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How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

Have you ever wanted to send a care package to someone but didn’t know where to begin? A care package is a perfect way to show your love to someone far away, but it can be overwhelming if you’ve never made one before!

If you are lost when it comes to care packages or find them overwhelming to create, you’ll find the solutions in this article, as it will break down how to send a care package, the correct shipping instructions, the different types that you can make, and more! 

It’s important to understand what a care package is and who usually gets them so that you’ll know what to send.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another. – John 13:34-35 (NIV)

This article will take you on a step-by-step journey through the process, sparking your creativity and providing you with essential information so that you can send the perfect care package! 

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What is a Care Package?

A care package is full of useful items, such as toiletries, stationery, or other clothing items, and enjoyable things, like gift cards, toys, or luxury bath products, that are given as a gift to someone who is far away. 

A care package is usually a thoughtful gift created for someone by combining items they possibly need or want, such as their favorite music, movies, or candies. 

According to Time Traveler, the term care package was first used in 1962 to describe a charity parcel that was sent to Europeans in need at the end of World War II. This was a way to show care and love to those who needed it during a difficult time. Care packages still often have this purpose.

How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

What is the Difference Between a Care Package and a Gift Basket?

A gift basket tends to focus on one central theme or gift items, such as wine, fruit, or chocolate. Often, a gift basket is not as personalized as a care package since it doesn’t contain items that the recipient prefers. 

A care package, on the other hand, shows care, love, and respect as items are usually hand-picked.

Gift baskets are ideal for work colleagues, clients, new neighbors, and teachers. Since care packages are highly personalized, they are great for family and friends. You can also reach out to those you don’t know, such as those in the military or in prison, to offer support.

Related: How to Start Writing Letters to Soldiers Overseas

Who to Send Care Packages To

Often, when we think of care packages, our minds turn to soldiers overseas! While they are definitely some of the key people that need the love and encouragement that care packages can bring, there are many other types that you can make!

For example, those who are away at college or serving time in jail love to receive mail! You can also send care packages to someone sick or in the hospital. You can even provide care packages in celebration of certain holidays or events, such as weddings or the birth of a new baby

The possibilities are really endless! 

Related: How to Write a Letter of Encouragement to a Prisoner

What to Include in a Care Package

The items you include in a care package will depend on who you are sending it to. The circumstances surrounding the intent of the care package will also impact what you send to the person. 

For example, care packages can be created for loved ones serving in the military, but the guidelines provided by Customs may affect what you send. 

Another example would be the care packages prepared for those in jail. What you send will depend on the rules of their incarceration. Care packages can also be sent to college students or new mothers

The intent of a care package should be to send personalized items that are useful or needed but also enjoyable. Include a book from their favorite author or a collection of music from their favorite artist. Don’t forget to include delicious treats, such as their favorite candy or chips!

Needed items might include sunscreen for military personnel or stationery for college students; it just depends on who you are sending the package to.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. – Romans 12:10 (NIV)

How to Create a Care Package 

It is easy to go overboard when creating a care package! However, there are inexpensive ways to make an awesome care package for someone special.

Remember to keep the recipient and their specific circumstances in mind when creating your care package, and you’ll make the person feel remembered and special!

Here are a few tips to help you as you create a care package!

Keep a Budget

When creating a care package, set a reasonable budget that will allow you to send what you need to without breaking the bank. You don’t want to buy high-priced items when you start, only to find yourself with not enough money to finish your project! 

Remember to include packaging materials, shipping supplies, decorations, and other shipping costs in your budget!

Include a Note

A great way to start a care package is with a personal note or card. It is a simple and inexpensive way to express your thoughts, feelings, and intentions, and it will surely make the recipient smile upon opening the package! 

Related: How to Encourage Someone (100 Ways)

How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

Consider the Person

Always keep your recipient in mind as you are creating a care package. If possible, consider their likes and dislikes. For example, sending pink items to a new mom of a baby girl may not be appropriate; she may not like the color. Consider sending gender-neutral colors like reds and greens instead. 

You might want to include something that relates to a personal moment or inside joke! If there is a particular show that you loved to watch together or a funny memory from a concert you went to, find a nice item that relates to that.

Remember the Circumstances

Sending hearts and flowers to a friend suffering a loss is usually inappropriate, so be sure to remember the reason you are sending the care package. As you think about the gifts that you will include, remember what they are going through.

Plan Ahead 

You have much more creative freedom if you are delivering the package in person!

However, if you are sending the package via mail, you need to consider mailing rules and regulations. For example, if the package is being shipped overseas, you need to make sure you have a list of non-allowed items. Ensure that breakable items are securely packaged and don’t include items that might be ruined while being shipped. 

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. – 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV)

How to Shop for Your Care Package

As mentioned, it’s important that you consider your budget when shopping for your care package. While you want each item to be valuable and special to the intended recipient, you do not need to spend a large amount of money. You might find some useful items at the dollar store.

Be sure to take the time to consider a variety of aspects when shopping for your care package. 

Here are a few questions you might ask yourself:

  • What are their favorite stores, brands, and scents? 
  • Do they have any particular likes and dislikes?
  • What items might they appreciate the most? 

Consider Your Time Frame

While highly personalized and custom-made packages are always wonderfully thoughtful, consider how much time you have. DIY projects take time. If you’re shipping the package, you need to consider the shipping time. You don’t want to pay for an item to ship only to find out that it never arrived on time!

Balance the Care Package Out

Plan your shopping. If you want to add expensive personal items, maybe only choose a few key things. Use the remainder of your funds to choose gifts that are simple yet thoughtful. 

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

How to Decorate Your Care Package

If you have the time and creative talents, you might want to decorate your care package. It makes it more personal that way!

When deciding how to decorate your care package, you might want to pick a theme to keep it simple. There is no reason to go overboard. Hobbies or things like favorite sports teams and foods make great themes for care packages! 

Think about the occasion when you decide to decorate. You could use the theme of love or silver or gold for weddings, for example. If you are sending a care package for a holiday, go wild with colors appropriate for that time! Your options are endless!

How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

How to Decorate the Box

A simple and easy idea is to decorate the inside of the box

First, cut the box open and lay it flat. Then, decorate the inside of the box. Next, you can fold the box up and tape it back together securely. Finally, carefully place the gift items inside.

Etsy currently lists over 400 styles of care package flaps that you can order! They have numerous themes and designs that make decorating easy. 

Keep the decorating stress-free and simple; have fun with it! Use colorful contact paper and stickers to give the care package a more personal touch. Depending on who you are creating the care package for, you might want to include your children when you decorate the box.

Other cute ideas include gluing pictures, keepsakes, or handwritten notes to the flaps of the box. You can add colorful tissue paper as a filler, as well as balloons, ribbons, and artificial flowers!

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. – 1 Peter 4:9 (NKJV)

Related: How to Write a Soldier a Letter of Encouragement

What to Include In a “DIY Project” Care Package

If you are sending a box to a creative person, consider a DIY care package. A DIY care package includes gifts that encourage the recipient’s creativity

Think about the recipient of your care package to determine if a DIY project is something they would appreciate! Do they have the time and creativity for such a project? Would they enjoy doing it?

A simple starting point for this package is a journal and pen. Paints, watercolors, and oil pastels are awesome ideas for artistic loved ones! Woodcrafts are also a great idea; consider Christmas ornaments or a DIY birdhouse for easy projects!

If your recipient likes to do needlework like knitting or crocheting, include some yarn, patterns, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and accessories. They might be able to participate in knitting a hat for charity or crocheting a blanket for an animal shelter

You could even create a DIY spa night or a starter herb garden. Depending on whether you are delivering or shipping your care package, you could even look at DIY sushi or fondue kits!

Allow your creativity to roam as you create a personalized DIY gift – something that they might be able to use over and over again! Have fun with it, but always keep your recipient in mind!

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

Related: How to Help Sick Infants with Threads of Love

Awesome Ideas For Your Next Care Package

There are endless ideas when it comes to the care package you are creating! In fact, provided you remember your budget and purpose, you can let your creativity go wild! 

Idea #1: Remind Them to Enjoy Every Moment

If you have a child or loved one off at college or camp, encourage them to enjoy every moment with a care package focused on creating memories. Some ideas of things you could include are a disposable camera, journals, pens, a t-shirt or canvas bag for friends to sign, and little items to give to their new best friends!

Idea #2: Think of Other Family Members

If you have a family with multiple children and are sending a new birth care package, think about the older siblings! They often feel left out and lost in this transitional phase as the new baby takes up so much of the mother’s attention!

Include items like coloring books, crayons, playing or collectible cards, watercolor paints, a jump rope, indoor toys, books, and even some snacks or treats! They will feel so special!

Idea #3: Spoil Your Recipient 

A friend you love, a daughter in college, or your mother on her birthday will all appreciate a care package that spoils them! Think about an at-home spa treatment with items like bath bombs, face masks, lotions, new pajamas, and fuzzy socks! You could even include some herbal tea or instant cappuccino!

What to Send In ANY Care Package 

There are some items that are great in almost any care package. For example, you could include a variety of toiletries, such as lotion, body wash, nail files, or even a bubble bath! If your care package is for a male, you might want to add some cologne, sunscreen, playing cards, or candy!

Clothing items like pajamas are fun and useful! Include gift cards to local stores and coffee shops, if appropriate. Also, gift cards to Spotify or other streaming services are usually welcome!

How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

What NOT to Send In a Care Package

Remember any specific guidelines when creating your care package. Think about your recipient’s allergens if you know them. If you are unsure, just avoid highly allergenic items, such as peanuts and harsh scents.

Avoid items that could be construed as insensitive, racist, or otherwise offensive.

There are also guidelines when it comes to mailing packages. Alcohol, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and lithium-ion batteries are all restricted shipping items. Nail polish, perfume, and matches are further restricted items via air transport. 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. – Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

How to Mail and Ship a Care Package

You’ll have more creative freedom and fewer restrictions if you’re personally delivering the care package. However, many circumstances will require you to mail or ship your care package.

Take any necessary precautions when sending packages with breakable items. Wrap the goodies in bubble wrap to limit the movement of the gift items.

Don’t forget the restrictions on food items. Non-perishable, prepackaged foods are best; however, if you are posting within the United States or overnight, put your homemade goodies in sealed containers! 

Ensure that you are adhering to United States Postal Service Shipping rules as well as any shipping rules in the country where your loved one is located. Find detailed instructions for domestic shipping on the USPS website

How to Ship Overseas

The USPS is currently under restrictions due to COVID-19 regulations. Certain countries are not accepting incoming mail. Read more on these guidelines before shipping your care package at the Post Office.

Once you have ensured that all items you plan to ship are allowed within both the U.S. and your destination country, there are a few more steps you must follow. 

Step One: Check the Size and Weight

Check that the dimensions and weight of your package are within the necessary standards. Customs usually use automated processing equipment. If your parcel cannot fit in this equipment, it will be considered “nonmachinable,” and it may cost you more to ship. Read more about these requirements to ensure you are following the standards.

Step Two: Verify the Address

Foreign addresses may have different requirements than those in the U.S. Always verify that the address you are using is written correctly. Make sure you print the return address and shipping address clearly and in the correct places. Read more about how to correctly format foreign addresses.

Here are a couple of regulations that you should follow. Don’t include city or country names in certain (APO/FPO/DPO) shipping addresses. This will ensure that the package doesn’t enter foreign mailing systems.  Where applicable, include the unit and box numbers for APO/FPO/DPO shipping addresses.

Step Three: Select a Shipping Service

There are many factors to consider when selecting the appropriate shipping service for your care package. The contents, destination, dimensions, and tracking options are just a few of them. You can find all the necessary information to guide you on the USPS website. 

How to Fill Out Customs Forms

You will be required to fill out a customs form when shipping packages internationally. You can find these forms online. If you are unsure of how to fill out these forms, watch this tutorial

Of course, there are separate guidelines for military and diplomatic mail.

How to Calculate Packaging Costs

Applying the correct postage can help to ensure that your package reaches its destination on time. Postage is determined by weight, dimensions, mail class, and the packaging label. Calculate your postage costs online before sending your care package.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Related: How to Send Encouraging Words for Someone in Prison

How to Send a Care Package | Your Complete Guide

Different Types of Care Packages and What to Include

You can create a variety of care packages, but each may vary depending on who you are sending it to and why. Here are a few unique ideas for each type of package!

Military Care Packages

Some of the most common care packages are for our military personnel. They place their lives on the line for our freedom, spending much time away from home. 

A care package is a lovely way to recognize their service, provide them with a taste of home, and show them your appreciation!

If you are excited to show support to our troops but do not know any personally, send a care package through Operation Gratitude! Operation Gratitude graciously sends care packages to our soldiers all over the world! 

With this care package, you could start by writing a letter to a soldier! Receiving letters of encouragement boosts morale and shares love

Necessities are always a welcome addition to military care packages. Items such as sunscreen, socks, and lip balm are great ideas to help make a soldier’s day more comfortable!

Snacks such as chips, candy, cookies, and beef jerky are all approved items to ship. Make sure the candy doesn’t melt. Also, home-baked goodies are among the favorites for troops.

Entertainment is also welcome. Books, crossword puzzles, and magazines help to keep their minds active and off their current surroundings!

Photos are often a good idea, as troops love learning about the volunteers who write to them. 

Related: How to Find the Right Volunteer Opportunity

How To Send Care Packages to the Military 

The USPS has a flat rate box. These boxes give you a flat rate based on the dimensions of the box, regardless of the weight. These are ideal for military postage, as they ship to all FPO/APO addresses (military service member addresses).

You can find large flat rate boxes at all USPS offices, most shipping centers, and online. You could even ask your mail carrier!

USPS provides free military shipping kits. You can order free FPO/APO priority mail large boxes and have them delivered to your door. Also, you can organize free parcel collections for these packages. You can easily learn more about these USPS services and guidelines for military packages.

ShipBob provides more details on obtaining the correct address as well as what cannot be shipped

Companies That Ship to Military Addresses

It is important to note that only the USPS is authorized to ship to FPO/APO addresses. Other companies like FedEx ship to countries where there is a large U.S. military presence but not to the bases directly. 

The following companies ship directly to FPO/APO addresses through the USPS. 

  1. Amazon
  2. Walmart
  3. Etsy
  4. BestBuy
  5. Newegg
  6. Target

Dos And Don’ts of Military Care Packages

All domestic shipping rules and regulations apply to military care packages. Don’t forget about the temperature and climate of the regions where the package will travel, as well as the destination. Many items don’t do well in extreme temperatures!

In addition to the usual shipping restrictions, such as no alcohol, tobacco products, matches, perfume, or guns, the military has further restrictions

Items including GPS hardware/software, mobile phones, cordless phones, obscene articles, and pork byproducts are included on the list of restricted items

College Student Care Packages

A care package is a perfect idea for a college student away from home for the first time! 

Personal items from home such as a favorite baked good, family photos, ground coffee from a local coffee shop, or even the local newspaper are sweet gestures.

College students are always in need of stationery, highlighters, sticky notes, and notecards. You can also send gift cards to coffee houses or restaurants. Food items like microwaveable oatmeal, popcorn, and granola/protein bars are also awesome ideas for the dorm room! 

You can also send hygiene items, such as face masks, body wash, shampoo, and deodorant if you package them carefully. Additionally, clothes that are simple and comfortable, like t-shirts, hoodies, and pajamas, are always welcome!

Add in some stress-relief items like a stress ball, fidget spinner, or a relaxing candle to help with test anxiety. Don’t forget a scrapbook and camera if your student loves keeping memories!

Inmate Care Packages

It’s important to understand what is and isn’t allowed if you are sending a care package to your loved one who is incarcerated. The most sought-after items for those in jail are letters! Help them stay connected to home by writing to them often.

Mail provides inmates with wonderful encouragement! A letter of encouragement can truly make a positive change in someone’s life! Don’t be shy to share your faith through encouraging words also!

Money is the next best option. Adding to their commissary funds gives prisoners the ability to purchase necessities and treat themselves to goodies! 

Other items that could be sent in a care package are photos, books, magazines, and cards.

If you want to send a more traditional care package, such as a food care package, there are approved companies that are allowed to deliver to inmates. Inmate Care Package offers a variety of treats, books, and magazines. 

My Care Pack and iCare Gifting Services also provide care package services to inmates. 

Related: How to Write a Letter to Someone in Jail

Care Packages for the Sick

We often feel helpless when we are sick. A care package can provide essentials in helping someone recover while reminding them they are loved.

Some things may make them feel better! Cold and flu medication and cough drops are usually welcome additions to a care package. A new mug, tea, and instant soup can cheer a sick loved one up.

Other items to include are a thermometer, disinfecting wipes, tissues, hand sanitizer, a good book, socks, and slippers. Be empathetic and think about how you would like to be treated when you are sick!

Related: How to Encourage Someone (100 Easy Ways)

Sympathy Care Packages

When a loved one is suffering a loss, it can be a difficult time for all involved. A care package can go that extra mile in showing the family your condolences while respecting their need for space and time to heal.

A grocery care package can be exceptionally helpful. Often, basic chores get pushed aside. Things such as grocery shopping can feel overwhelming. 

Basic cleaning materials such as wipes, toilet paper, and paper towels can aid the family in the day-to-day chores. You might even offer to help them out with their household duties!

A spa care package can give your loved one the much-needed self-care they are lacking, while a child’s sympathy package, including new toys and books, can go a long way in lifting spirits!

Related: How to Encourage Someone (What You Need to Know)

Thinking of You Care Packages

Sometimes you may just want to send a care package that acts like a hug! You simply wish to tell a loved one that you are thinking of them. 

Gifts in these care packages can include spa items, favorite candies, and even gift cards. The themes can be varied and creative, such as “Sending You Sunshine,” “Snack Box,” and “You are Beautiful.” 

Thinking of You care packages should be highly personalized and considerate of the individual. There are many ideas for your care package, but the bottom line is to make it encouraging. Read more about how to encourage someone

Other Care Packages

There are few limitations to why and when you can send a care package. Some ideas may even include the celebration of a new baby, an engagement, or a promotion.

Other times may be in celebration of a favorite holiday, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Whatever the special occasion, a care package can be a fun surprise for anyone!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

Related: How to Volunteer and Be an Elf all Year


You now know what a care package is, how to make and decorate a care package, how to send a care package, the different types, and ideas for what to include in your awesome care package!

Are you excited to surprise your loved ones by sending care packages? Do you have your own ideas on how to create care packages? Hopefully, you now have the inspiration you need to let your creative juices go wild as you create the perfect care package!

Were there any occasions for care packages that were left out? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

Have you ever sent a care package? Share your photos

Also, don’t forget to share this article on social media!

Enjoy a free copy of the volunteer log in my shop!

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