What to Put in a Care Package

what to put in a care package

Your friend or family member lives far away, and you want to send them something to cheer them up. Only problem? You have no idea what to put in a care package. Assembling a care package does take some thought and planning, but you’ve already done all the hard work, which is getting to know the recipient. If you need help brainstorming some ideas, or narrowing down all your options, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 17 ideas to help you decide what to put in a care package:

Photos and Frames

Digital cameras have made it easier to take and store photos than ever before, but there’s something so appealing about having a physical picture to see and hold. Print off some of your favorite photos of your loved one and put them in a photo album or some small frames to keep them protected in transit. If you want to get really fancy (and have a bit of a bigger budget), you can also give them a digital picture frame with your favorite digital images already loaded onto it. They’ll think of you every time they see the frame!

Non-perishable Snacks

Everyone can always use more snacks, which is why they’re a great addition to any care package. Opt for hard-packaged goods that won’t get crushed en route, and try to avoid items like chocolate that might melt in the heat if you’re shipping during the hot months. If your items are shipping in bottles or other containers that might leak, seal them up in some plastic bags before packing them up so they won’t ruin other items. Jerky, trail mix and other dense, non-fragile snacks are better choices than potato chips or glass bottles.

coffee and tea samplers graphic

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are some of the most popular beverages all over the world, making them a solid contender for your care package. Give your loved one their favorite flavors, or help them branch out with a sampler from their go-to brand. You can also include related accessories, such as mugs, teapots, tea strainers, coffee filters and more. Make sure that you’re not giving your loved one caffeine if they only drink decaf–and vice versa. If your recipient isn’t a fan of coffee or tea, you can also send them some artisan hot chocolate with extra fluffy marshmallows instead.


Alcohol is a bit trickier to ship than other beverages because it’s restricted in some states. Rather than mailing it yourself, you might have better luck ordering directly from a beer, wine or liquor supplier and having it shipped straight to your recipient. (That way you also don’t have to worry about packaging up the glass bottles yourself.) Shipping over state lines can get complicated, so you might have better luck locating a retailer within your recipient’s state and shipping from there. The website should advise whether or not you can ship to your intended destination. It’s also a good idea to do a quick Google search beforehand so you don’t spend forever searching for the perfect bottle, only to realize that you can’t ship it to your intended destination.

books custom gift wrapping

Books and Magazines

If your recipient is a big reader, they are sure to appreciate a care package that includes some reading materials. If you can, purchase it from your (or their) local bookstore and have it shipped to your recipient. Bookstores often have other small items for sale such as fun socks, tote bags and pins, so you can create a whole care package just by shopping online. If size and weight are a problem—for example, you’re shipping overseas—consider smaller paperback books or magazines that will be cheaper to ship than a full-sized hardback book.


Scented candles are a great solution if you’re wondering what to put in a care package. Choose a nostalgic candle scent that will remind the recipient of their hometown or state, or give them a calming scent that’s perfect for relaxing. Most candles come in glass or ceramic containers, so you do need to be careful to wrap them completely before shipping so they don’t break in transit. (If you need to learn how to wrap a candle for a gift, we’ve got you covered!)

scented candles nostalgic scent

Bath and Body Products

Help your loved ones pamper themselves by sending them everything they need for an at-home spa night. Think bath bombs, foot scrubs, moisturizer, nail polish, face masks or a manicure set. If you’re sending them liquid items, make sure to seal them carefully in case they leak in transit. You can send them other accessories, such as loofahs and nail files, if you don’t want to bother with shipping liquids. Make sure to ask your recipient if they’re allergic to any fragrances or have any other sensitivities before you make your latest beauty haul.

Phone Accessories

If your friend is a digital native who can’t be separated from their phone, they'll be sure to appreciate some accessories to enhance their experience. Get them a cute case if they’re always dropping their phone, or a clip-on camera lens to help them take that perfect Insta. If they’re always running low on battery power, get them a charging cord and maybe a charging bug while you’re at it. If they drive a lot, a car changer might be more useful, or a stand to place their phone in so they can watch directions while they drive.


The next best thing to buying cute stationery for yourself is buying cute stationery for other people. If you already have more cards, notebooks and pens then you can use in a single lifetime, you might want to consider buying them to give to friends instead. If your friend isn’t quite as dedicated to stationery as you, most stationery stores will have other gifts for purchase as well, so you can put together an entire care package with only one stop. (And maybe get yourself another notebook while you’re at it. We know you want to.)

live plants add color


Live plants are all the rage right now, and with good reason. They look fantastic, add color to a space and purify the air. While shipping a plant on your own isn’t the easiest thing in the world, you can order them from experienced companies like The Sill, which will take care of the shipping for you. If your friend always has more plants than they know what to do with, you can always get them some cute pots, baskets or hangers to show off their new beauties. Garden accessories such as gloves and trowels are also a good option if your friend doesn’t need more pots.

Fuzzy Blanket

There’s nothing more soothing than curling up under a fuzzy blanket at the end of a long day with a cup of tea or a glass of wine. Besides, you can never have too many blankets, so your friend is sure to appreciate getting one. Try to choose a color or pattern that will fit in with your loved one’s chosen decor. If your friend already owns a ton of blankets and you want to help them upgrade, you can get them one of the uber-popular weighted blankets, which can help with anxious thoughts and certain sleep troubles.

Fun Clothing

Buying new clothes is fun, and it’s even better when you don’t have to spend your own money. Cheer up your loved one by sending them a new shirt, dress or skirt that’s exactly to their style. Now, giving clothes can be a bit tricky if you’re not good at knowing what style someone will like–or guessing their size–so this care package idea isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a fashionista who’s skilled at picking out clothes for yourself and your friends, garments make a great centerpiece for any care package.

Jewelry and Accessories

If clothing is too large to ship, or your loved one is already kind of a clotheshorse, you can still send them smaller accessories such as scarves, jewelry, gloves and hats. Just as with clothes, you should make sure that you really know your loved one’s style and color palette before purchasing them accessories; otherwise, they’ll just end up gathering dust at the back of their closet, or end up donated to a secondhand store. However, if you have a good grasp of what your friend likes to wear, a tasteful necklace or a cute scarf can be the perfect care package gift.

hands playing cards at table

Games of All Kinds

Whether your friend loves a good card, board or video game, any of these options is a fun complement to your care package. Card games are usually the easier to ship in terms of their size and weight, followed by video game discs or cartridges. Board game boxes are a little bit bulkier to ship, but well worth the extra effort if your friend is a big fan. There’s also a lot of tie-in merchandise related to various game properties if your friend already owns every game known to humankind.

Handmade Gifts

If you’re skilled with your hands, a custom made gift is sure to impress any care package recipient. Even a handmade card is a nice touch for a care package otherwise full of bought items. If you are more skilled than that, you can make your care package recipient a t-shirt quilt or a handmade scrapbook filled with pictures of your favorite memories together. This care  package is more time-consuming than the others on the list, but the end result will be an unforgettable item that your loved one is sure to treasure for all time.

Local Items

If your gift card recipient has moved away from home and misses it fiercely, you can help them feel less homesick by sending them a care package full of their favorite things about home. Feel free to draw inspiration from the other items on this list. For example, maybe you could get some coffee beans from their favorite coffee shop, a t-shirt from their favorite boutique and a body scrub from a local beauty store. You know your loved ones best, so think about what they like and follow your gut.

art on display outside of store

Gift Cards

Many people regard gift cards as a rather careless present idea, like they’re what you give someone when you don’t know them very well and have no idea what to give them. However, gift cards can be a fantastic idea when used right, especially if you are sending them from afar. They’re small, easy and cheap to ship in an envelope, not to mention the recipient gets to choose to spend them on what they want or need. If you’d ordinarily bring your friend over a homemade dinner, give them a gift card instead that they can spend on takeout or delivery.

Deciding what to put in a care package can be fun, especially if you love gift-giving. Remember to stick to your budget. A care package doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Always keep in mind what your friend or family member would like. Give them gifts they want to receive, rather than what you want to receive. You’ll be sure to make their day as soon as they open the box. Don’t forget to include their favorite Homesick scented candle for the final finishing touch.

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