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How to Plan a College Care Package Assembly Party

You can assemble a care package with lots of variety when you host a college care package assembly party. What’s that? Read on for all the details!

table with moms standing around it working on decorating care package boxes

One of my favorite things, when I was in college, was receiving a care package in the mail! In fact, a few years ago I found some of the notes that I’d saved from my parents that had been tucked inside a few of the packages I received. ❤

Care packages are such a fun way to feel connected to your student any time during the semester. And for students, there’s nothing like getting the notification that there’s a package waiting! Final exam time is a particularly good time to send a little love from home.

My son had a close group of friends when he was in high school, and I became very close to some of the moms. It was wonderful having my own little posse of women who were feeling the same sorts of emotions as we sent our boys off to college. And I loved all their sons too!

One night on our group message I asked if they’d be interested in doing a college care package assembly party. We would each bring enough of one or two different treats or stress-relievers for each of the boys. And then we’d assemble the packages and decorate the boxes together. Everyone loved the idea!

Here are my tips for planning one of these gatherings for your favorite college student.

Tips to Prepare for a College Care Package Assembly Party

1. Send out an invite 3-4 weeks before final exams begin.

I sent the invite using our group text message, but you could do it via e-mail or any other group messaging app. I suggested three dates that worked for me and we all chose the best date and time for the majority of the moms.

2. Communicate what everyone plans to bring

We each shared which item(s) we were planning to contribute to the packages. We wanted to have a range of sweet and salty snacks along with a few healthier options to get them through some late-night study sessions. I’ve added a list of ideas to include in the care packages at the bottom!

3. Pick up boxes from the Post Office

Based on the number of moms participating and what everyone was planning to bring, we decided we would each be filling a medium-sized, top-loading, flat-rate box. The US Post Office has flat-rate boxes in a variety of sizes available for free. So I picked up 11 boxes the morning before we were getting together.

4. Get supplies to decorate inside the box flaps

As a former paper scrapbooker, I have a LOT of patterned-paper at my house. I pulled out a stack of papers in the school colors for the colleges where our sons attend. This is totally optional! But it is fun to decorate the boxes. You can get stickers, and markers, and even printable care package flaps! If you’re decorating the flaps, make sure to have some adhesive and either scissors or paper trimmers available. I’ve added a list of supplies to have on hand at the bottom of this post.

5. Refreshments

If you’re making a party out of putting the care packages together, why not have some snacks and drinks on hand for your guests?! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. A little wine, a little cheese, some cookies or chocolates, and the mamas are all happy!

Care Package Assembly Night!

As people arrived, we set up all the goodies on my kitchen island. Next time, I think I’m going to switch and put the goodies on my kitchen table and use the island as the box decorating station.

kitchen island covered with goodies to go inside a care package with moms standing around socializing

We had so many fun ideas! Here are some close-ups so you can get a better idea of what we included. Obviously, we had some Smartfood and Smarties!

A variety of items to put inside a care package on a kitchen island

We were assembling 11 care packages, so we decided that if there were extras, the mama who brought that item put the extras in her son’s package.

a variety of items for a winter or holiday care package

This was just before Christmas, so the candy cane stirrers and hot cocoa were a nod to the season. You could do lemonade packets or something fun like little squirt guns before spring finals.

hot cocoa mix, gum, cracker jacks, mints, lottery tickets, ginger ale, microwave popcorn

Who doesn’t love some gum, and cracker jacks, and those soft, yummy mints? Those are bottles of Schweppes ginger ale in the background. These boys of ours called themselves Schweppes (long story) so we had to include some! You can legally mail a bottle of soda. But you may want to consider putting it in a Ziploc bag in case it springs a leak.?

packages of cracker jacks, lottery tickets, Starbucks instant coffee, and candy bars

One mom had the amazing idea of including some scratch-off lottery tickets! How fun is that? And my son loves lattes so I included these yummy instant latte packets.

pencils, warm fuzzies made from yarn, bubble wrap, microwave popcorn

Each boy got a few bags of microwave popcorn and some homemade Rice Krispie treats. Those are a great homemade treat that holds up really well in the mail.

A few other non-food items were some fun pencils and little yarn pom poms called “Warm Fuzzies,” plus some bubble wrap as a little stress reliever.

Assembling and Decorating the Packages

I provided packaging tape, so each mom first constructed their son’s box. Then we all went around the island filling the boxes with the treats and goodies.

Next, it was time to decorate the inside flaps of the boxes. I set out scissors, adhesive, markers, patterned paper, pens, white card stock, and paper trimmers.

patterned paper, paper trimmers, markers, pens, scissors, and adhesive on a table

Call it cheesy or call it a little OCD, but it was fun to decorate the box flaps!

Moms working on decorating post office mailing boxes around a kitchen table

Plus it was more time to chat and catch up about life and all the boys. Since we all care about each other’s sons so much, we each wrote them a little note of encouragement wishing them good luck to tuck into the box.

Top down view of a filled college care package decorated with school colors and notes about final exams

Since our boys are all friends, we tried to mail them on the same day so they’d be a surprise. But we forgot that some of them are closer than others so they arrived sooner. The best part was when we found out that the boys were all texting each other to find out if they’d gotten a package too!

Supplies You’ll Need:

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Ideas for a Final Exam Care Package:

Salty Snacks:

  • Smartfood popcorn
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Goldfish
  • Slim Jims/Jerky
  • Packages of pretzels or chips
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds/Peanuts/Mixed nuts

Sweet Snacks/Treats

  • Smarties candies
  • Granola bars/protein bars
  • Gum
  • Favorite candy treats
  • Cookies
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Instant oatmeal packets


  • Drink Mixes
  • Instant coffee packets or K-cups
  • 5-hour Energy shots

Healthy Supplements

  • Chewy vitamin supplements
  • Airborne immunity boost tablets
  • Melatonin

Fun Activities

  • Scratch-off lottery tickets
  • Bubble wrap
  • Play-Doh
  • Silly string
  • Slinky
  • Stress balls
  • Fidget spinner
  • Rubik’s cube


  • Fuzzy socks
  • Pictures of family or the family pet
  • Notes from family and friends
  • Funny mug or cup
  • Little stuffed animal
  • Warm fuzzies
  • Fresh highlighter or pens/pencils

Do you have other fun items you like to include in a college care package? Let me know about them in the comments!

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