Care Package FAQs

Marcia948Marcia Barton is a graduate of LSU who stumbled into her current occupation as owner/operator of Love in a Box LLC, a cottage bakery specializing in care packages for LSU parents and students. A few weeks after her current Tiger moved to campus, she privately offered to gift a box of homemade brownies with a note from the out-of-state mom to a student who was having a bad week. A Facebook thank-you from the mother turned into other parents requesting to be able to order similar packages, and the rest is history. Doing this is like a made-to-order extension of everything Marcia loves: baking, creating, people, and LSU!

 

When is the best time for parents or family members to send care packages to their students?
There are a variety of “perfect times” for care packages from home. The first opportunities are the first day of classes and sometime during the first week of the college experience. Many parents leave a small care package or note as the family leaves the Tiger’s new residence on move-in day. Not only will the freshman love the thoughtful gesture, it also has the added benefit of helping the parents feel a bit better. The paint bucket we hid in our daughter’s first campus residence was filled with her favorite snacks, a coffee gift card, and notes from each family member expressing pride and upbeat encouragement.  (Caution: This may be habit forming! That bucket makes an appearance each time she moves, and she’s very careful to make sure it ends up back home so she can count on hunting for it the second we boxleave her in her next place!) Leaving or sending something sweet a day or two after move-in with an encouraging note for your Tiger to share with roommates will help them get to know some members of their new LSU family and let them know you’re thinking of them.

About three weeks in to the semester, when the newness is wearing off and homesickness starts peeking through (even if they won’t admit it outright), a care package or card can offer cheery support from home along with a reminder to keep the bigger picture of long-term goals in mind.
student1In addition to the usual holidays (birthdays, Halloween, Valentine’s day, any holiday they can’t come home), other good times for a student to receive a little something from home include while they’re preparing for big tests/projects, after big disappointments (school-related or otherwise), and during midterms and finals.  A “just thinking of you” and “we’re SEAUX proud of you!” gift arriving out of the blue is always a big hit, too. And it also helps mom and dad feel a little more connected to their Tiger! Remember to keep any notes or letters upbeat , encouraging, and totally focused on your Tiger.

 

What should I include in the care package?
While there are plenty of options to order and have something wonderful delivered (even Amazon and the ResLife Association are in on the act), a care package doesn’t have to be elaborate; small and simple can work just fine to give your Tiger that “loved on” feeling. For parents interested in the convenience of a purchased care box2package and who are members of the Official LSU Parents Page there’s a document in the file listing several local businesses other parents have recommended through the years. Those who’d like to create and mail their own might consider sending a favorite snack or two (especially something only available at home, whether homemade or purchased); a post-card sized photo or inspirational quote to tack up on the residence hall/apartment wall; a gift card to a local eatery, coffee shop or movie theater; a spirit item, a new techie toy, book or game you know they’ll like…plus those encouraging notes from members of the family. Get siblings and grandparents and anybody significant from “back home” in on the act if you can. There are lots of Pinterest-worthy ideas for making the packaging as creative and fun as the sender can manage, but this is one place where it truly IS the thought that counts most. Your package should primarily evoke “mom/dad/home,” not Martha Stewart (unless your kids think you ARE Martha Stewart, of course!)

 

student2Do you have any resources you recommend for parents who are preparing to send a care package?
Now that I’m mailing care packages to my 2017 LSU grad who is teaching in Texas, I have had success using Little Kitchen’s tips on mailing cookies so they arrive in good shape. TheMilitaryWifeandMom site has some cute, tweak-able ideas for themed packages to make holidays apart a little easier for everyone. While the theme ideas may seem “a little over the top,” they serve as a good starting point. Finally, of course, there’s Pinterest, which can be either your best friend (lots of ideas from which to pick and choose) or your worst enemy (is anything ever “enough” anymore?!). So typing “college care package” in the Pinterest search bar is done strictly at your own risk.

Do you have any additional advice for parents who may be sending care packages to their student?
Three other thoughts about sending care packages:

  • student3
    • Keep your focus on your student. Don’t worry about what other students are getting (or not getting), or when they’re getting it. You know your student better than anyone, so just pay attention to those little clues that a long-distance “hug” would be welcome. Then send them something that suits their likes and dislikes and your skills and budget when they need it. It’s all about reminding them they’re thought of, missed, and loved.
    • Be mindful of the walk back to the residence hall from the Union post office when planning your package. Lugging a too-heavy or awkwardly large box might take some of the shine off getting something from home.  If you have tons of “perfect” ideas, send two smaller packages spaced a few weeks apart to double the fun.
    • Include your student’s roommate(s) somehow. You could send multiplesbox1 of items (with instructions to share) or tuck in something special that’s tailored for the roomie, along with a little note. Ditto for your student’s Resident Assistant or the Residence Hall Desk Assistant, who work long hours to help make LSU your Tiger’s home away from home.
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5 Steps to a Cajun Thanksgiving


danielleDanielle Ford is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Higher Education Administration & Public Administration and is a Graduate Assistant for Student Advocacy & Accountability.  
Danielle is from Baton Rouge, LA and studied abroad twice: Paris in 2009 and London, Brussels, & Paris in 2011-2012.

As a Baton Rouge native and LSU alumna, I know a thing or two about Cajun cuisine. As the President of the Thanksgiving Fan Club (not a real thing, but maybe I should invent it!), I’m positive I know a lot about Turkey Day. If this is your first holiday season in Louisiana, there is a lot you should know about how to celebrate a proper Cajun Thanksgiving, and as a self-appointed expert, I’m here to help you out!

1. Dressing, dressing & more dressing! In Cajun Country, we are connoisseurs of dressing of all types: we have cornbread dressing, rice dressing, crawfish dressing, oyster dressing, and andouille sausage dressing just to name a few. Your choice of dressing just might make or break your Cajun Thanksgiving.

2. Turkey does not reign supreme. In many Cajun households, turkey is just one of the many meat options served on Thanksgiving. Traditionally in my family, we prepare deep fried turkey, baked turkey, ham, roasted chicken or Cornish hens, and of course gumbo! It’s not that we don’t love turkey; we do! But when we cook a meal on Thanksgiving, we like to go all out!

pie3. It’s all about the sweet potatoes and pecans. For most Cajun households, we cannot live without some kind of dish made with sweet potatoes and/or pecans. You’ll often find a platter of candied yams, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole (topped with pecans!) and an assortment of sweet potato and pecan pies – no pumpkin found here!

4. Thanksgiving is for college football. We all know that traditionally, the Detroit Lions play (and lose) their annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game. But in many Cajun households, the biggest sporting event of the year is the annual “Bayou Classic” featuring the Southern University Jaguars against the Grambling State University Tigers. Usually held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome in New Orleans, the Bayou Classic is a staple. While many love to watch the longstanding football rivalry come to a head, even more fans salivate for the “Battle of the Bands” competition the night before the game. If you’ve never seen a HBCU’s band play, make sure to turn in during this year’s Bayou Classic Weekend for a real treat! #GeauxJags

5. We Are Family! Thanksgiving is all about family. But if you can’t spend the day with your biological family, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day. Get a group of friends together and have your own Friendsgiving. If you’re from out of town, see if you can be the guest of a local friend. As long as you bring a few cases of Coke and an empty stomach, you’re sure to be welcomed in with open arms!


P.S.
Here’s a tried and true recipe for Sweet Potato Pie!

Back to School

11885339_955484164494592_331845813517572457_nMeet Jordan Lange, a Junior majoring in Biological Sciences from Erath, Louisiana.  I Jordan is involved in LSU Ambassadors and served as an Orientation Leader for the College of Science this past summer.

As winter break comes to an end, it is time to return to Baton Rouge for the start of the spring semester. I am sure that students are currently getting last minute things together in order to prepare for the first day of school. I am sad that winter break is over, but I missed my home here in Baton Rouge and am excited to get this semester started.

I spent most of my break back home in the small town of Erath, Louisiana. It was great getting to visit with friends from high school and spend quality time with my family. I hope that everyone had a great holiday season and the opportunity to eat delicious home cooking in the weeks that we were away from campus. Being from South Louisiana and Cajun Country, I can assure you that I ate some delicious food including many servings of gumbo and rice and gravy. By far my favorite part of winter break was cheering on the LSU Football team at the 2015 AdvoCare Texas Bowl in Houston, Texas. Having the opportunity to watch Leonard Fournette score five touchdowns and to hear Callin’ Baton Rouge in NRG Stadium surrounded by thousands of Tiger Fans was incredible.12182481_990855720957436_2722092496713124772_o

It is time now for the spring semester to start and I could not be more excited to return to my home away from home, Baton Rouge. With spring classes beginning today, remember that you and your student have done this before. The freshmen class has made it through the first semester and is much more familiar with college now. My best advice for the spring semester is to hit the ground running from the first day. It can be hard for students to get back into a routine coming off a long break, but it is important for them to make a schedule as soon as possible. Always remember that the start of a new semester is a clean slate. Regardless of how your student did last semester or in semesters before that, spring 2016 is a new semester and gives every student a chance to put their best foot forward. Always remember that your student is not alone at LSU and that there are resources here to help including the Center for Academic Success, the Student Health Center, and the Center for Freshman Year (UCFY). These resources and the LSU faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students succeed at LSU.

For parents and families, my best advice is to always be there for your student. College can be very stressful and emotional at times, but it can also be the experience of a lifetime. I call my mom and dad often just to talk about things and share my experiences. My parents always send me words of encouragement before my tests and remind me that hard work and dedication will pay off later in life. As students, we are thankful for you, our parents and families, because we depend on you for encouragement and support.

I hope that everyone has a great first day and an even better spring semester. Orientation Leaders and Parent Orientation Leaders are always available to answer student questions. Love Purple, Live Gold, and Geaux Tigers!

 

Extra Love

unnamed-3Meet Kendra Turley. Kendra is a 22 yea old senior from Houston, Texas. She’s majoring in Mass Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Journalism. She’s involved in multiple organizations on campus such as LSU Ambassadors, STRIPES, Tiger TV and much more!

We all know that February is the month of love. Whether that’s a love for king cake, crawfish, a significant other or family members. Everyone is a little more understanding, a little more passionate and a little more caring around this time. Love fills the air!

However, for students… this is the month that we take our first exams. This is the month where it gets a little bit harder to balance work, school and a social life. This is the month where we are in desperate need of EXTRA love!

As a senior, I’ve experienced my fair share of Valentine’s Days at LSU. So I’ve listed some ways that you can show your student some “extra love” during this holiday!

L – Listen

We will have a lot of emotions during this time. It might be excitement. It might be nervousness. It might be disappointment. It might be loneliness. Whatever it is, we will call you and want to talk about it. The most important thing you can do is listen. Listen to us vent. Let us get it all off of our chest.

O- Offer

Offer advice. We may be too stubborn to admit it sometimes but we really do take your advice. Offer support. It’s easy to get the feeling like “we’re on our own and all alone”. Remind us of the support system we have back at home. Offer money! Now wouldn’t be such a bad time to transfer some change into that bank account (even though we over-drafted last month).images

V- Visit

Do not hesitate to pay your student a visit! Seeing the family can be the turning point in a student’s semester. Sometimes they need to realize how much they miss that annoying little brother. Whether it’s for a couple of hours or a couple of days, family visits are the best.

E- Eateries

Food is our friend! It gets us through everything! it is the answer to all of our problems. Take us out to eat. Send gift cards to our favorite restaurants. Surprise us with a cookie cake or a care package! You’ll be surprised how big of an impact goldfish and gummy worms can have.

Now, this is just a guideline. Every student is unique. However, one thing I know for sure is that every student wants to feel a little bit of #extralove from their family during this time.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love Purple, Live Gold…and Green too!

MG PhotoMeet Margaret Vienne, a first-year student in the Masters of Higher Education Administration program. She earned her Bachelors degree in English Writing from Loyola University New Orleans in May of 2013. She hails from Natchitoches, LA and is currently serving as a graduate assistant for activities for Campus Life. Margaret enjoys LSU football, eating pancakes at Louie’s Café, making homemade King Cake, and meeting new students!

Below you will find some of my helpful tips as you prepare to navigate the Big Easy and Baton Rouge this Mardi Gras season.

  1. Kneaux Your Stuff: Take time to learn a bit about this crazy thing we call Mardi Gras. Your time in the Big Easy will be much more enjoyable if you know a little something about what you are partaking in. New Orleans has a rich history that’s worth exploring. Some key things to learn about include: Flambeauxs, Mardi Gras ladders, history of the krewes, the story behind king cakes, the Mardi Gras Indians, and the meaning behind purple, green, and gold.
  2. “It’s a Potty in the N.O.L.A.”: So you put your hands up, they’re playing your song, and then realize you need to use the restroom. Bathroom lines can be long so it is wise to identity a nearby restroom prior to the start of the parade or buy a port-a-potty armband that allows you to use a nearby restroom all day. Now, with that being said, the necessary resources at these port-a-potty spots often run out so be sure to bring your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
  3. There’s an App for That: While cell service can be spotty, there are some great apps out there that are good to have during Mardi Gras. WDSU’s Mardi Gras Parade Tracker and Find My Friends are a few of my go to apps during Mardi Gras. Another tech tip: You will have little to no access to outlets while on the route so it is wise to invest in a portable phone charger.
  4. Early Bird Gets the Beads: Arrive early to the parade route to ensure that you get a good spot. Seasoned Mardi Gras goers and locals have this down to a science. Chances are their spot on the route while be staked out hours prior to your arrival. They know where to be and when to be there to ensure the best parade viewing. Arriving early also allow you to get to know the group next to you, identity the nearest restroom, and grab some sustenance while a friend holds down your spot. Arriving early has its benefits!HDRtist Pro Rendering - http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtistpro/
  5. It’s Raining Beads and Doubloons: New Orleans weather can be unpredictable so be sure to check the weather the morning before you head out to the route. Comfortable rubber boots are ideal for rainy carnival weather.
  6. Let Them Eat King Cake: Restaurants will have long wait times so it is wise to access the local food booths at various churches and businesses along the route. The prices aren’t bad, the wait is bearable, and it is a great way to support the local community. Plus, you don’t want to spend the majority of your day inside of a restaurant when you could be outside experiencing the parades!
  7. Wear Watcha Wanna: Don’t be afraid to spice up your parade wardrobe with a tutu, fun leggings, a classic Perlis Mardi Gras polo, or any clothing item that gets you in the spirit of the season! You will see plenty of costumes along the route. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking.
  8. Don’t Take the Road Less Traveled: Always walk in large groups, park in a safe area, and plan your transportation ahead of time. Most major roads around the parade routes will be closed to traffic and it will be important for you to allow time for parking. In the event that you are separated from your group, plan a meeting place for your group. Also, be sure to keep your personal items on the front of your person. A fanny pack is a great Mardi Gras bag! It allows you to keep your items safe and your hands free for prime bead catching.
  9. R-E-S-P-E-C-T…the Police: The police are there to keep you safe. Do not run into the streets while parades are rolling. A bead or moon pie is not worth a crushed hand or foot. Also, be sure you do not relieve yourself in public or get into a fight. Not only do these acts go against the mission and values of LSU, but both will result in time behind bars and anyone put in jail during Mardi Gras weekend is not allowed out until the day after Mardi Gras. This is no joke.
  10. Pick a Side, Any Side: Someone may ask you if you are neutral ground side or sidewalk side. They are asking you which side of the street you will be viewing the parade from. People take this seriously and rarely deviate from their long-held tradition of watching parades from a specific side. As for me, I identify as a neutral ground side gal!

Happy Mardi Gras, Ya’ll!

New Orleans Parade Schedule http://www.nola.com/mardigras/parades/

Baton Rouge Parade Schedule: http://www.mardigras.com/parades/index.html?location=baton-rouge