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!

Why STRIPES?

IMG_3286Bio: English major, Junior, from Marshall, Texas. Involved in LSU Ambassadors, served as a STRIPES small group leader for 2 years, currently serving on executive staff

STRIPES bio: extended orientation program focusing on history and traditions, spirit, and making students feel more at home and have a more personal or intimate connection with campus and with other future tigers. It stands for Student Tigers Rallying Interacting and Promoting Education and Service.

Take it from someone who heard about STRIPES and said “Ew. That sounds lame.” STRIPES is worth your time. Though I was never a participant at STRIPES, this program has shaped me and changed me more than I can express in 500 words or less. However, this isn’t about me, is it? It’s about you. And how STRIPES can change your life like it changed mine.

S is for spirit.

I don’t necessarily mean cheer camp or fired up spirit. While this program is fun and energetic, it instills a sense of pride for LSU that doesn’t have to be loud and noisy. Whether you’re more introverted or extroverted, there are parts of the program that can show you how sweet it can be to be a tiger.

Just an example, all participants get a little card with the lyrics to the LSU alma mater, and line by line, we sing it together. What a resource. I was mumbling those lyrics for a solid year and a half after football games, and knowing that it said “worth” and not “birth” would have been handy.

T is for tradition.

Did you know that LSU is one of the only universities with a land grant, a sea grant, and a space grant? Did you know that we have the Indian Mounds on campus, a landmark older than the Egyptian pyramids? Did you know that Death Valley started our as a residence hall and somehow was magically converted a football stadium by Governor Huey P. Long?

LSU’s history is full of wild, interesting tidbits, making it a unique university with tons of interesting fun facts. And while I might be a little partial, I think ours are more interesting than any other school in the SEC – two words for you Bama, GEAUX and TIGERS.

But I digress. All of these interesting tidbits are things that I learned from the STRIPES program.

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R is for respect.

There are 30,000 students on this campus and they all come from different walks of life. Aspects of the program focus on getting students to see from the perspectives of others, and to unite the student body. No matter our gender, racial identity, sexuality, political party, or economic class, we’re all tigers. That’s something we can’t forget when starting a new chapter.

I have seen STRIPES give students the pen they needed to keep writing that chapter. Students can leave with a respect not only for their campus, but for the 30,000 beautiful individuals that call it home.

I is for intelligence.

STRIPES works with LSU’s Center for Academic Success and the Olinde Career Center to give students resources to help them succeed for their first semester and beyond. One of my favorites is the Learning Style Preference Assessment, where students are given strategies that are individualized to help them learn to the best to their own ability. Also, students get to see the faces of the workers at those offices, opening doors for them to be unafraid to ask for help.

P is for people.

This is my favorite letter because the people at STRIPES are some of the programs greatest assets. STRIPES has over 60 qualified student leaders that come from every corner of campus. These student leaders take on the role of mentorship for participants, for the program and beyond.

Staff aside, students are put into small groups that go through the program together.   There is something special about watching groups go from painful small talk to camaraderie in four short days. I have no idea how it happens, but somehow I have found every small group I have ever had laughing while eating breakfast without student leaders  having to drive the conversation.

squad being cute

E is for eats.

Okay, honestly maybe this is my favorite letter. STRIPES is catered by some of Baton Rouge’s best restaurants and caterers – they believe and invest in the program and I thank them from the bottom of my heart and stomach. One new part of the program – GEAUXchella – is a Baton Rouge appreciation festival that will bring in restaurants from the Baton Rouge area to show students that Baton Rouge has cool things for students off of campus as well as on campus.

S is for stories.

Before my freshman year of college, I though STRIPES was lame. Let’s blame that on me being uncomfortable at LSU. Stripes showed me that whether LSU was my first choice (which it wasn’t) or at the bottom of my back-ups (which it was), there was something I could find on campus that would not only make me successful on campus, but make me feel like I belonged in the midst of 30,000 terrifying strangers. While this was comforting as a sophomore, it would have been a real life-saver as a freshman.

Thus ends my plea. As a group leader, I have seen this program do amazing things for students. And it’s my firm belief that it can do that for anyone. As a small group leader, I have met so many people and learned their stories, and those stories have pushed me, inspired me, and given me so much confidence that I am in the right place.

If you’re on the fence, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.

 

Happy Mardi Gras!

Meet MattheIMG_4883w Boudreaux, a Junior from Lafayette, LA. Matt is studying Human Resource Education – Leadership and Development. He also serves as the Orientation Team Leader for FOAP 2016, LSU Ambassadors, Greek Ambassadors, Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

What’s that I hear? Sounds like police sirens combined with a marching band but also little hint of Cajun music?!?!….Ohh its must be MARDIS GRAS season! Perhaps one of the holidays looked forward to by most Louisianan’s is officially upon us! During this time you can see a King Cake in every home and office, beads hanging from the electrical lines along the street and everyone rocking a green, yellow and purple Perlis rugby shirt! But how did this little holiday celebrated in the south actually come about?

Mardis Gras, otherwise known as Fat Tuesday, is a celebration of the Christian feast of the Three Kings. This is why we have we have things like King Cake with a plastic baby hidden inside (to represent Jesus Christ). We do everything BIGGER and BETTER in the south so that is why you see miles of parade floats and tons and tons of beads being throw because we just want to celebrate! During a typical Mardis Gras season, the average person will attend local parades in their hometowns and catch up with old friends and family. They will all get together along a parade route, visit, eat together and anxiously await the parade krewe, yes Krewe, to pass in front of them throwing beads, toys, cups and maybe even some more random items. IMG_3794

Perhaps if you are lucky enough, you will even attend a Mardis Gras Ball during the season. A Ball is a formal event put on by the heads of a Mardis Gras Krewe. Everyone who is invited to the Ball gets dressed up in a tux or a formal gown and have one big party! At the beginning, the court of the Ball is presented. This includes the King and Queen, the Maids and Dukes, and even some entertainment from the Court Jester! After that, it is time to party! Fun, dancing and music will carry on until the early hours of the morning for any good Mardi Gras Ball. I was lucky enough to attend my first Ball this past weekend with the Krewe of Olympus in Lafayette, LA! My best friend Megan was a maid of the Krewe and she invited me as her guest! It was truly an awesome experience and I can’t wait to do it all over again this coming weekend with the Krewe of Christopher in Thibodaux, LA!

Some of my favorite memories of the Mardis Gras season were when I was younger and back in my hometown. I lived right along the parade route for my hometown’s parade so I would be woken up by loud music and people every year. All I had to do was throw on my Mardis Gras colors and walk out the front door to join the party. I remember playing in the front yard with my friends and family as people would walk by and we would wait for the parade to get to us. There would always be a smell of gumbo, jambalaya and King Cake in the air and we’d always have the music blaring in the background. Then we would hear the police sirens…that was when the parade was officially here! By the end of the parade, I would have bags and bags of beads (one time even a truck load), enough cups to fill a shelf in the kitchen and also some other fun little prizes. Celebrating with my family and friends every Mardis Gras season is always the highlight.

If you’re not fIMG_3792rom Louisiana and are even the slightest bit interested in this “crazy” celebration…PLEASE book your flight now and head on own to the Boot because we would love to have you and show you what Mardis Gras is all about! And if you are from the great state of Louisiana, I can’t wait to see you walking the streets and yelling, “HEY THROW ME SOMETHING MISTER!”

 

Tigers come home for the holidays

Meet Wfambam2aite Reeves. He is a sophomore from Lafayette, Louisiana and is majoring in Marketing with a Concentration in sales and a minor in Psychology. Waite is involved with LSU Ambassadors and served as an Orientation Leader for University College: Center for Advising and Counseling this past summer.

As the semester draws to an end and finals are approaching, I find myself looking forward to the holidays so much more than before. Coming to LSU was never my first choice, but when I came to campus I realized that there was no better place for me out there. The atmosphere on campus really does make LSU feel like a home away from home, which is so great because it helps for a good transition for freshman but can also make traveling home that much more difficult. The newly discovered sense of freedom that accompanies becoming a college student is something to take advantage of and get caught up in. Personally, I wanted to get so involved on campus that going home was just an afterthought because I had school throughout the week and events almost every weekend. I didn’t realize it then because I was fambam3having the time of my life getting to know campus and the fantastic people that I’d met, but going home was something that I NEEDED to do.

Between school, work, and LSU Ambassadors, this semester has been one of the roughest for me yet. In between planning out every second of every day, multiple breakdowns/spiritual awakenings, and just the uncertainty of college, my family was one thing that always remained constant. I never realized just how fantastic having such a great support system that was removed from my immediate college experience could be. With that being said, every student comes to this conclusion at a different time in their lives, whether it’s two weeks after moving out or four semesters into their college career. This in no way means that your students don’t want to come home and spend time with you. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; we want to come home just as much as you want us there. Going home practically becomes a vacation once you’re in college because it gives you a break from the stress of school and provides ton of relaxation time.

fambamSome of the best advice that I can offer to parents and students is to just be understanding and keep an open line of communication with each other. So much gets lost in translation, and the separation after eighteen years of living under the same roof can seem like too much to handle. But don’t fret! Feel free to talk to your students as much as you want, but don’t forget to give them their space too because college is such a growing experience. When the holidays come around, make sure to make time to spend as a family, but also leave some room for visiting old friends from home and just allow everyone to indulge in a little bit of R&R.

 

Tigers Road to Victory

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I am a junior biology major and football enthusiast who enjoys music, meeting new people, and the south. I am also a member of Phi Mu sorority, LSU Ambassadors, and Co-Chair of Relay For Life of LSU. 

Like many LSU students, I have been rooting for the tigers since I was just a little kid. In fact, my first word was probably “LSU.” There’s nothing quite as exciting as a Saturday night in Death Valley, or so I thought. When I found out the tigers would be playing in Houston, Texas for the opening game of the 2014 season against Wisconsin, I knew I had to take the four hour drive to cheer on my team.

It is safe to say that Baton Rouge took over Houston this weekend, as LSU fans were everywhere, clearly outnumbering Wisconsin fans. When we arrived at Reliant Stadium Saturday afternoon, the tailgating was a little different than the usual sea of purple and gold tents I’ve come to expect on Saturdays, but we made the most of it. I was so anxious; an 8:10 pm kickoff time seemed like an eternity away.10645106_10203629835499674_8537683475902582421_n

          Finally the moment I had been waiting for since December had arrived. LSU fans were in their usual high spirits and positivity as the game began. Wisconsin quickly took the lead, and continued to increase it to 24-7 at the beginning of the third quarter. All hope seemed lost. But if I have learned one thing being a tiger fan all of these years, it is to never give up on the tigers, and especially on the mad hatter, Les Miles. The comeback was one of the most thrilling experiences of my life. After the game the air was filled with chants of “Geaux Tigers” and people in red shaking their head in disbelief. My first away game was definitely one for the books and I can’t wait to experience another one.

Mardi Gras: Louisiana’s Favorite Holiday

ImageMeet Justin Daws, a sophomore majoring Human Resources and Leadership Development from New Orleans, LA. Justin is a student assistant for Parent & Family Programs and is here to tell you a little about Louisiana’s favorite holiday, Mardi Gras!

As a New Orleans resident, Carnival Season and Mardi Gras are unlike any other. The emotions, festivities, and spirit of the season carry throughout the city like wildfire causing hundreds upon hundreds to anticipate the return of our yearly event. In New Orleans, Carnival is all we know, and we know it well. Everything we do or believe in consists around the season ranging from our favorite color scheme of purple, green, and gold to our masquerade balls that people spend hundreds of dollars on to be the most extravagant.

In New Orleans, we have a massive month to two month-long celebration called Carnival which leads up to the final day of celebration known as Mardi Gras, or as natives refer to the day as “Fat Tuesday.” Carnival starts the day after All Kings Day on January 6th. The season consists of endless masquerade balls, parades, parties, and king cakes. All of these events are a must; however, as a first timer coming to the city it is a must to enjoy the King Cake. King Cakes are circular yeasted cakes spiced with cinnamon and filled with various fillings or traditionally plan.

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Justin at a Mardi Gras Ball in New Orleans

 As Carnival season persists and gets closer and closer to the big event, Mardi Gras, the parades start rolling approximately two weeks before. The number of parades that roll throughout the city of New Orleans is countless, not including the various parades around the state. Most people assume that only New Orleans partakes in celebration; however, that is false. Nearly the entire state of Louisiana celebrates the majestic celebration of Carnival and Mardi Gras. To find out more about the festivities in Baton Rouge, check out the city’s Mardi Gras guide at http://www.visitbatonrouge.com/mardigras/.  

Finally, once you have celebrated and marveled in the majestic nature of Carnival, we get to celebrate the big day, Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is a one day celebration where the entire city watches as the Krewe of Rex and Zulu take the streets of New Orleans and bring the celebration to a close. One fun fact about the Krewe of Rex is that the man dubbed King Rex is given the key to the city of New Orleans and officially takes on responsibility of the city for one entire day.

As the events roll on around me, my mere excitement can not be contained. Mardi Gras is dear to my heart, and I actually had the honor of being a Royal Prince of a parade on Mardi Gras day in 8th grade. My heart belongs to the city of New Orleans, and you can always catch me screaming “Throw Me Something Mister” as the floats roll by or dancing alongside the bands as they march through the streets of New Orleans playing the most upbeat Jazz and Zydeco music you will ever find. I suggest everyone who has never experienced the tradition to drive on down to the city if possible or at least head out to a local parade in the Baton Rouge area just so you can say you got a taste of Mardi Gras.

 “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

   Let the Good Times Roll!