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