Monday, December 1, 2014

How to send a care package that actually shows you care

You might think sending a care package is only about compiling a bunch of things you think the recipient would like into one box, but as a lifestyle blogger I'm here to make it complicated.

The thing is, I kind of consider myself to be an expert on care packages (it's all I have, okay), and in my expert opinion, creating a good care package is basically a science.

First, you need to pick who of your friends and family actually deserves a care package (or you know, who lives far away enough to warrant one). I only send care packages to my long-distance best friend as an attempt to buy her love and make sure she doesn't forget me.

Next, you pick the goodies. I try to give Crystal goodies as awesome as she is, which takes some brainstorming.

Obviously, the items included will depend on the recipient, so no, I'm not suggesting you go out and buy all these things for your next care package. Stop being so damn literal. (Kidding, love you.)

But what I do recommend is remembering this sacred formula:

25% Real Gifts + 50% Fun but Useful Gifts + 25% Oh-My-God-These-Are-So-Useless-but-So-Adorable Gifts.  

[Real Gifts= the gifts you'd give on their own if you didn't commit yourself to a care package. 
Fun but Useful Gifts= the cheap gifts you know they'll use that keep the care package interesting.
Oh-My-God-These-Are-So-Useless-but-So-Adorable Gifts= the shit they didn't even know they needed.

Are you thinking the 'real gifts' should make up the majority of the package? Yeah, I was playing around with that too, but to me, the best care packages are a wide assortment of goodies, and typically the kinds of gifts I'd give on their own also cost the most, which would quickly blow the budget.

Keeping the majority of items to fun, useful and inexpensive allows you to get creative and provide something they'll enjoy while also not breaking the bank.

To send my best friend, I settled on:

The real gifts:
1. The hand-made friendship bracelet. Because now that we're a long-distance friendship, other would-be BFFs need to be informed she's taken.
2. The feminist t-shirt. Because she mentioned wanting one with that same message.
3. The Tarte Skintuitive lip tint. Because it's like Puppy Surprise for adults. Will it make your lips bright pink, soft pink or have no discernible effect (i.e. the equivalent of the puppy with only three pups)? IT'S A DELIGHTFUL MYSTERY.

The fun but useful gifts:
1. The ice bag. Because she's really into exercise and has to get sore sometimes, right?
2. The hair ties and head bands. Because she, uh, puts her hair up sometimes and, hello, they're cute and sparkly.
3. The Hello Kitty magnets. Because everyone needs more magnets on their fridge and she loves Hello Kitty.
4. The stationery from Papyrus. Because bloggers are supposed to love stationery and I just want her to fit in.
5. The treats from Trader Joe's. Because everyone loses their shit for Trader Joe's.

The useless, but oh-so-adorable gifts:
1. The Hello Kitty jump rope. Because it was in the dollar aisle.
2. The sprinkle nail polish. Because it's adorable, but who really has time for that shit?

Did my arbitrarily chosen scientific formula work out? Uh, yeah, let's just say it did. But since you won't be sending these exact things, my general tips for filling a care package are:

--Give yourself some time to create the package. Care packages are fun because they're a medley of items, but they can add up quickly if you're buying everything at once. I sent this as a Christmas gift (and by Christmas, I really mean special January gift) and it took me more than a few months to finish because I wanted to budget buying what was inside. You also want to give yourself time so you're not filling it with completely random crap just because you're in rush to get it out by a certain date.

--Don't spend more than $5 on anything you know they won't actually use or you're only buying because it's cute. Just say no to Papyrus' section of adorably overpriced office-related goods. It's not worth it.

--Hit up Target's dollar aisle and TJ Maxx to find fun, but cheap items.

--Send care packages sparingly--unless you're Ms. Moneybags or something, in which case send them for every holiday, including Arbor Day. This way, you can make them thoughtful and spend a little more on them.

--Always include a card. You might as well send an anonymous gift otherwise.

--Include a variety of items, even you have a theme, so it's like a NEW and EXCITING surprise with each item they reach for.

And for the cherry on top?

I didn't actually pack anything that needed to be delicately wrapped, so take this suggestion with a grain of salt, but my new favorite thing is to use fake flowers in the place of packing peanuts as a cheery, little surprise.

You can get really cheap fake flowers in the clearance section at Michael's, or you can, like me, be taken in by the fake daisies (which never seem to be on clearance) and get a bunch of those. The point is, you shouldn't spend very much at all on the flowers because they will probably be thrown away by the recipient fairly quickly unless they're crafty or something and were desperately in need of fake flower heads.

I think they're a fun touch, but you can think it's stupid if you want.

It'd be preferable if you got a box that is more to the size of the number of items inside it, but my local Walgreens only believes in too big and too small. You could also individually wrap all the items inside in oh-so-cute wrapping paper, but I mean, I don't care that much*

*Just kidding, Crystal, don't kill me.


  1. Aww, the fake flower heads make it look so cheerful! When I sent packages home from Korea, I think I literally just used some rags in one for packing peanuts. I suck so hard at care package presentation.

  2. I love your formula and that even though you try and talk all though you are totally all about sending me care packages like daddy warbucks. DON'T DENY IT. Literally, your care packages are the stuff of magical sparkles and rainbows and I am stealing the flowers to use in one that I send back because duh. Anyone who follows this formula is FREAKING GOLDEN.

  3. I love the flowers! That's such a great and colorful touch. I'm going to remember that tip FOR SURE the next time I send a package!

  4. Haha, when I was overseas, I don't think I sent anything to anyone beyond postcards, so good for you. And honestly, despite this post, I don't think anyone really cares how you package it. (I know, this post is shot now).

  5. Hahah, please do use the flowers. I got way too carried away one time and spent a stupid amount.

  6. Sure wish I could get a care package!

    Your Mom

  7. This is an amazing care package. Your best friend is lucky to have you!

  8. Guess you'll have to move several hundred miles away!