Are you absolutely dying to make my day? Then send me a care package!!! *
It’s been a really tough couple of days for me, the kind of days that make me question my sanity, wonder about my coping abilities, wish everything could be easier, hope someone out there appreciates me, and dream of care packages from home. **
Ahhhh. Care packages from home—the ultimate, tangible sign that someone is thinking about you and CARES. The thing that can make a terrible day a thousand times better, and help you through the next terrible day as well.
For those of you who have never sent a care package ***, I have written the following guide on how to pack one. Maybe this will help you out enough for me to receive something in the mail in the next couple months, to get me through the next downward spiral into doom and gloom that is lurking around the cultural corner.
First: see if you can find out what the other person really wants in a care package.
(I’ll pretend you are asking me right now.) ****
- Peanut Butter M&Ms
- Other chocolate, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
- Nice pillow
- Peanut Butter
- Good-smelling candles
- World Map wall poster
- Paper towel
- Duct tape
- Butter dish
- Sharp kitchen knife
- Quality silverware, 2-4 of each: fork, knife, spoon
- Trail mix (preferably the kind without mostly peanuts)
- Granola bars (I especially like Clif bars)
- Re-Nu contact solution (I wear my glasses way more often than I’d like, because I don’t want to run out of contact solution.)
Lipton Iced Tea mix (for summertime, which is not coming up anytime soon)
- Words of Encouragement
- LIFE cereal (How I miss eating cereal!)
A round hairbrush
- Pictures from home
- Mandolin music (can’t believe I didn’t bring my “Mel Bay’s Deluxe Bluegrass Mandolin Method” book!)
- Books (anything you think is a good read)
Venus Divine razor refills Dove sensitive skin bar soap
- Goldbond lotion
- Green Stride gum
Hot sauce (might make the winter potatoes taste better)
- Wool socks
- Warm leggings
Vanilla pudding mix
- Brownie Mix
- Chocolate Chips
- Under Armour, size medium
Hooded Sweatshirt, size Medium (As someone who normally lives in hoodies in the winter, I have to wonder why I only brought one!) Puzzles (something to do during the long winter)
Second: Put at least one thing that they asked for in the care package.
There are worse things than receiving a care package with nothing in it that you really wanted. [Insert story about my friend (who doesn’t love Oreos) who got a care package loaded with Oreos, a paper from her credit card company with their latest account changes, and a roll of travel toilet paper.] We know it’s the thought that counts, and it’s awesome to get anything in the mail. But it’s even more awesome to get something meaningful and/or useful.
Third: Put in at least one thoughtful item that they didn’t necessarily request, but that you think might bring a huge grin to their face when they see it.
I love surprises! And I especially love when it’s obvious that someone put some thought into what they sent me. [Case in point: my friend Dianne (hi, Dianne!) sent me a Harriet Carter magazine, which reminded me of the fun times we used to have at work, trying to decide which absolutely useless thing in the magazine was the most ridiculous. So not only did I get a magazine in the mail (which I shared with my host mother who thought it was amazing), but I also got happy memories at the same time.]
Fourth: Pack the box this way:
- Remove items from all extraneous packaging. Cardboard backings and extra wrappings just take up space that could be occupied by other fun things. This includes the box that my granola bars came in. If necessary, replace the box with a big zip-lock bag.
- Write at least a short note (preferably a long, detailed, wordy, interesting letter) and include it in the package.
- Pad the box with small packets of trail mix, clothing, or the funnies, not packing peanuts. (Again, we want to maximize space.)
- Write (or print out) the address in both English and the appropriate foreign language (in my case, Armenian) ***** and attach it to the box.
- Use lots of tape. Boxes aren’t necessarily treated gently on their way overseas.
Finally: SEND THE PACKAGE!
You know what’s the worst? Knowing there is a package that someone “meant” to send you still sitting at their house. It will sit long enough in a storage room in Timbuktoo before it gets to Armenia.****** Send it on its way, so I don’t have to extend for a third year just to get my package!
But to prepare you realistically, it will be a little more work to send a package internationally than to another United State. You will have to fill out a customs form detailing everything that is in the package. And it will be more expensive to send than you may have expected. BUT IT IS WORTH IT!!! Prepare yourself mentally before you go to the post office, but don’t let this stop or delay you from putting something in the mail. If the price is daunting to you, buddy up and share the cost (and the joy of giving) with a friend!
Send the package through the U.S. Postal Service. Any other carrier will require me to pay customs fees once the package gets here.
* Note: Although this is written by me (Ev), please realize it is not just my own sentiment. This is what Peace Corps Volunteers are saying all over Armenia (and probably the world) right now. If you know a Peace Corps Volunteer, please read this entry again, and pay special attention to the last step.
** Which I have rarely in my life received, by the way. There was one notable one from Mark (Hi, Mark!) that deserves special mention. You can read about it here.
*** Shame on you!
**** I never realized that a list of requests from home could (a.) reveal so much about a person, and (b.) be so filled with specific brand requests. I didn’t know I was so brand-conscious!
***** If you don’t have my address and you want it, please send me an email or comment here.
****** The package could take anywhere from 3 weeks to several months to arrive, so the sooner you send it the better. If you are considering sending a Christmas present, try to send by the beginning of October, because otherwise when everyone goes on vacation for the holidays, the box could literally sit in a storage room until February or March. And this storage room is “first in, last out,” from what I hear.
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