Christmas coming up? Start preparing a holiday (or any time) care package to send to friends serving abroad!
When I was living in Asia, few things made me feel more loved than getting a care package. Our little expat community would get so excited if someone got a package filled with precious items from America.
Maybe there was a special candy or coffee we could enjoy together or a new book to be passed around. I remember one year a friend sent my roommates and me an entire box full of cheese (a precious commodity in a cheese-less country). We hosted a huge party to share the joy.
As you think through what to send, keep in mind that care packages are expensive for the sender and rare for the receiver. If you’re getting ready to ship out a care package, coordinate with the friend you are sending it to. Ask them for a list of things they both want and need and then include those items to maximize the impact of the gift
Here are some categories of things to include in a care package:
Everyone loves getting edible treats in the mail. Everything but the bagel spice, teas they can’t get there, baking supplies, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, taco seasoning, Parmesan cheese, or basically any candy from Trader Joe's might be well received. Homemade treats are an option too! My husband once received a huge bag of peanut brittle from a member of his sending church!
Though not the most fun, there are probably many practical things you could include. Maybe it’s face wash, makeup, deodorant, vitamins, or even underwear (I'll let you find those). Ask your missionary for a list of practical things they may need.
Holiday items for American Thanksgiving, Independence Day, or even Christmas are hard to come by. Some ideas are an Advent calendar, a pumpkin spice treat, Christmas prints, birthday candles, Thanksgiving day napkins, or some fun July 4 decor.
This one is so important! When all the candy is gone and Christmas has passed, a personal note of encouragement is something they can go back to. Ask their friends and family members to send notes that you can include. Also, think about including a small item or token of significance to them.
Homesickness is real on the field, especially in a missionary’s first term. One way you can meet them in this is by including something that reminds them of home. Maybe it’s a bag of coffee or a mug from a favorite local coffee shop, a postcard or magnet of their city or state, or maybe even some fall leaves from their favorite park.
Kids love care packages, too! Most of the missionaries with kids almost always ask for kids’ books to be sent. Other ideas could be sidewalk chalk and clothing for kids. Some fun candies like gummy worms or flavored jelly beans or special toys are great ideas too.
If he’s a sports fan, maybe a jersey or shirt from his favorite team. My husband would always ask for board games in his care packages. When in doubt, many people love food from home, so just pack more Pop-Tarts.
A move overseas a few years ago, and the nomadic lifestyle that came with it, has revolutionized my approach to packing—especially when it comes to clothes.
You may not have much money to spare, but you’re still passionate about missions and want to support missionaries any way you can. What can you do?