Do you find yourself in a situation where you need to buy someone a gift but you’re stumped?
Do you have someone in your life who has everything or they just run out and buy shit and DON’T WAIT FOR GIFT-GIVING OPPORTUNITIES?
Do you have a person in your life who is a human disaster*?
Two words: CARE PACKAGE.
*As a Certified Human Disaster, I feel confident in this recommendation.
CARE PACKAGE 101
Get them stuff they would never get themselves
When I was in college, a HUGE care package arrived for me from my big sister. This care package arrived at a time when I was living off-campus for the first time and therefore was NOT taking very good care of myself.
This gist of this care package was basically, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? HERE.” and it was marvelous. My sister filled a gigantic box filled with the NAME BRAND stuff that I love but would never indulge in purchasing (Puffy Cheetos, Lucky Charms, Sun Drop), these genius laundry sheets that had the detergent inside (because I kept turning entire loads of laundry one color) and wine, because I had just turned 21 and she’s an angel.
LESSON: Sometimes people won’t indulge in silly things (especially if they’re from the Midwest. And also Catholic). So remove the guilt and send it to them.
Can’t go wrong with cute/wacky/silly
I have this delightful friend from high school. You would love her. She is filled with relentless joy and authenticity. Therefore, almost immediately after I told her I was getting divorced, the quirkiest, most heartfelt, delightful care package arrived:
Everything in this package was nothing I needed, but suddenly I couldn’t live without any of it. From the unicorn pencil to the Girl Scouts gum (????) to the little figurine of Millard Fillmore (and by the way, she had NO IDEA I had changed my name to Fillmore), this silly package of joy arrived at the perfect time to remind me that while life is exhausting and unpredictable and difficult, it’s also whimsical and fun and survivable.
LESSON: If you find something silly that you think will make someone smile — BUY IT. That person you thought of probably needs it.
Last October, I had moved out of the home I loved and was given a new place to live. While I will always be overwhelmingly grateful to be given shelter by a loved one, it still was not my home.
Combined with this grief, was the fact that I refused to bring any kitchen stuff with me, because almost all of it was purchased on the day he proposed to me. And even though, as my friend aptly put it, “He didn’t put a ring on it because you chose good plates!!!”, this is what happens when you are uncontrollably sentimental: you wash and re-use a Culver’s cup you saved after you had ice cream for dinner during your first week alone.
No one knew I was doing this (hello, shame), but I still received the most perfect care package soon after moving: coordinated plates, bowls and mugs, and even a few decorative items for the upcoming holidays.
My brother and sister-in-law somehow knew that I needed this new stuff as I started over. They somehow knew that I was consumed with the overwhelming feeling that nothing belonged to me. PLUS they chose the perfect items for someone who was living alone for the first time, and was eventually moving.
LESSON: Sometimes plates are more than plates. Sometimes they are dignity too.
ALWAYS INCLUDE A LETTER
Never, NEVER send naked mail. I do not think I can send ANYTHING without some sort of card or acknowledgement. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or profound, but ALWAYS toss in a little something that explains why you chose these contents of your package or just simply that you are thinking about them. Even if you are sending something through Amazon etc., they give you the option to include a little note. There are SO MANY cute cards and stationery out there. I HIGHLY recommend this artist, who always knows exactly what to say — because sometimes you are sending care packages for difficult situations.
LESSON: Most of the time, the letter is the most prized part of the care package, and it’s something that will endure after the rest of the contents have been lovingly used or consumed.
Know that you did a good job
The absolute coolest thing about receiving a care package is that they are customized to fit the personality of the recipient. So this may mean that this gift is the BEST, MOST THOUGHTFUL GIFT OF ALL TIME. Suck it, singing a ballad outside of her window where you replace words with her name.
This also means that care packages can be elaborate or simple, big or small, sweet or funny or utilitarian — and they will ALWAYS be well received. So, pat yourself on the back, considerate person!
LESSON: YOU make the world better (and you probably have a care package coming your way).