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DIY Back-to-College Care Package

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Gift Card Mall. All opinions and text are my own.

DIY Back-to-College Care Package | A step-by-step guide to building the perfect DIY back-to-college care package for your friend or family member heading back to school.

Care packages: the best two words a college kid could ever hear. Getting a package from my family or friend could always put a smile on my face without fail- even if it was a bad day. With the back-to-school season gearing up, it’s about time to start planning for your care packages again. In fact, it might even be a fun idea to send your friend or college-going family member a care package for the back-to-college season. Here is my step-by-step guide to help you build the perfect care package for your college student no matter the season:

STEP ONE | Pick Your Theme

Since it’s August, I obviously chose a back-to-school theme for my care package, but care packages are perfect for any time of the year. A few of my favorite themes/reasons to send a care package are:

  • Any holiday (include fun decorations for her/his apartment or dorm)
  • Homesickness (include a stuffed animal, photos, letters, sentimental items, etc.)
  • Finals/midterm season (include study essentials)
  • Just because (include virtually anything you want)

Of course, care packages are highly customizable, and you definitely don’t have to play by the rules. Include whatever you want… If your box doesn’t follow a theme, I highly doubt your college student will mind. Put as much or little effort into this step as you like.

STEP TWO | Choose Your Big Ticket Item

DIY Back-to-College Care Package | A step-by-step guide to building the perfect DIY back-to-college care package for your friend or family member heading back to school.

When making a care package, I like to vary the sizes and prices of my items and have one main gift- the biggest and/or most expensive part of the package. The great part about care packages is the variety and never knowing what you’re going to pull out next. Alternating the sizes and prices of items adds interest. With this care package, I relied solely on price and not size for my big ticket item.

The wow factor for my DIY back-to-college care package is the Fuel Everywhere Visa gift card. The Fuel Everywhere Visa gift card can be used at any gas station that accepts Visa debit cards and can be used on fuel, snacks, car washes, oil changes and other services. As a former broke college girl myself, I know there is nothing less fun to spend your money on than gas… But a girl has to get to Walmart, right?!

Don’t want to run from store to store in search of the perfect gift card? Gift Card Mall is a great website for buying gift cards. They have everything from Amazon gift cards to iTunes gift cards to Target gift cards to generic Visa gift cards. The possibilities are endless.

STEP THREE | Buy Your Filler Items

Once you have chosen your package theme and big ticket item, it’s time to buy your filler items! I decided to think of categories for my filler items as well. I chose three item categories:

  • School supplies
  • Relaxing/luxury items
  • Necessities (AKA snacks)

For all of the categories, I tried to choose items that a college kid might not want to spend their money on. So, I bought cute school supplies instead of the basics. I bought a candle, magazine and face masks as my luxury items. I bought healthy, fun snacks instead of the cheap stuff. Getting items your college student might not necessarily want to spend their own money on will make your care package feel like even more of a treat (and you were already highly practical with the Fuel Everywhere Visa gift card).

STEP FOUR | Find Your Packaging

Things to think about with packaging:

  • Does everything I bought fit?
  • Do I have to mail it? Or am I delivering it in person?
  • Can it be used after opening? Will they feel bad throwing it away?

I really like the idea of being creative with your packaging. With that being said, you have a lot more choices and freedom if you are delivering your care package in person. If you’re mailing it, you’ll probably be a little more limited. Regardless, it would be great if you could make your packaging multifunctional. For my care package, I found this great laundry basket for only 98 cents. It didn’t cost me anything and will be able to be used after opening the packaging instead of just being thrown away like a cardboard box.

Other creative ideas for back-to-college themed packaging:

  • Backpack
  • Storage containers

That’s it!

DIY Back-to-College Care Package | A step-by-step guide to building the perfect DIY back-to-college care package for your friend or family member heading back to school.

Your care package is officially complete. Now all that is left to do is get it into the hands of your college student. No matter how much or little effort and money you put into your care package, it is going to be appreciated- never worry about that! If your care package came from your heart, your college student will see that. A little gift can go a long way.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Moving Into Your First Apartment

5 Easy Hacks to Simplify College Life

7 Terrifying Thoughts You’ll Have Senior Year

Must-Have iPhone Apps for College Students

Preparing for a New Semester in College

Preparing for a New Semester in College

Preparing for a New Semester in College

Seeing the back-to-school sections all over stores makes it hard for me to believe that I’m not actually going back to school in the fall. I feel so old! Is it possible that graduating in three years has made me feel older than just 21? I think it has. 21 going on 31 (it doesn’t have quite the same ring as 13 going on 30, but it’s how I feel).

Lucky for me, I’m still gearing up for the back-to-school season here on the blog. And just like always, I’m getting ready ahead of the game! Keep reading and you’ll find out that getting ready early is better (and for some tips, necessary). Start now and prepare for a successful school year:

Moving into Your First Apartment

How to choose your first apartment, prepare for moving into your first apartment and move into your first apartment- or your second, third or fourth.

I have successfully made it through my first apartment lease and am anxiously awaiting my next. Living in my first apartment proved to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I loved the feeling of finding a home, taking care of a place and feeling like it was my own.

Last year around this same time, I wrote Moving into Your First College Apartment for the OCM Blog. Since then I have only gained more helpful hints and tricks, so I’m editing and adding onto my first apartment guide here today!

5 Easy Hacks to Simplify College Life


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of IntelliARMOR. The opinions and text are all mine.

Easy Hacks to Simplify College Life

College was the first time I was ever on my own for a considerable amount of time. And let me tell you, it didn’t take long for me to realize that being on your own entails a lot more than you think. You have to handle your own schedule, cooking, cleaning, spending, work, homework. Everything. Before it gets to overwhelming, I’m sharing 5 hacks that I learned during my time at college that will make your 4 years a little bit easier.

Big Spender

It’s easy to overspend- whether you’re in college or not! It all starts out so innocently. You have every intention of staying in and cooking a cheap meal… but then your friends call and want to go out for dinner and grab a few drinks after. Repeat a few times a week, and you’ve spent way more than planned.

I think it’s easier to spend less when you pay attention to your expenses. Mint is a really helpful app that tracks what you are spending your money on. When you see just how much you are spending on clothes/fast food, you might just be shocked into keeping your purse locked up. Mint also has other great features; Mint sends you bill reminders and allows you to check out how hypothetical situations will affect your bank account. Want to add a few extra dollars to your savings account each month, Mint will create a graph to help you visualize how much more you’ll have saved by the end of the year.

Too Many Chargers

Easy Hacks to Simplify College Life

As a college student and especially as a college blogger, I had so many electronics. Instead of dealing with a ton of different chargers, the IntelliSMART 4-Port USB Wall Charger allowed me to charge all of my devices in one plug quickly. If your device uses a USB, you can use the IntelliSMART charger. This means whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, Fitbit, camera, anything, you can charge it. Not only does the IntelliSMART charger save you the space and hassle of dealing with a number of different wall plug-ins, it also has smart technology that allows your devices to charge as quickly as possible without overcharging. The intelligent wall charger determines the charging needs of each attached device individually.

I have to say, I’m always super nervous to purchase accessories for my phone that aren’t Apple products because haven’t we all bought one of those charging cords that goes in and out and you’re left fiddling with your phone just to try to get it to charge for a few seconds before being forced to repeat the process? Yeah, I learned quickly saving a few extra dollars was not worth the hassel. I was pleasantly surprised, however, that with the IntelliSMART charger, my device really did charge quickly and efficiently. It’s worth the money. With the coupon code SmartPwr you can even get 20% off!

Struggling Student

I’ve written on how to study and stay healthy during finals and on how to increase your productivity. These are both great posts to check out if you are struggling in class, but I’ll put it here simply. It is quite possible to think you are studying so much and so hard and trying your best and still do poorly in classes or even just one class. The thing is, though, the way most college students study isn’t the most effective or even easiest way to study. You’re working harder than you have to. If you are struggling in classes or even just one class, it’s time to overhaul how you study. Here are a few hacks to help you study more efficiently and get better grades:

  • Reread your notes every night after class.
  • Take short, frequent breaks when you study. This will help you focus, I promise! You aren’t wasting your time like you think.
  • Exercise before you study.
  • Don’t wait to study the day of your exam. You remember information better after a good night of rest.
  • Set your phone down and focus on what’s in front of you.

Screen Time

Easy Hacks to Simplify College Life

As a college student we spend a lot of time in front of a screen. And here’s a real shocker: it isn’t good for our health. I have two recommendations to make your screen time shorter and healthier. To cut your screen time down while you are studying or sitting in class, block social media. My biggest time killer is Facebook. I scroll and scroll and scroll without ever posting, commenting or interacting. It really is wasted time. There are apps you can download on your computer to block distracting sites for a set amount of time while you study. If you’re on a PC, check out Cold Turkey to block your distractions. Cold Turkey is also coming soon for Mac, but if you need a program to block your apps on a Mac right now, there is also Self Control. Make sure to check out the reviews on Self Control first though! I’ve heard mixed reviews. I personally wouldn’t recommend it; if I had to choose, I would wait it out for Cold Turkey.

To make your time sitting at the computer healthier, I suggest downloading an app like f.lux. f.lux adjusts your computer screen to match the lighting during various times of the day. The website explains that, “during the day, computer screens look good—they’re designed to look like the sun. But, at 9PM, 10PM, or 3AM, you probably shouldn’t be looking at the sun.” Through adjusting the lighting on your computer, f.lux will help you sleep better. Another great way to make screen time healthier is by investing in a pair of computer glasses. I wrote a post about the benefits of computer glasses and my favorite brand last year here. Long story short, computer glasses help block blue light, preventing digital eyestrain. Have you ever gotten a headache from sitting at the computer to long? That’s a good sign you’re suffering from digital eyestrain!

A Busy Planner

To plan out my schedule, I used to use a planner and a black pen. Then my schedule started to get hectic. My assignments and appointments were running together, and my planner was difficult to read. I decided to invest in a multi-color pen set, and my schedule automatically became easier to follow. Using different colors for each aspect of your life helps the important things stand out. For example, I used my blue pen for homework assignments. My green pen for sorority obligations. My pink pen for blog-related work. And my orange pen for everyday life and plans with friends, family, etc. After making the switch, I never forgot an event! If you don’t want to spend the money on a new set of pens, try highlighters or any other colored writing utensils you have available!

I want to know: How do you simplify your college life? Have you ever tried computer glasses? What are your favorite study tips? Let me know in the comments below!