For many families, holiday traditions can be some of the most important moments of the year. Family gatherings, traditional foods, even the song that plays during dinner each year can all hold extreme significance. Without them, the holidays just don’t feel right.
When someone is away from home during the holidays, nothing can truly take the place of participating in those traditions with loved ones in person. But with a little creativity, you can incorporate holiday traditions into care packages, giving your loved one an important and extra meaningful taste of home.
Turning Holiday Traditions into Care Packages
Tradition: baking or decorating cookies
Holiday baking is definitely a tricky tradition to package and mail, but it can still be done! If there’s a certain cookie your loved one just has to have during the holidays, you can try sending them a batch. Sending baked goods can be a bit tricky (especially overseas), but by following a few tips, you can be successful. You could also send a store-bought (and more shelf-stable) version instead.
If the decorating part is more important than the baking, consider sending store-bought cookies and a few decorating supplies. Look for a large flat cookie (pizzelles are a great option), one or two colors of frosting in a tube and a few festive sprinkles. Your loved one could decorate along with you during a video call or on their own and send photos of their creations.
Bonus: you could also send a gingerbread house kit if that’s a tradition in your family!
Tradition: matching family jammies
We’ve all seen the photos of an entire family decked out in matching PJs on the eve or morning of a holiday. If that is your family, be sure to send your loved one their festive jammies in their holiday care package. This small item can make them feel connected to home in a big way. Encourage them to send you a photo or video chat with you to show them off.
Tradition: tree decorating
One of my favorite holiday traditions is decorating our Christmas tree. We crank up the Christmas music, pull out ALL the ornaments and then spend the next 3 days sweeping up glitter and pine needles.
If your loved one can’t be there physically, consider sending them a mini (fake) tree they can decorate with you over a video call. Make sure to schedule your tree decorating at a time that works for both of you. In the care package, you could send other items that are part of your family tradition: music, hot chocolate mix or even replica ornaments. Little ones could also craft ornaments for them to add to the tree for an extra taste of home.
Bonus: you could also use this idea for pumpkin carving during Halloween!
Tradition: family gathering
My husband’s family does most things big and family gatherings at the holidays are not an exception. When he’s deployed during the holidays, I think those gatherings are what he misses the most. While nothing replaces the feeling of being there in person, a well-timed phone or video call can be a great middle ground.
If they have access to something that allows a lot of individual video feeds (like Zoom), you could re-create this large family gathering for other special occasions, like a birthday.
Make sure your loved one knows the timeline for the gathering so they can avoid calling right as everyone sits down to dinner or in the middle of arrivals. If they aren’t able to call or speak to everyone, take the opportunity to record video messages from family members to send to your loved one later.
Tradition: opening presents together
For me, one of the best parts of Christmas is seeing the joy on my family members’ faces when they open the perfect gift. You can still recreate that moment if your loved one is away from home thanks to video chats! Have them wait to open any gifts you sent until you can do it together.
This works for birthdays as well as Christmas and is a nice way to be part of the moment together. With little ones, it may be easier to set aside one or two presents for them to open with your loved one, rather than waiting on all of them.
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.