Pro Tips for a Holiday Care Package Everyone You Love Will Adore

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Oh my! The holiday season is officially HERE and that means it’s time to get your holiday care packages together, STAT!

But instead of just filling a box with (insert holiday)-themed stuff, curate a collection of thoughtful gifts your loved one will, well, love.

Spending the winter holidays apart is so hard! But many military couples are often stuck in exactly this scenario year after year. Having been through a full holiday season sans my husband, I 100% get this struggle. But you can bring a little winter cheer to your spouse (and yourself!) with a thoughtful, loving care package!

Sending a holiday care package? Use these lovely ideas for a fresh twist. #military #christmas #carepackage #happymail #carepackages

Care packages to a deployed significant other

You could consider including:

  • holiday decor: mini menorah, tiny tree, small kinara or confetti for New Year’s Eve
  • yummy treats: pack the box with gold coins, candy canes, chocolate Santas or your loved one’s fave sweets
  • micro gifts: include small yet thoughtful items that your spouse will love, like extra nice lotion or new socks, but are also appropriate for their current location
  • holiday re-do invite: include a (free to you) card, like this one from Shutterfly, to invite your partner to a do-over holiday celebration when you are together again
  • sentimental pics: stage a mini photoshoot with your kids and/or pets in holiday garb in a fully decorated setting, print and send!

While stuffing a box with holiday joy isn’t quite the same as celebrating in person, it will help make a special day a little less ordinary!

Care packages to parents

It’s 2020 and, of course, the pandemic is going to be impacting the holidays… which could mean that you won’t be spending the holidays with your family far away.

But it’s a great excuse to send a thoughtful care package full to the brim with gifts!

One of my favorite ways to be “together” with my parents when we’re far apart is to send photo books. Here’s what’s going in my care package this year:

  • photo book: I use a website to DIY a photo book of the current year, sharing pictures of my kids and our adventures
  • actual pictures: a framed fave photo of each child
  • paper hug: a hug from each of my kids – trace each child’s hands, attach together with crepe paper, unravel for a “hug”
  • kid-made gift(s): those frames will be hand-painted by each child and there might be a kid-drawn mug or other items in the mix, too
  • local treats: in Virginia, I’m sending peanuts and BBQ sauce; in Okinawa, I sent chinsuko cookies and hibiscus tea

Even before kids arrived, I spent most holidays apart from my parents. During those pre-grandkids seasons, I would send:

  • single subscription box: I love to send Swatara Coffee Co.’s curated cafe boxes for all occasions
  • wine or beer: work with a local winery or brewery you love to ship something quaffable to your parents
  • something local (your place or theirs) and sentimental: like a book by a local author, seeds for a favorite flower, locally crafted coffee or tea

Whatever you send to your parents, the biggest gift might be time virtually spent with you!

Care packages to siblings

Shopping for siblings, especially as you’ve grown older, can get harder and harder. Sometimes it can just feel like exchanging your Amazon wishlists for basics, like kitchen gear or wool dryer balls. Oh, adulthood.

But you can use that wishlist as a jumping off point for cool, upgraded or handcrafted items. Try these fun swaps:

  • new baking sheet:  gourmet baking sheet with silicon liners, ingredients for pizza and a DIY pizza herb growing kit
  • socks: socks, but with your face on them plus some actual lux dress, running, or everyday socks
  • workout gear: gift card to Lululemon or other high-end athletic wear store along with several packs of their fave exercise supplements or post-calorie burning treats
  • books: a gift card to a local independent bookstore plus a travel mug, pretty bookmark, and fuzzy socks for a full day of reading relaxation

The basic idea is to take whatever it is your sibling wants and level it up!

Care packages for nieces, nephews, and other kiddos

Everyone who is a parent probably panic-purchased all the fun toys in March. But now that the holidays are here, you’d like to gift the children in your life fun from a distance. As an experienced long-distance aunt to eight kids, aged 0-14, over the last decade, I’ve got some ideas to help you out. Consider gifting these creative non-toys:

  • Movie Night: send cozy PJs for all the kids, gourmet popcorn, movie candy and your favorite or new release age-appropriate movie
  • Spa Night: kid-friendly face masks, non-toxic nail polish, fun non-alcoholic drinks (think: fancy juice or cocoa), yummy gourmet snacks
  • Adventure Day: gift card to a local attraction or directions to fun kid-friendly outdoor hikes, journals to record their experience, pre-addressed postcards to send back to you, disposable camera to capture the moment, tasty trail snacks
  • Crafty Kids: directions for an age-appropriate craft plus all the supplies with extras so they can send you a finished craft

Holiday Party in a Box

My family has a huge Christmas party every year. All the aunts, uncles, cousins and our kids gather in one house for a major feast, with expansive dessert buffet and present swap. Except that since I’ve been a military spouse I haven’t exactly been able to make it home for that party. I’ve made sure that I’m still “there” in spirit by sending a fun party-in-a-box for everyone to enjoy while I’m on FaceTime.

In our boxes, I include:

  • snacks from wherever we’re stationed or things that are hard to get where my family lives
  • small toys or craft kits for kids
  • inexpensive but quality lotions or beauty items
  • funny gifts for all the adults–when we were in Japan I sent solar-powered dashboard bobbleheads!

Everything gets individually packed by family unit and labeled with their names. It makes it a little simpler to unpack the box(es) as a group.

These boxes have been a huge hit, especially over the last three years when we lived in Japan. My family loved getting a little peek into our lives overseas and trying the unique treats I sent!

Looking For More Care Package Ideas? Try These:

Meg Flanagan is a teacher, blogger and military spouse. She owns Meg Flanagan Education Solutions, an education advocacy service dedicated to serving families on the K-12 journey. You can find Meg on Facebook. Meg is also available as a freelance writer and personal education advocate!

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