Whether your child is leaving the nest to begin his first semester in college or you’re delivering a care package after he's arrived, you can surprise him with a gift basket that will help to lighten his financial load a bit and give yourself a little peace of mind too. Fill the basket with a variety of practical items that he’ll need on a daily basis and then sneak in a few extras that will make his time away more enjoyable and remind him that you’re always in his corner.
Start with a laundry basket instead of the traditional and smaller wicker basket. This way your college kid has somewhere to toss his laundry, and you've got more space to add things. Line the bottom of the basket with bath towels so he can make it from laundry day to laundry day. If he’s not accustomed to tackling the laundry pile on his own, include a brief note with basic instructions. Add detergent, softener, stain remover and quarters for the laundromat.
Include at least one pair of flip-flops to keep your college student's feet safe from the dorm's shower floor.
Toss in a few packages of alkaline batteries in different sizes and a backup battery for his tablet or cell phone for those times when he forgets to plug them into the charger.
Pick up at least one bottle of over-the-counter pain relievers to help alleviate his headache after an all-night study session or party night. An extra toothbrush and other toiletry supplies, such as shampoo, deodorant and razors will save him a trip to the store the next time he runs out.
Add a first aid kit to the gift basket. Fill the kit with antibacterial creams, hydrogen peroxide, bandages, compresses, throat lozenges and his favorite comforts for when he catches a cold. If he's bringing his car, add a vehicle safety kit, too, with flares, a flashlight, batteries, booster cables and a map.
Include a sleep mask and a few pairs of earplugs to tune out the world when his roommate is up late cramming or the party down the hall is breaking the sound barrier.
Keep him stocked up on school supplies, such as pens, pencils, erasers, highlighters, note cards, lined paper, notebooks and a package of computer paper for research papers and reports.
Fill up all the empty spaces left in the basket with snacks and easy-to-prepare foods to help keep her energy up. You can toss in microwaveable soups and stews if he has access to a microwave for quick meal preparation, high-protein granola bars and trail mixes for healthy munching food and tea bags, coffee and hot chocolate to warm and soothe your study-weary, young adult.
Provide a little emergency relief. If you can afford to splurge, include a little emergency money, too. Slide $20, $50 or $100 inside a nylon photo pocket. Write, "Emergency Only" on the pocket and seal it with clear tape so the money stays trapped until it's needed.
Include a few gifts with humorous notes, such as a plastic bottle of natural air freshener with a note that reads: "For times when life stinks," crayons: "To add a little color to brighten your day” and paperclips: "To help you hold everything together."
Add gift cards to his favorite coffee shop or diner. If you're worried about your child's grocery fund, you can include a few gift cards to supermarkets or natural food stores near the college campus. For a college kid who considers the kitchen foreign territory, consider adding gift certificates for pizza shops and his favorite restaurants.
Frame a favorite picture of the two of you together and include it in the gift basket. It will be reminder that you are rooting for him as he navigates the maze of college on his journey to adulthood.