To earn the Care Packages and Correspondence Badge, you will read about the history of CARE packages and explore tips for planning and packing care packages and sending other forms of correspondence. You’ll also gather friends or family for a care package packing party! We’ve outlined how to complete the badge in a weekend below.
But first, here is a quick rundown of how earning a badge works. We use “Badge Guides” to lay out what it takes to earn the badge.
Badge Guides are printable “recipes” or ideas for learning something new and sharing it with friends. Do something to satisfy each of the three steps to earn the badge:
Step 1. Research
Step 2. Learn from others
Step 3. Take action and share your knowledge
The steps in the Badge Guide are designed to be flexible, so if you want to watch different YouTube videos or read different websites, feel free! Just make sure they are fairly equivalent in length and information shared. You can use our worksheets to take notes, plan how you’ll complete each step, and record your reflections on earning the badge.
Complete Step 1: Research
Research the history of CARE packages and tips for packing care packages for different types of people or occasions. Be sure to grab a notebook and take some notes, or use this worksheet!
Learn about the History of CARE packages
Visit the website, listen to the podcast, and watch the video below to learn about the history of CARE packages.
- History.com outlines the fascinating origin of the term care package.
- The podcast A Way With Words also discusses the story of the original CARE package.
- This short video (below) discusses the impact CARE packages had in the past as well as today.
Research tips for Care Packages
Pinterest is full of ideas for care packages for lots of specific types of people. Identify the groups your loved ones belong to (sports fans, college freshmen, new parents, friends who need a pick-me-up) and search for care package ideas for those specific groups. Is there a special occasion coming up? Search ideas for that holiday or time of year!
- Explore care package ideas on Pinterest. You can see our curated favorites here.
- Watch our interview with Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes to hear her care package tips (below)
- Explore Rachel’s website for other care package tips
- Read these tips from SignUpGenius. They are written for people planning care packages for college students but we found them to be general enough to apply to other types of care packages
Complete Step 2: Learn About Care Packages from an “Expert”
Find a Friend to Teach you a few Tips
Do you know someone who sends great care packages? Ask them to share ideas and most importantly do’s and dont’s they’ve learned over time. Also seek out others who have received a meaningful package. Ask them about it. What made it special?
Visit a Gift Shop
Many specialty gift shops will assist you in curating a care package, or gathering gifts together that you can send. We love to shop at The Old Town General Store in Lansing for Michigan-themed gifts. I have purchased many items from this shop for our past German foreign exchange students and their families to send during the holidays.
Visit the Post Office
Familiarize yourself with what items can and cannot be sent in the mail. The rules can vary by state. Also be aware of custom restrictions for different countries. You can also find this information online. You also may want to check into delivery times for different locations and be aware of slower mail around the holidays. Look into the USPS Flat Rate shipping box options for sending internationally or sending heavy items.
Complete Step 3: Host a Care Package Packing Party
Step 3 is all about taking action and sharing your knowledge with others.
Make a Plan!
The first step in taking action is making a plan. For this badge, you’ll need to plan out your care packages including what you’ll pack and who you’ll send them to. We also encourage you to make a plan for corresponding more frequently with your loved ones.
Look at your calendar for the next two months. What special events are happening? What holidays are coming up? Plan out, week by week, what letters, cards, or care packages you COULD send. Then pick a few and put them on your calendar to make sure you do them. Also keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to send a magazine or newspaper clipping when an article reminds you of someone you love.
Spend some time Sunday morning or Saturday evening planning your care packages using the research and planning worksheet. What supplies do you already have? What will you need to buy?
Gather Care Package Contents
Chances are, you’ll have some care package contents you can use at home. For example, snack sized nuts, pretzels, candy, photos, or other momentos.
Next, make a list of supplies you need from the store. If you have the time, gather your group of care package makers early and shop together!
Remember that cost can quickly add up when making care packages. Try to balance free/low cost items with purchased ones. Sticking to a theme often makes shopping easier. The theme could be a color, a holiday, or an interest of the receiver.
Don’t forget to pick up supplies to decorate the box. See what you have at home first before spending a lot of money on this. Does a friend have any scrapbooking supplies they are no longer using? Even old newspaper decorated with Sharpies can make a festive look! We love to send memes printed from the internet that go with our theme.
Host a Care Package Packing Party!
Gather your boxes, decorations, gifts, and a group of friends and get busy! We paired our Care Package Packing Party with a group dinner but a few snacks would also suffice! If you are sending treats be sure to have a few extra for your fellow care package makers to sample.
Be sure to test out the box size before decorating! Do all your items fit? You will want a snug fit (or use packing material) so things don’t get tossed around during shipping. Once you have identified a box that will work, remove all your items and decorate the flaps of the box. This can be as simple as a handwritten message or very elaborate. Don’t forget the inside/bottom of the box!
Remember to include a card and/or a handwritten note! I recently sent a birthday box only to realize later that I forgot to include a card! Once your box is decorated and items are securely packed (breakable items should be wrapped in bubble wrap) you are ready to seal the box. I recommend using packing tape. Clearly label the package with recipient and return addresses. Now you are off to the Post Office!
Tell us about your experience earning this badge!
We want to hear from you! How did it feel to pack care packages and send a care package or two? Did you hear from the recipient? What did they say? Send us pictures of your care packages (tag us on Instagram or Facebook)! If you completed the steps of the badge, send us your notes and we’ll send you something in return.