Care packages are one of the best ways to support a loved one in need. When a friend or family member is admitted to or discharged from the hospital, it can be isolating and lonely and creating a care package for your loved one can bring much needed comfort. From hospital, pre and post-surgery, get well, and friend care package ideas, we’ve put together the following guide on how to make a care package that’s sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
What is a Care Package?
The formal concept of a care package dates back to 1945 when the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE) created a program to provide food relief to Europe, where millions were in danger of starvation as a result of WWII. As time went on, the concept evolved and today is used in many different contexts. While much of our experience deals with hospital and home care packages, other popular types include care packages for military personnel and even college students.
What to Put in a Care Package
What to send in a care package really comes down to the person the care package is for. Here’s a few of our top recommended questions to ask yourself when setting out to create something memorable:
- What are their hobbies and interests?
- Do they spend most of their free time inside or outside?
- What makes them laugh?
- What are their favorite restaurants or foods to eat?
- What time of year is it? Is there a holiday right around the corner that the package’s recipient really enjoys?
- What are their favorite movies and TV shows?
- What do they like to read or who’s their favorite author?
- What is their favorite color or type of flower?
As a friend or family member, you have a great idea of who the person is, so you’re in a wonderful spot when it comes to delivering something that really brightens their day. Just sit down for a few minutes and brainstorm your thoughts. Feel free to use the above questions to get started.
9 Specific Care Package Ideas to Make Anyone Feel Better
- Fight Boredom: Especially during recovery, hospital patients can get antsy and restless, feeling cooped up in their room. Help keep their minds active with a few travel-size board games, magazines, puzzle books, and the latest novels.
- Bring Home to the Hospital: The sterile environment of a hospital can grow dull quickly. Warm up your loved one’s hospital room with simple touches that remind them of home. A few picture frames with familiar faces and a plant or two can do wonders.
- Pamper with a Spa Treatment: Treat your loved one in the hospital to a bit of TLC. A comfy robe to accompany hospital gowns, warm socks, and a luxurious lotion can make a hospital stay more relaxing. If your loved one is a bit more mobile, a manicure set might be an enjoyable activity.
- Stay Practical: If you find yourself getting stuck on ideas for care packages, remember that one doesn’t necessarily have to be creative to be thoughtful. If a person is admitted to a hospital for example, the patient may have forgotten a few things at home. A practical care package can arm them with every day necessities, such as lip balm, bottles of water, tissues, notebooks, pens, and pencils. Items for everyday use may not sound overly fun and exciting, but sometimes they’re what someone needs most.
- Consider a Gift Card: If you are supporting a caregiver who is at the hospital with a loved one, gift cards can go a long way. According to the Caregiver Action Network, caregiving can take a lasting toll on personal income. You can ease that burden with gift cards to local grocery stores, local housecleaners, and other useful services. While a gift card may not be the first idea that comes to mind for someone aiming to be very considerate, it’s absolutely practical. Sure, creativity and plenty of thoughtfulness go a long way when creating a care package, but sometimes more ordinary offerings can be even more useful and mean a lot.
- Create a Care Package for Other Visitors: If your loved one will be in the hospital for an extended period and will be expecting a myriad of visitors, all would appreciate a visitor care package. Including a guest book for visitors to record their well wishes, individually wrapped snacks to share, and Thank You notes with stamps to send to visitors will help your loved one maintain a sense of hospitality and etiquette.
- Bring Tastes of Home: Hospital food can get old. Barring no allergies or special diets, homemade food can be a welcome diversion. Baked goods are delicious, but might be overdone. Consider something other than cookies or brownies, such a pancakes or muffins for breakfast. Consider the caregiver and healthy choices and consider bringing food for the whole family.
- Embrace Sports Revelry and Competitive Spirit: If your loved one is hospitalized during their favorite sports season, a sports-related gift basket might be the ticket. A new jersey or team shirt is great for in-room cheering. Don’t forget some favorite stadium snacks like popcorn or cracker jacks. Some magazines or books with stats and data can pass the time as well.
- Give the Gift of Laughter: If laughter is the best medicine, then a humorous care package must certainly be the best gift for those in the hospital. Joke books, light-hearted novels, comedy DVDs, and maybe even a Whoopee Cushion can get those giggles going for everyone.
How to Make a Care Package
If you’re sending your care package as opposed to delivering it in person, one fun idea is to decorate the inside of the actual large flat rate box you might use to send its contents. Decorating the inside of the cardboard with photos, well wishes and the recipient’s favorite colors and patterns is a way to create something that’s more than just a handful of purchased items – being crafty will make for a sentimental and happy experience when opening and beyond.
If you’re not one for arts and crafts, there are plenty of websites and delivery services available that will do all of the work for you. A few of the top online one-stop shops for gift basket include:
- 1-800 Flowers.com
- 1-800 Baskets.com
- Cheryl’s (cookies)
- Fannie May
- The Popcorn Factory
If you love Do-It-Yourself projects, there are plenty of places to go for inspiration like Pinterest, Real Simple magazine, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or even your local arts and crafts stores. The benefit of creating the package yourself is the level of thoughtfulness that goes into the effort, which certainly won’t go unnoticed.
Hospital Care Package Considerations
If the person you happen to be creating a care package for is in the middle of a hospital stay, make sure you look into and follow the hospital’s rules. Depending on where a patient is staying, there may be specific regulations about when you can visit and what you can deliver. Also be mindful of special diets that your friend or family member must adhere to. This way you can be sure the hospital care package that you deliver can be enjoyed to the fullest!
A Final Care Package Thought
While there’s thousands of wonderful ideas and resources available to help put you on a path to creating the best care package possible, the best care packages are the ones that come from the heart. Forget how many things are inside, the price and the degree of fanciness, a care package of any shape or size communicate a clear message of support. By sending a care package, you’re letting your loved one know that you’re here to help and you care. And when a friend or family member knows this, everything else, including the contents of the package, become less important because friendship, love and support are the best gifts of all.