By Marian Paulette
You know you want to create a care package for your college student. You even have some great ideas about what you’d like to include. But that space between idea and creation starts to feel overwhelming, particularly if you’ve found yourself down the rabbit hole of Pinterest! On top of that, shipping costs can give you sticker shock if you’re not careful.
So here’s another quick and easy How-To post for creating — and shipping — your next DIY care package! Whether you are crafting a care package for a college student, sending a Get Well package to a friend recovering from surgery or illness, or simply sending a sweet surprise to someone special, the simple formula below will work for any kind of care package you need (or want) to send.
What should I put in a homemade care package?
When you are creating a DIY care package, deciding what to add is the fun part! If you are making one to send to your college student or young adult child, then you’ll definitely want to check out these posts: Show ’em the Love: 30 Ideas for Creating College Care Packages and College Care Packages for Finals. It’s filled with several tried and true items college kids both need and want. It also includes resources and printables for streamlining the process.
While it might seem counterintuitive to the creative process, the first decision you need to make is not what you will put inside your care package but rather what size box you want to use for shipping. In many ways, what goes inside is the easy part once you have the box figured out.
However, here are a few quick and easy ideas for you using the small, medium and large Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping boxes from the United States Postal Service. If you’re interested in controlling your shipping costs, using these flat rate boxes really is the way to go.
Themed DIY care package ideas
Small care package: It’s Your Birthday, No Prob-llama!
As you know, good things absolutely come in small packages! All I did for this one was clip a few of my child’s favorites to this banner I found at Hobby Lobby. When she opens up her package, it creates a fun, and unexpected, surprise. I added the green shred to the base of the box to create a contrasting pop of color and then used my fun paper and cutouts to jazz up the lid.
With very little time and effort, I was able to create something that adds just a touch more excitement to sending an ordinary gift card.
Below is everything you will need to re-create this care package:
- (1) small USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box ($8.45*)
- (1) piece of pink polka dot paper
- (1) bag of lime green shred
- (1) package with Happy Birthday llama garland banner
- (1) package of llama hanging decor (or something similar)
- (3) gift cards
Medium care package: Going “BATTY” Without You!
When you are creating DIY care packages, the holidays offer loads of easy ideas and options, so you don’t have to think too hard about being creative. Seasonal gifts and decor are easy to find, which means all you really have to do is choose a few themed items to pair with a mix of your child’s favorite snacks.
Here I created a Halloween-themed care package and filled it with an assortment of candy — along with a few healthy treats for good measure! — and some fun Halloween items (fangs, spider rings, etc.) I found at Target’s Dollar Spot.
I added the “punny” phrase to the bat wings using letter stickers, and then embellished the box lids with my colored paper. The Halloween shred goes in the bottom of the box for added color and helps secure your items for shipping. Simple…easy…and fun for your student to open!
Below is everything you will need to re-create this medium-sized care package:
- (1) USPS medium Priority Mail Flat-Rate box ($15.50*)
- (2) pieces of Halloween paper
- (2) bags of Halloween-colored shred
- (2) bags of Halloween candy
- (1) large Halloween bat
- (2) small Halloween bats
- (2) metal pails
- (1) bag of spiders and spider rings
- (1) package of white sticker letters
Large care package: It’s “RUFF” Without You!
The large box is perfect for when you want to send actual gifts. For this one, I picked the phrase I wanted to use and then built the box around it. The precious black and white paw print paper and ribbon led me to the black and white theme, and from there it was just a matter of putting it all together.
Below are the items needed to replicate this care package using the large USPS flat rate shipping box:
- (1) large USPS Priority Mail Flat-Rate box ($21.90*)
- (2) pieces of paw print paper
- (2) pieces white card stock
- (1) roll of paw print ribbon
- (3) bags of white shred
- Gifts: pillow, frame, pumpkin, letter block, puppy chow
Care package delivery
Certainly, there are many options for shipping packages, but my preference for using the flat rate boxes has everything to do with knowing my cost on the front end. In case you didn’t know, the USPS flat rate boxes are exactly that — a flat rate! When you pick one up from the post office, you don’t have to pay for it until you bring it back ready to ship. And when you do, you’ll know the cost.
So here’s a recap of the four simple steps I use when creating care packages (of any kind) to ship. Remember, you can find additional details in our care package post, as well.
STEP 1: Choose the size of your shipping box.
To prevent shipping sticker shock, using a Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping box from the post office will ease the anxiety of wondering how much it will cost to ship! Your local post office wins the day when it comes to this step. Once you grab your box, it’s time for the fun part.
STEP 2: Choose your theme.
Whether it is for a holiday, birthday, exams week, or just because, picking a theme will give you a starting point. Make things easy on yourself and decide that on the front end.
STEP 3: Choose the items you want to send.
You’ve picked your box and theme, now it’s time to fill it up! Whether you are sending your student’s favorite snacks, gift cards, personalized gifts, etc., they will be so excited to get a little love from home!
STEP 4: WOW! it.
Now it’s time to make it personal and add the WOW! A cute pun, a sweet note, a personalized touch will mean the world to your college student —boy or girl — and remind them how much they are missed and loved!
Even if “crafting” isn’t your thing, you, too, can make a simple DIY care packages! So let’s get to it and have fun!
*Cost for USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes at time of publication; these rates could be subject to change. Please check the USPS website for most current pricing and additional requirements.