A black background with kraft envelop and redish orange flowers peeking from the envelope. Symbolising "Hope in the mail".

Showing you care for someone can be a little harder right now. Near or far, here are some thoughtful suggestions on what you can do contact-free, or by mail. The idea of this article is to give you suggestions to celebrate events from afar. To send some unexpected joy to someone who may be alone or just needs a little cheering up. To support someone in a lonely time. Think of this as a guide to care packages for friends.

If you want to prepare for Christmas gifts, it’s really not too early. Some of these can be put together from home, and others are ready-made and mailable direct. If you are spending rather than making, keep to your budget, the aim is for fun and welcome surprises, not generosity.

Feel free to use our list as a suggestion and do your own research. Ask friends or social groups for suggestions. Which companies have they used in the past? Or for suggestions on what to send a certain person with random hobbies that differ from your own.

It’s Friday. Even if it’s not, a package of popcorn, vegetable chips, and a box of chocolates or speciality teas can go a long way to cheering someone who isn’t expecting it. Also items like waffle cones, sprinkles and ice magic can make for an ice-cream bar. If your friend is nearby, confirm in advance a night you will arrange a Pizza or other delivery from their favourite store, or uber eats so they don’t have to cook. If they are far away, a few non-perishables in the mail can bring a dose of cheer.

A table with waffle cones, sprinkles, freeze dried strawberries, crushed nuts, berries, spoons, ice cream cone holder. 

Boredom busters. Swap board games or puzzles with friends, this is lovely for families with children of similar ages. It changes up the games so you are not confined to the same game over and over again.

Neighbourly thoughts. When the friend is just next door, or you have a single neighbour who is feeling isolated, heartwarming gifts like a mini sourdough, homemade biscuits, even homemade granola, or a warming dinner dish can easily be dropped at the door with a gentle knock. Ditto fresh grown vegetables, eggs from chickens if you have them, for a quick “thinking of you” sentiment.


Picnic basket with croissants, a loaf of bread, apples, salami and wine

Swap and Share. Boardgames, puzzles, books, why not box up the ones you have enjoyed and are not using, mail and share with a friend/ family you know. A fun way to share and create conversations for kids. Plus you have the bonus of different activities without breaking the budget. You can always agree to return to the original owner as a part of the agreement.  Just be sure to take care of the item and return it in the same condition you received it.

Chemotherapy Care Packages, also for sympathy and rocky roads. Caring Canary have curated care packages to reach out with. Items guaranteed to brighten someone’s day. Feel better box is another provider.

A photo book. A photobook is thoughtful to send to grandparents who may be far away. A nice reminder that children are growing and changing. Combine photos of the grandchildren, make them into a book and send them directly. Companies like Snapfish, Once Upon, Vistaprint allow you to design online or through an app, then have your item printed and sent. Another alternative is a USB loaded with images, but it doesn't convey the same, "sit back and peruse" happy vibe as a hard copybook.

A woman looks at a Photobook with young children

Children’s Therapy and fun. (Primary teachers will enjoy these suggestions too) – Bilby have signing puppets, tangle toys, chew toys, games for sensory therapy and vision impairment. Auslan resources, Educational Games, Motor Skills, Auditory and Verbal resources for lip reading, listening and speech.  My diffability have a huge range - calming clothing, fidget tools, gross and fine motor skills tools, items both for fun play and for learning. Special needs resources skills, challenges and general – musical instruments, anxiety management, games, and so much more. Toys and tools for management and stimulation, sensory and imaginative, cognitive development and more.

 

Little child playing with busy board house on floor, closeup

 

Creative Kids Packs. For the kids, eligible NSW residents can use creative kids vouchers for all manner of creative pursuits. Culture, Coding, Creative Writing, Art and design, Crafts, Printmaking, Robotics  - the list of activities are almost endless. There are packs and online courses. Try  CleverPatch, Charlie Boots, or Find a Provider through Service NSW.

For STEM and STEAM kids Kiwico has one-off crates, individual projects and packs as well as subscriptions.  They have a DIY section too, for ideas to make with things you have at home. Dare we say it? LEGO! – Check your local retailer too.

A recipe book. Nice for your slightly older children, or newly independent children who are living away. Write up favourite family recipes. They can be handwritten. Or, if you want a fancy one, these can also be printed through the Photo Book Companies mentioned above, and use your phone to start taking pictures of the recipes if you are making them.

Recipe Book, with a handwritten recipe resting on it. To the side are butter and eggs.

You can read about Book Club and subscriptions hereBook lovers, we have devoted an article to finding groups online and how to source books too, when your bookshop is out of reach. On top of that, Picture books are always a welcome surprise for little ones. And swapping books between friends is another way to have something more than COVID to talk about.

Story Time. My father used to write little stories to my son, who at the time loved Brer Rabbit. These were basically adventures of Brer Rabbit with tales of things my father had been up to, and he included little photos of familiar destinations near his house, like the park my son would visit with him. He would weave Brer Rabbit into the stories and use photo editing to put Brer Rabbit in the photos. It was always a treat when they came in the mail. My uncle soon took up a similar idea with his grandchildren. Using the child's favourite character, and destinations they can relate to can help build interest. Artists can substitute photo editing for visual arts. Crafters can make up handmade touchy-feely books similar to "That's not my car" with different textures on the pages. 

Support the bush. Buy from the Bush is a marketplace for the Australian bush business. A gateway to rural and regional Australia. Small businesses can sell their products across one platform.

Something flat for the stationery lover. Bespoke Press is a couture stationer, and Pink Paddock Store have lovely stationery and gifts. These stores have totally different styles, with luxury stationery, puzzles, greeting cards, notepads, calendars and curated gifts to choose from.

Simple notebooks and journals in lovely designs are readily available from stores like k-hub and target, and they won’t break the bank. Easy to mail, along with some sweet notepaper for s nice surprise.

gift box with ribbon picture

For the little stationery lover. Stuck on You have personalised sketchbooks, labels, pencils and markers, journals, rewards charts and all with fun designs aimed at children. Packs of stickers added to the mail are another suggestion.

The sporty ones. Little kids, (and probably some of the 6ft kids too) will love these Backyard Cricket Stump Stickers. Cricket season is just around the corner after all.

For the foodies. Grounded pleasures for all things cocoa and the most delicious and real marshmallows. Campfire anyone? Lockdown rescue packs or cheese subscriptions from Cheese Therapy, need we say more.

The homebodies, or those with a new home. Think of cozy-homey ideas. Candles in a tin, silk pillowcase or eye mask, lightweight throw rug, comfy slippers and the like. The sprout house at buy from the bush customise doormats, or this homebody doormat is also a warm welcome. Places like Adairs, Pillow Talk, Bed, Bath and TableMy House Australia and Pottery Barn online sites are other places to take a look. (Let your fingers do the walking).

home sweet home welcome mat on floor

 

For coffee addicts. Purchase packs or even subscription offers. Clandestino, Campos, Pablo and Rusty’s cover your coffee needs. If you are after biodegradable pods, made in Australia, then Urban Brew have what you are looking for.

The eco-friendly. Seed and sprout, and Biome, as well as flora and fauna, have all the essentials. A little shoutout to Kooshoo for organic hair ties, headbands and scrunchies too.  What about a regular toothbrush subscription.

Pamper pack. Try Peony Parcel who have the equivalent of a day spa in a box. The Shade has a hair colour for the home.

For fur babies. Stuck on you pet and RSPCA for pets. Regular subscriptions are available through Olly’s Box and Wag Swag for Dogs. Also, Pet Circle have boxes for cats.

dog playing fetch picture

End of year teacher gifts. If you have had a teacher who has made an extra impression this year, you can check through Identity direct or stuck on you for Primary teachers. Stickers and stamps are the domain of teachit co.

For the gardener. You can collect seeds from your own garden to send and share. Make up little seed envelopes for each type. Or if you need a little hand, Salisbury Grange creates seed packs, or this beautiful Summer full of flowers seed pack. Gin Gin Garden Club has evolved from just a garden club to sell outdoor goods, accessories and garden wares.

For the new gardener, these kits have everything you need to grow your own edible flowers, herbs, healthy greens or cocktail mixes from scratch.

young albino woman gardening 

For a recent long haul package to an isolated location, I recently sent sudoku and mindfulness books, pop-it sensory toys for the kids, some topical magazines, a variety of chocolates( nothing perishable) as it risks being in a long queue of backlogged mail for some time. Hopefully, a lot of joy. 


And a friendly reminder, Tips to stay safe for online shopping is our article to help you stay safe online. 


IDEAS does information so you can do care packages.