Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Advent Calendar Care Packages

Care packages: I love them. Both getting them from people and sending them to people. What makes them even more fun is when you have some awesome friends - or an even more awesome twin sister - who just as thoroughly enjoy gathering care package goodies and shipping them off at random intervals for no particularly good reason other than to say, "hey. Remember me? I like you."

So last year, when I hopped on the homemade advent calendar bandwagon, I knew two pleased-as-punch recipients would be Natalie and Liz in the US (since they like ridiculously useless things as much as I do and are super easy to shop for) and decided to give myself the challenge of putting together a shippable advent calendar that had a weight and size limit.* Here's how I went about it.

Step 1: Collect a bunch of ridiculous things (and some practical ones). The grocery store, the 1-euro shop, and the drugstore are my sources of choice, but you could obviously go classier if that's how your friends roll. ;)

 Items included: Cheesy chocolate advent calendars (you have no idea how embarassed I was when purchasing that Sexy Xmas! one at our local grocery store...), glow-in-the-dark cups and straws, drinking-straw glasses, Spongebob paper streamers, 2012 paper glasses (to wear on New Year's Eve), gl├╝hwein spice packets, hot-chocolate bars, mini cheese grater, mini face cream, mini deep conditioner, gold eyeliner, Labello lip gloss, tiny notepad, colorful sugar packets, and an assortment of their favorite German candies.

Step 2: Gather your supplies. Simple is good, especially if you already have a lot of packing and gift-wrapping material lying around. I went with craft paper and gold tissue paper for wrapping, red twine (a last minute switch), and holiday-colored washi tape.

Step 3: Include items to hang the tiny packages up with. I like mini things, but the wee clothespins I had were a bit boring, so I spiced them up with some gold glitter, cuz you can never have too much glitter.

Hint! If you paint over the glitter after it's done drying with clear nail polish, it won't come off all over the place!

Step 4: Wrap your goodies individually and include little personal notes on each one. Such as "Sister, here's some cuticle remover since I know how much you hate cuticles!" or "Liz, I think your life will be more complete now with these mustaches."

Hint! Make the bows on each present long enough so that they can be hung up. And also don't forget to include extra twine or string/yarn/garland of sorts for hanging and numbers for putting the presents in order (I wrote small numbers on the wrap and printed out prettier letters to be hung from the clothespin with the corresponding present).

Step 5: Box it up and ship it! And don't forget to decorate the package with plenty of confetti, tissue paper, and more little notes. (I shipped these last year on November 23 and they, very very sadly, did not arrive until mid-January. SO SHIP REALLY REALLY EARLY.**)

And here's how they looked after finally arriving at their destinations. Yes, Nat and Liz each merrily hung up and opened their advent calendars daily in January. Which is why they rock.

Nat's sparkly package on the left | Liz's hanging calendar on the right

*Note: this year I'm even wiser and have discovered that if you can fit all your stuff in a large (like 60 x 30 cm) padded envelope, it will 1) cost you almost nothing: 3.45€ for up to 500g, 7€ for up to 1kg, and 16.90€ for up to 2kg, and 2) be sent by priority air mail to arrive in the US in 3-5 days. (This is all from Germany, of course.) LESSON LEARNED.

**Or forego the box and use a padded envelope instead. Or two. Or three. Still cheaper and quicker than the box! (You can ship it this week and it'll still likely make it there for Christmas. My advice only working from Germany to the US again.)

Update: This, apparently, does not work in the US, as sadly confirmed by sister today when she found out that her padded envelope package to me cost $8 more than boxes usually do! Boooo, US postal service!

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