Care Package IdeasCare Package Ideas

Everyone likes to be surprised by an unexpected gift, especially grandchildren in college or serving in the military. Or perhaps you have an older relative who’s settling in to an assisted living community. You can show your love by sending them a “care package” filled with goodies that are chosen specifically for them. You can spend a little or a lot.

The key to making a care package really special is the thoughtfulness you put into it. Think about the recipient’s likes and dislikes. Consider their hobbies and interests. Do they like jigsaw puzzles? Are their favorite snacks salty or sweet? Do they have lots of free time or none? Part of the fun is digging through the packing and finding different surprises.

How to Ship a Care Package

Shipping can cost more than the contents, so you want to choose your container carefully. The priority boxes and envelopes from the postal service are free and the postage is fairly reasonable in the USA. Or just find a sturdy cardboard box the right size for your gifts and use packing tape to seal it. Also, it’s important to use packing material and send things that are not too fragile. It’s sad if you bake a dozen cookies and they receive a pound of cookie crumbs.

Speaking of cookies, soft ones like brownies, bar cookies, peanut butter cookies seem to ship better. Be sure to pack them to completely fill a rigid plastic container and seal them tightly to preserve freshness and shape.

What to Include in your Care Package

Now that you have the shipping container, you can use your imagination and thoughtfulness to fill it with goodies. Shop the dollar stores, drug store, and the grocery store for ideas.

  • an inexpensive scarf or a colorful baseball cap
  • a book of crossword puzzles, word search or other puzzles (large print, if necessary) at the correct level of difficulty with a fun pencil
  • teabags of exotic blends with packets of sugar or sweetener
  • sticky notepads, colorful paper clips, rubber bands, stickers
  • a string of lollipops
  • a small sewing kit
  • toiletries: disposable razors, a comb, flavored lip balm
  • microwave popcorn or candy that will hold up in shipping like jelly beans, gummy bears, malted milk balls or boxed candy like they have at the movies
  • a DVD of a favorite movie or a CD of their kind of music
  • a gift card to a favorite store or restaurant (these can be as little as $5.00)
  • baked goods
  • a small seasonal decoration to hang in the window or on the doorknob, or a refrigerator magnet
  • small hand sanitizer gel, small scented soaps
  • thong sandals or flip flops
  • a hand towel

Don’t forget the priceless things that cost you nothing:

  • a photo
  • a picture drawn by your grandkids
  • a recipe

Watch out for some things that seem like a good idea but can really add to the weight of the package. Any liquid, gel or paste that is more than four ounces will be costly to send. If your postage budget is tight, you probably won’t want to send these things:

  • shampoo
  • mouthwash
  • large tubes of toothpaste
  • large bars of soap
  • large bottles of multi-vitamins

Examples of some inexpensive but fun care packages

I sent one of my best friends a padded flat-rate envelope containing a DVD of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” microwave popcorn, a box of cinnamon red hots, a long scarf that looked like a feather boa, and a cigarette holder to complete the Audrey Hepburn look. I could picture her watching our favorite movie with the scarf around her neck and her sunglasses on her head.

My mother loves crossword puzzles and she is good at them, so I keep an eye out for crossword books. I include a few fresh pencils with erasers. She doesn’t like sweets, but some pretzels are welcome. I put in a lip balm and a seasonal decoration. I round out the package with some tea bags and envelopes of Crystal Light. I pack this in a box using empty, used plastic bags as packing material; they are lightweight and I always have plenty on hand.

Use your imagination and create a care package personalized for someone you love. It will make you both feel good.

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