Leaving the nest was exciting, challenging and at times a little scary. I moved into my first apartment when I was 18, with a woman who was beyond weird, like screaming and giggling for no reason, all the time, weird. Naive about all that it meant to live on my own; groceries, utilities, insurance, decorating, cleaning, roommates, roommates’ boyfriends, landlords, holidays alone and all the crazy antics that go along with it!
Like most college students, I was a pretty poor and maybe unlike many college students, I wanted to be self-sufficient; “I’ll do it myself” was my motto. I never asked for help, but somehow, mom always knew the prime times to give me unsolicited help and it was so incredibly appreciated! One of my favorite times of year was the holidays and the unsolicited help came in sneaky ways, especially since I was trying to stretch every dollar to buy gifts!
One of the greatest gifts a college student can receive is food. Yes, food. The comforting feeling of a full fridge and pantry is almost like mom’s arms around you herself. College students get pretty creative in crashing Sunday dinner, shopping in mom’s pantry on the weekends, making Ramen a gourmet meal by adding peas and sliced lunch meat, but nothing feels better than knowing that there’s something a little better than Ramen to choose from in the fridge, or you don’t have to go shopping for a week and can make that $25.00 grocery budget go a little farther on something else for the week.
So, in light of the holiday season and parents looking for last minute gifts for their college students, here’s one of the greatest gifts I looked forward to as a poor college student “Leaving the Nest”, the “Care Package”. I realize now that the care package was obviously one of my most expensive gifts every year, but to be honest, I don’t really remember the other stuff. I remembered the excitement of what was in the package and how awesome it was to fill my pantry, fridge, freezer and drawers, if even just for a month!
Every college student’s package will be a little different, but these are the things that I LOVED! I went to school locally, so my box could contain perishables, yours may not, but get creative; it’s amazing how wonderfully they turn out!
- Specialty cookies or treats
- Candies/Treats from local shops – mine was Idle Isle toffee from Brigham City, Utah – yum.
- Favorite snack – mine was beef jerky (college students can’t afford $10.00 a bag for a “snack”)
- Boxed Meals – with my name already written on all 4 sides
- Frozen Meals – with my name already written on all 4 sides
- Boxed desserts with extras like nuts, caramel, etc and a recipe– with my name already written on all 4 sides
- Ingredients for my favorite home cooked meals – sometimes they came with a recipe
- Gift card to local sandwich shop for quick lunches on the go
- Kitchen staples like sugar, flour, spices, salad dressings, olive oil, etc.
- Toiletries – deodorant, razors, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry soap and yes, even tampons (funny how the necessities in life can become something of great joy when you don’t have to buy them)
The funny thing about the care package is that even as an adult, married, with a teenager and self-sufficient, the care package tradition lives on strong and every year, it is the last present we open, and always one of the best! Granted, I don’t get tampons and laundry soap anymore (honestly though some years I wish they would still show up because I really hate buying them), but it is filled with my past favorites, tastes and smells that bring back memories from my youth, mixed with new exciting things to try, things that make me happy to my soul. If you’re a college student, I’d suggest you share this post with your parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, anyone who might take pity and create a great gift of love! Good luck and hopefully this will become a tradition at your house; I know I’ll carry on the tradition when my little one leaves the nest.