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Do you remember when you were a little kid and you came home from school almost every single day with a backpack stuffed full of artwork? Hand turkeys, family portraits, the dog that had 5 legs…ok so perhaps the term “artwork” should be used loosely in regard to your childhood creations. But whether or not you were a little Picasso in the making, you know who freaking LOVED your artwork? Your parents. That hand turkey went on the fridge every single year. That 5-legged dog made its way to your mom’s office and the family portrait is still hanging in the living room.
Part of that is, of course, because you’re their child, but another part is because YOU made it. Things that are handmade suddenly have more significance in our eyes. It’s the reason Etsy is so popular; heck, it’s the reason you shop my care package designs over something mass produced. So if handmade items are so great and carry more meaning than something from Target, why not send them in your care packages?
I know: you think I’ve lost my marbles.
“Rachel, of course I send handmade things in my care package. Who wouldn’t?”
That’s probably what you’re thinking right now, isn’t it? I get it. It’s a natural fit, but not one that every single person has thought of!
Handmade items you can send:
Love notes or open when letters
You didn’t really think I was going to have a list of handmade items to send in a care package and NOT include love letters, did you? I’ve shared over and over again my fondness for a handwritten love note because they are truly the perfect addition to any care package. If you need some help getting started on your love note, check out this post.
Open when letters are another great handmade option. In fact, I may possibly like them even more than love letters. GASP.
But it’s true and here’s why: open when letters allow you to be present for a whole variety of moments your loved one will go through. Missing you, feeling defeated, feeling accomplished, needing a smile…the list goes on and on. You would be there for all of those moments if your loved one was home, so why not take advantage of a way to be there while they’re gone?
You can get super creative with open when letters (I’ve even sent snacks in mine!) and the sky’s truly the limit on the theme possibilities for the envelopes. Get ideas here and here.
Artwork from little ones
Send your loved one the 18th hand turkey your kid has made in the past month. Do it! Maybe send them hand turkeys 2 through 17 as well. That way they can decorate their whole room with them.
Pro tip: have an “artwork for mommy/daddy” folder somewhere easily accessible to your little one. Have them put items in it whenever they want and then send the contents in your regularly scheduled care packages.
Don’t feel limited to only sending artwork from kids; you can send your artwork as well!
Baked goods or trail mix
Baked goods can be a little tricky, but for so many, they’re the perfect way to send something handmade. I’ve not had the world’s greatest luck with sending baked goods, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done!
- Wrap cookies or brownies in plastic wrap and then put them in plastic baggies or plastic food containers.
- Bake any item as close to the shipping time as possible, while still giving them time to cool completely.
- Place a slice of bread in the container with your baked goods: it can help with freshness.
- Don’t send any items that need to be refrigerated, like cream cheese icing.
For more tips and recipe ideas, check this out courtesy of Jo, My Gosh.
If you’re not sure about baked goods, consider something like trail mix! It’s far less likely to get stale during shipping.
I’m an especially big fan of the mini scrapbook idea for handmade goodies because it combines two of my favorite things: photos and handwritten notes. I made one for my husband a few years ago and it could not have been simpler.
I printed a bunch of photos cropped to be 4” by 4”, which as luck would have it, is the same size that an iPhone crops your photos to when you choose the “square” option. I ordered them all from Shutterfly a few weeks before I wanted to send my box. When they arrived, I punched a hole in the upper left corner of each one to connect them all via a ring. You could use ribbon or yarn or just about any other medium you can think of; I chose the metal ring for durability.
Then on the back of each photo, I took a sticky note and wrote a little bit about the photo. Maybe it was what my favorite part of that day had been or why I enjoy doing that activity with him or a reason that I love him that went with the photo. You can get as crafty and wordy here as you want! I put all the photos on the metal ring and was done; it really was super easy and fairly cheap. I maybe spent $10 total on the whole thing, and he loved it so much more than anything I could have purchased.
You could also decorate a store-bought scrapbook, this one from Amazon is really cute! Need a little help getting started with your own mini scrapbook? Try this printable PDF with prompts!
Ok, so technically a photo calendar probably isn’t handmade by you, but even if you order the finished product online you still designed it! This would be so good for a long deployment, but you could also plan to order a weekly one if the separation is shorter. Most online photo printing sites have templates already built for you, but you can choose the photos to fit your preferences. I’ve seen such cute ones where the photos are all of little kids dressed like appropriately for the holiday/season. A baby dressed like a turkey or toddlers dressed in all green for St. Patrick’s Day…come on, that’s care package gold, right there.
If your loved one doesn’t have much need for a calendar, a printed photo collage would be a great alternative. Again, most photo printing sites have templates for you to use, but you could always break out the scissors, glue stick and construction paper and go old school!
What other handmade items can you send in a care package?
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.