Care packages are straight-up expensive.
It doesn’t matter how you cut it, buying the stuff and sending it cost a lot, especially if you send boxes frequently. It was something that totally smacked me in the face (hellooooo emotional spending!) and when I totaled what I spent over the course of a year deployment, I was pretty gobsmacked.
I’ve written about how to cut corners and save money without degrading the quality of the care package. (It is possible!) But there is something else you can do. Make the stuff– all of it–inside the box matter.
When John was deployed to Afghanistan, I found myself playing a game of Care Package Tetris, figuring out how to fit the most stuff in the box. (After all, if you’re sending Priority, if it fits, it ships! So it pays you to cram as much in as possible.
But usually there’s still space. You could just cram paper or packing peanuts in there, but that’s basically paying to ship garbage since your honey will most likely toss it upon opening. I started doing this when John asked me to start stuffing the edges of the box with plastic shopping bags. They really useful during deployment and he wanted a supply of them.
Here are more fun and/or useful items that can squash into the small spaces so every, single inch is used:
- Bubble wrap
- Inexpensive wrapping paper
- Jumbo-sized marshmallows
- Half-blown up balloons (we don’t want them to pop!)
- Stress balls
- Circus peanuts
- Pom poms
- Cheese puffs
- A t-shirt
- Packaged underwear
- Cotton balls, cotton swabs, facial cleansing pads, etc.
- Only use the comics pages of the newspaper
- Crumpled paper shopping bags
- Rolls of toilet paper
- A new, soft towel
- A sweatshirt or sweatpants
- An inexpensive pillow
- Use a stack of printer paper. Think of a message you want the received to get. Write one word from the message on each paper, then ball up and use as packaging. (You can number the papers to make the puzzle a little easier.) Then include a note to un-wad all the papers to find the secret message.
- Packaged cotton candy
- Easter grass. (This stuff is even biodegradable.)
- Loofahs/sea sponges
- Cereal marshmallows. (Buy them in bulk here.)
- Mr. Clean Dry Erasers
- TastyKakes (or other treats)
- A scarf
- Bagged cereal
- Bags of coffee or tea
- Bagels (No, really. You can send them in the mail! Here’s how.)
- A partially blown up beach ball
- Koosh balls
- A travel pillow
What are your go-to space-eaters in care packages?