Earlier this week, I confessed that I used to spend way too much money on care packages and honestly, the contents of each care package were a big reason why. Sure I tried to use coupons and pick items that were on sale, but the toiletries, snacks and magazines were really adding up to a budget-busting amount. If I was going to get my care package budget under control, then I needed to reduce the amount I spent on the contents. Luckily, there are a lot of fun cheap things to put in care packages!
I don’t like filling my husband’s care packages with junk and am pretty intentional about what I send. But I’ve actually found that he enjoys some of these cheap (and handmade) items more than the pricey store-bought items. It was a nice reminder for me to not always focus on the aisles at the store, but on the personal touches I could create at home.
Cheap things to put in care packages
There are lots of creative ways to send photos in a care package, but the cheapest way is still a regular old print. Most photo-printing sites have very cheap 4X6 prints as do a lot of pharmacies (some of which can have them ready in an hour if you’re tight on time!)
Artwork from little ones
In addition to this being a great way to get kids involved in care packages, you can also file this under “almost free things to put in care packages”. Really everyone wins here! Drawings and paintings will be a great way for your loved one to brighten up their room while deployed and it can be a fun project for you to take on with your little ones. To keep cost down, use supplies you already have at home: printer paper and a few markers is all you need to create a masterpiece.
Love letters are one of my favorite cheap things to put in care packages! Nothing brings back the old-fashioned romance quite like a handwritten love letter. You could purchase fun stationery or use whatever paper you have on hand. If you do choose to buy cards or stationery, be careful as that’s where the cost starts to add up!
My small town has quite a few local (and free) publications that I use as additions to care packages. Local magazines or community newspapers serve the dual purpose of keeping your loved one connected to home and all the happenings as well as providing cheap filler for your care package. Check your downtown area or the local grocery store or community center for publications to send.
It’s amazing the impact a cheap air freshener can have on a room and your mental well-being. A few dollars spent on an air freshener will be much appreciated, especially if your loved one’s room is small and shared with other people. Just make sure you package it in plastic bag so that the smell doesn’t leak into your other items!
Powdered water flavoring
I love sending my husband water flavoring products to give him a little variety, but the liquid kind can be very pricey! Look for the powder instead as they’re cheaper, fit into smaller spaces and usually come as a multi-pack.
Bulk snacks (especially those with individual packages)
Buying certain items in bulk can make them much cheaper than purchasing individual items. When you’re in the store, do some quick math and divide the cost by the number of individual packages that come in it. That tells you how much each individual package of trail mix or nuts actually costs and ensures that you’re getting a good deal!
You’re probably counting down the days until you’re loved one will be coming home, right? You know who else is? Your loved one! Why not help them keep track of the days with a fun countdown calendar! You can spend $7-$10 on a planner, decorate each of the days and add it to the first care package of the deployment. I have done this a few times, adding funny jokes, random drawings and encouraging quotes throughout the days so he has something new to read each day.
ABC’s of us
This is another craft project that could be a great addition to your care package. The idea is that you pick words for each letter of the alphabet that relate to your relationship. You could write them as a list, in a pre-made notebook or make your own little flip book like this example. This would be a really cute idea for an anniversary care package or, if you made it the ABCs of you, for a birthday care package.
USB drive with videos
While video chat can be the highlight of a deployment, sometimes the Internet connection and timing aren’t in your favor. That’s why this cheap idea is such a good one! Buy a cheap USB drive and record some videos to put on it for your loved one to watch over and over again. Maybe it’s full of birthday or holiday messages from friends or family or maybe it’s a video of you telling them how much they’re loved or maybe it’s a recap of a day in your life. No matter what’s on it, it’s definitely a good addition to your list of cheap things to put in care packages!
With so many cheap things to put in care packages out there, you can easily find a way to save some money when you’re filling your next box. Get creative, spend a little time crafting and you’ll be amazed at just how much your loved one enjoys their next care package.
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.