some spaghettios at 2 am and not being able to get the can open:)

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