We may live in an always-on, tech-obsessed society, but the value of snail mail has never been greater—just ask Ann Friedman.
As the co-host of Call Your Girlfriend and co-author of the upcoming book Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close, Friedman has a lot of experience with maintaining relationships at a distance. She was already doing so with help from the USPS before the pandemic, but now the habit feels much more important. That’s because a care package is a tangible thing that says, “I see you, I miss you, and I love you.”
“We are so starved for in-person reminders of how much we care about the people in our lives,” she says. “A care package is socially distant, but something we can hold in our hands.”
As we all start to tire of fleeting phone calls and Zoom chats, I think Friedman has the right idea. After all, who doesn’t like getting exciting things in the mail? Here are her three tips for creating the perfect care package, which will be as fun to make as it will be for a loved one to open.
Really Consider Their Interests
What exactly should you send to those you care about most? Start by thinking about what makes them tick.
“I like things that feel really personal—things that make me feel like the sender knows me,” Friedman says, who recently received a care package from a childhood friend from her hometown in Iowa. Inside was a rotary cutter from a local thrift shop: A small gesture, but one Friedman says resonated. “She really knows me, and knows I’m spending time quilting,” she explains.
Don’t Feel Like You Have to Spend a Ton
While it may feel like you should pull out all the stops for those you love, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should also pull out your wallet. Friedman fills her packages with items she hopes will mean something special, and her picks are usually more about being creative than extravagant. “It doesn’t have to be something that feels expensive or a big deal,” she says. “If it’s a truly good care package, there’s no other person you could send it to.”
For instance, maybe your friend loves a certain recipe you created but you never got around to writing it down. Or let’s say you own the sole copy of a beloved photo, and perhaps it’s a good idea to make two. “I sometimes send books I’ve already read with the page marked where something reminds me of the recipient,” Friedman adds.
Make First Impressions Count
There’s a simple way to make anything more exciting, Friedman says, and it involves a trick she learned from her mom—a.k.a. the “queen of care packages.” Cut something out from a magazine and paste it on the front of the box with a silly caption, or take an extra minute to write their name in a colorful, festive font.
“They’ll know immediately it’s not something that was ordered off the internet after too much wine,” she says. “From the minute they lay eyes on it, they’ll wonder what it is.”
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