Our youngest, The Boy, is our third kid going through the away-at-school process and I was running low on the groovy care package ideas.
I needed help!
most of us with multiple children have encountered the problem of keeping the momentum alive when it comes
to the youngest.
They believe that we have always favored The Prince —
as they call him — and that from his first breath he was
all that we paid attention to.
In reality, The Piglets baby book
is impeccable. Ultrasounds, baby shower cards, locks of hair,
countless photographs, even hospital records from the time she
shoved a whole serving of peas up her nose — its all in
One of many stage shows – weren’t they the CUTEST?
And when Decibel
came along, we had discovered the camcorder. The video footage
of her exploits — from her first steps to butt-scooting around
with a broken leg in a cast are lovingly documented.
Big homemade productions
that she directed and starred in were never missed. She created grand performances costumed in
feather boas, dozens of necklaces adorning wild dresses and giant
shoes. All of this was captured on
miles of video tape.
I’m not even
sure The Boy has a baby book. If he does, its probably more
like a baby pamphlet. Nor can I think of a single photo or video
of him as a youngster that doesn’t include one or both of his
Hardly the chronicles we would have kept for the favorite.
Our Readers to my Rescue!
When the time came for The Boy’s first care package, I realized
that I had once again lost my edge with him. The excitement
I had felt while creating fun packages for The Piglet and Decibel was
gone. I really needed some help. I decided that I should hand
it over to the experts. Our wise readers.
they could help me create a care package so amazing that it would
make up for the fact that The Boys baby book is a mere leaflet
and that he never achieved more than supporting actor status
in our family videos.
The #1 Suggested Item – Homemade Baked Goods
a reader from our Facebook
Page suggested: “How about brownies and ch.chip
cookies – NOT out of a box! Nobody gets homemade any more
also from Facebook added: “Homemade caramel fudge brownies…”
I am SO not a
baker. And brownies? Don’t get me started. My only attempts have
turned out runny goo or a black brick-like substance.
Jane had inadvertently
suggested the impossible. But since we have the smartest and most
clever readers, I dove right in.
we are purposefully homeless, I borrowed a kitchen (don’t
ask) and started with Jan’s cookies.
Easy, really anyone
can do cookies. I didn’t burn the bottom of a single one!
The trick is to actually allow the oven to preheat.
packing, I put four to a baggy, for busy
college student grab-n-go ease.
it or not, the brownies were perfect! Well, until the caramel
<– That’s not cheese in the picture.
I really thought
I had followed the directions to the letter, but as usual,
things went terribly awry.
The caramel wouldn’t spread without
decimating the brownies underneath and
then it cooled into
a rock-hard mess. Cutting them into squares (squares being a very flexible term) took a
Herculean effort that required sculpting tools.
sent them on anyway with the hope The Boy doesn’t yank a filling
Things I couldn’t mess up by cooking them
from Twitter said: “Anything local that they can’t buy where
they are now. My kid is from Hawaii, live in NYC, so
Crack Seed Shop care pkg is (love.)”
related to Wendy (after googling what crack seed
was — it’s safe!); our kids all graduated high school
on a small tropical island. The conch shell horn
is family tradition, The Piglet drove her dorm-mates crazy with her incessant
The Boy went to a college with a rich sports tradition, so the horn came in handy at football games.
“Rolls of quarters for the laundromat were
always a hit!”
Anne exclaimed, “Money!”
the rolls of quarters. Especially since we expected our kids
to work for daily basics while in college,
it’s a good way to give them a little money without ACTUALLY giving
College is ridiculously expensive and we feel
strongly that to appreciate it, they must pitch in. Though, like
Mary Anne, we sneak them checks for their birthdays and such.
Another no-money cheat is gift cards for groceries, restaurants, clothes,
Another Twitter pal: “Lots of storage solutions if there is a
Absolutely wonderful idea.
Dorms are tight spaces and
anything you can find to create space would be most welcome.
The Boy received
a laundry basket for this suggestion, as he was post-dorm.
No one is
better at cracking an inappropriate, yet wickedly hysterical joke
than The Boy’s “Uncle” Rich:
a stack of nudey magazines and a 5 pack of Red Stripe?”
While The Boy may well enjoy those things, I found a magazine
that I hoped he would find equally stimulating: Entrepreneur.
The lead story?
“Young Millionaires, How They Did It.”
friend, Devin, was equally as scary: “Technology.
Some cool gadget he doesn’t have yet… but for entertainment,
not education. (ipod, psp,video watch…) Or, the funny
crap! Devin’s kids get video watches?
We got The Boy a movie (movies are technology,
right?), he’s a pilot, so Airplane! is a cult classic among his
I’m ignoring the condom suggestion. The Boy would kill me for blogging about his condom situation.
on movies. We sent both The Piglet and Decibel “best of” video
DVDs in their first care package. They included funny clips of them,
family antics, theatrical productions, band & choir recitals,
etc. They LOVED it! Of course we have no footage of The Boy, so
he didn’t get one.
you notes. Make sure you include stamps. Get the most
masculine ones you can find if your spawn is a male.
Doesn’t mean that they will actually be sent, but it ups the
odds. I’m happier to get a thank
you phone call myself, seems much more personal (and fun!) but am
satisfied with an e-mail.
But, the older crowd considers
those means of communication rude – my mother-in-law included. So
my kids send real live old fashioned thank you notes (I think).
Microwave mac ‘n cheese / soup / ramen noodles. These just-add-water comfort
foods are great for care packages, and college students
put these way up on their favorites list.
They also work as a nice
packing buffer for breakable things!
Other nice packing materials:
— local newspaper sections (homesick babies read these)
bags of chips (the ones with lots of air in them)
and sanitary products
(sounds strange, but these are EXPENSIVE and are appreciated).
More GREAT ideas from our brilliant readers:
Favorite snack foods
Lynn @MamaSays, says (from the comments below): A cookbook aimed at new cooks, some essential spices
Melissa suggests (from the comments below): Kites (for spring) and the little guns that shoot nerf-type balls. Stress relievers!
TSogge says (from the comments below): Couple pairs of new underwear!
More ideas from Your GypsyNesters:
The Boy uses his conch shell horn
at a football game!
Toiletries: Shampoo, creams and potions, deodorant, contact lens solution,
special soap, acne lotion, perfume — that kind of stuff. The
Boy got toilet paper this time. He and his roommates can’t seem
to keep it in stock. We sent it as a joke, but I’m sure it will
be put to use.
for their computer: Print cartridges, computer paper,
Pics from Home: Stick ’em in a frame if you are feeling
fancy. Or not. They’ll love ’em either way.
you send enough food to share: College kids are ravenous wolves.
No better way to make a new friend than to share a cookie or two.
YOUR TURN: Any ideas to share? Let’s brainstorm and come up with ideas for our newly “empty” nested friends!