I’ve almost made it to the halfway point of my son’s first year away at college. Thankfully, he’s been enjoying college life, which has made it easier for me to bear being halfway across the country from him for the past several months. Another thing that has helped is staying connected to him via calls, text, and mail. I’ve established a habit of sending him care packages once a month just to give him something to look forward to from home and this new tradition is a favorite for both of us.
Since my son was just home for Thanksgiving and will be coming home again for Christmas, I was stumped as to what to what to include in this month’s care package that he could use and enjoy. I realized that because he is taking finals immediately before he comes home for Winter Break, some treats to help him get through finals would make a fun surprise. So, I headed off to the store to pick up some things for a Finals Survival Kit.
Finals Survival Kit Ingredients
Here are the items I included in the kit:
- A bag of microwave popcorn
- A package of trail mix
- A packet of instant coffee
- A couple of chocolates
- A pack of gum
- A highlighter
- A mechanical pencil with break-resistant lead
I put everything in a quart-sized plastic bag and made up labels to staple over the top. Click the image below to download the labels for your own use.
This is what the front and back look like when the label is attached to the bag.
Almost everything I bought came in a pack of 6 or more, so I decided to make extras for his roommates and study partners. At just $3 per kit, this was a really inexpensive way to send a little stress relief to my son and his friends.
I mentioned that the kits only cost $3 each. Depending on your budget, you can easily make changes to cut the cost even more. For example, the gum was $1 per pack for my son’s favorite brand (Wrigley’s 5), but both Orbit and Extra are less expensive. Also, I opted for the Maxwell House Iced French Vanilla instant coffee (about 30 cents each) because my son is a new coffee drinker and still likes his sugary and light, but you can buy a 20 pack of Taster’s Choice instant coffee packets for $3.18 which is almost half the price per packet.
Here’s the detailed breakdown of what I bought and how much they cost, along with lower cost alternatives:
- Orville Redenbacher’s microwave popcorn – $3.98 for 12 (33¢/bag)
- Less expensive alternative: Pop Weaver $2.00 for 8 (25¢/bag)
- Kar’s trail mix – $7.48 for 20 (37.4¢/bag)
- Maxwell House Iced French Vanilla instant coffee – $1.82 for 6 (30¢/packet)
- Less expensive alternative: Taster’s Choice $3.18 for 20 (16¢/packet)
- Ghirardelli chocolates – $3.38 for 17 (20¢ each)
- Less expensive alternative: Dove Milk Chocolate Squares $3.24 for 35 (9¢ each) or Hershey’s kisses $3.54 for 72 (5¢ each)
- Wrigley’s 5 gum – $2.98 for 3 ($1/pack)
- Less expensive alternative: Trident $2.24 for 3 (75¢/pack) or Orbit $1.98 for 3 (66¢/pack)
- Case Mate highlighter – 88¢ for 3 (29¢ each)
- Paper Mate Sharpwriter mechanical pencils – $1.50 for 6 (25¢ each)
- Great Value quart storage bag = $2.48 for 50 (5¢/bag)
Popcorn = $0.33
Trail mix = $0.37
Instant coffee = $0.30
Chocolates = 2 x $0.20
Gum = $1.00
Highlighter = $0.29
Mechanical pencil = $0.25
Quart sized bag = $0.05
Total per bag = $2.99
By swapping in the least expensive options in the breakdown above, you could save 85¢ per bag, getting the cost per bag down to $2.15. If you are making kits for a large group (e.g. an entire class), you can probably save even more by buying in bulk at a warehouse club. The cost for Trident gum, for example, is under 50¢ per pack if you buy it at Sam’s Club in a box of 14 packs.
Of course, the cost analysis doesn’t take into consideration all of the extra items you’ll have left over after making each kit. Trail mix, popcorn, chocolate, and plastic storage bags are things my family uses on a regular basis so the extras were just added to our own supplies.
If you liked this care package idea, you might enjoy these other ideas: