For the soldier, missionary, or college student in your life: care packages can be cost-effective, too. When you ship Media Mail with the post office, you save 40-50%. For example, a 10 pound package parcel post will cost you $11.35 whereas media mail it only costs you $6.04 (about 47% savings.) How do you get the media mail rate? Edit the contents of your package. Media mail can include books, film, manuscripts, recordings, video tapes, and computer readable media. At first glance you may be thinking, “Um…okay, so how am I supposed to send them a package with things they’ll like?” Obviously sometimes its worth the splurge to be able to send your college student ramen noodles or send someone overseas their favorite American candy bar. But here’s some ideas for media mail care packages that your loved one will appreciate and look forward to while keeping some cash in your pocket:
I’ve been in a military family during the current conflicts. And the biggest thing I’ve heard soldiers saying is that they want things to keep their mind off the fact that they’re in a warzone during their off time. Media mail is perfect.
Books! There’s this great organization called Operation Paperback that collects gently used, paperback books to send to soldiers for this exact purpose. I’ve organized a few book drives through churches and local libraries the past couple of years. To see what they need most and figure out how to send a shipment through them, click on their link. Obviously, you can send your own soldier books that fit their individual tastes.
CDs Who doesn’t like music? Most soldiers I’ve known have had access to computers and walkmans while deployed, but you know your soldier’s situation best. Don’t send them things they can’t use :p
DVDs Whether from the $3 bin or a new release they can’t believe they’ve missed in theaters, movies provide a few hours of distraction.
Magazines Like books, a magazine targeted at your soldier’s interests can be enjoyed regardless of access to technology.
Letters Don’t underestimate how much words from a loved one can mean. Little ones can draw pictures, more mature friends/family members can send words of encouragement, appreciation and uplifting news from home.
Video Letters! You can use a burned DVD or a flash drive to send your loved one messages from home WITH YOUR FACE! Flash drives can be cheap or expensive, but here’s an idea to make the cost worth it. Record your message, and then have your soldier record a message to send back home on the same drive. Repeat! If you’re not video capable with your computer, you can use these same media devices to send pictures.
For all my Mormon friends out there, I know missionaries love care packages and you love sending them. Remember when you’re sending items that they must meet mission standards. Keep things clean and spiritual while sending fun and smiles.
Books! To keep the costs of this area down, check out the clearance section at Deseret or Seagull. Fun, spiritual, whatever. You know your missionary best. And clearance does not always mean crap. It may just mean out of season. And with them gone for two years, chances are they won’t notice. Or really even care.
Magazines Ensign, New Era, the norm 🙂
CDs Like the soldiers, not every missionary has access to technology. Be sensitive in sending things that your missionary can use. In this case, also be sensitive to mission rules. Send spiritual and/or clean music. My favorite is Variations on a Sacred Theme by Lex de Azevedo.
DVDs Same rules as CDS. Make sure they can use them and that they are mission appropriate. Check out all the Mormon stores for Mormon movies (they have comedies, dramas, stuff that isn’t just stuff they’re showing investigators anyways.) Keep everything else rated G and in compliance with mission rules.
Letters Words of encouragement! Uplifting news from home! Gather letters from the whole ward if you want!
Journals Help them keep a record of these two unique years with anything from a blank notebook to a specialized Mormon missionary journal (again, check Deseret, Seagull etc.) (For a blank notebook, check out your local dollar store.)
Video Letters! Check out this idea under the “Soldiers” section.
3. College Students
With most college students downloading music and movies onto their iPods, iPads, or whatever the latest gadget is, this list is going to be a little different. Your scholar has access to most things that our other two categories did not, but they still don’t have access to the most important thing in their life: you.
Blanks CDs and DVDs They can use these to burn music, homework assignments, pictures, videos, WHATEVER. They’re not too expensive, but on a students budget, they’ll be much appreciated.
Magazines Again, while they may have access to these, they may not be able to convince themselves to splurge on them. Then again, maybe they like spending your money. Spend here at your discretion. 🙂
Blank Flashdrives These may be more practical than CDs and DVDs, especially when it comes to schoolwork.
Notebooks Undoubtedly overpriced at their college bookstore, picking these up will be much more cost-efficient for you at home. And they’re still used, even with that fancy new laptop.
Video Letters! Again, same idea as listed under “Soldiers.” Your college student will undoubtedly be able to use this with you, and hopefully will keep homesickness at bay.