You may not be able to put happiness into a box, but these care package ideas (for college care packages, military care packages, camp care packages, and more) come pretty close.

By Lauren Phillips
August 22, 2018
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Everyone loves receiving a box filled with cool stuff in the mail, but actually coming up with care package ideas is easier said than done. Creating the right gift—whether it’s a college care package, a military care package, a camp care package, or a care package for a sick friend—for someone who is physically far away but still near and dear to your heart can take a little time and effort, but once your loved one or friend opens that box, it will all be worth it.

The key to the perfect care package is striking a balance between reminding recipients of home and offering items that will make them a little bit happier wherever they are. These care package ideas will do just that and, best of all, you can pick and choose what’s most appropriate to send (and within your budget).

Once you’ve made your selections and gathered your supplies, sending an amazing care package is just a matter of tucking everything inside a box (fill it with playful confetti or colorful tissue paper for bonus points) and sending it on its way. You may not be able to put happiness into a box, but these care package ideas come pretty close.

Care Package Idea #1: A Candle

One can never have enough candles, right? The right candle—like the state-specific Homesick Candles (To buy: $30; homesickcandles.com)—can both remind someone of home and improve the aroma of his or her current living space. For college students, flameless scents may be a better pick; consider a travel-sized essential oil diffuser (To buy: YoungLiving USB Orb Diffuser, $35; youngliving.com) instead.

Care Package Idea #2: A Home-Grown Snack

People can buy potato chips or chocolates anywhere. Make your care package special with a treat from your loved one’s hometown, like a box of cookies from the local bakery or the soda brand you can only find at a few area stores.

Care Package Idea #3: Photo Prints

This care package idea is perfect for members of the military, or for those with pint-sized living spaces. Printing a few photos, whether they’re old photos of the two of you or new ones of home, pets, or family members, is affordable and compact—great if you’re shipping a care package overseas. For bonus points, include a small way for them to display the photos front and center, like with this pretty stand. (To buy: Artifact Uprising Cork & Brass Print Stand, $30; artifactuprising.com.)

Care Package Idea #4: Gift Cards

Gift cards may be the blandest of gifts, but that doesn’t make them any less functional—especially for sick friends or family members or those with limited mobility. (Even college students can use these—the right gift card may be the difference between another microwave meal or a more nutritionally sound option.) Consider including gift cards to services such as Uber or Lyft, food delivery companies, cleaning services, and the like.

Care Package Idea #5: Self-Care Items

Everyone deserves a little extra love, though few think to buy self-care products for themselves. Send comforting items such as cozy socks, an elegant robe, a warm throw blanket (or even a weighted blanket), and face masks to remind your loved one to do a little pampering.

Care Package Idea #6: Phone Accessories

Phones are in near-constant use—and their pesky accessories (think chargers, headphones, cases, etc.) always seem to be breaking or disappearing, even if they are dorm room essentials. Replenish your loved one’s supply, and he or she may end up giving you a few extra calls each month. For those who can’t seem to keep their phones charged, consider a powerful portable charger. (To buy: iWalk Scorpion Ultra Slim Power Bank 8000mAh, $50; amazon.com.)

More care package ideas: