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The gift-giver’s guide to care packages

We are Frances and Clare, two sisters and best friends, and care packages are our love language! Frances carries the cross of infertility and loss; Clare is a mother of three. Whilst we can’t always relate personally to each other’s struggles and life events, we have enjoyed sending each other care packages through the years as a way of showing we care and want to support each other. We’ve also collaborated on putting together various care packages for friends and relatives and have received a fair few ourselves. In this blog post we’re sharing our top tips and 10 lists of ideas in case you’d like to send a friend some happy mail too!

Our top tips for creating a care package

  • We always include a card with a thoughtful message and some explanation of the items in the package. If there’s a theme to the package, we’ll introduce it here.

  • We like to include useful items as well as frivolous ones. Think about any particular struggles your friend has mentioned to you recently and how they could be remedied in a practical way. (Has your pregnant friend complained of heartburn? Has your friend who experiences infertility started a new diet to help with fertility treatments?) This is a good way to show that you have heard them and care about their cross.

  • It’s always fun to include a treat or two!

  • The items you collect might be a bit miscellaneous but if you wrap them in matching tissue paper and add little gift tags, it’ll look more cohesive and thought-out.

  • Adding pretty stickers or tape to the outside of the package also makes it look fun when it arrives at their door.

  • You might time a care package to correspond with a particular event, such as a surgery, an anniversary or family sickness, but sometimes it’s nice to send a care package out of the blue to let someone know you are thinking of them often.

Infertility care packages

Here are some examples of kinds of care packages you could send to someone experiencing infertility, with suggestions for what to include.

Time-of-the-month package

For a while, Frances had a “Cheer up box”, where she would stash away items that would cheer her and her husband up, which they would open each month when her period arrived. Clare put together a care package of items to restock the box. If your friend doesn’t yet have a cheer up box, you could make them one!

  • A pretty box

  • Comforting hot drinks - hot chocolate sachets or soothing tea infusions 

  • Gifts for relaxing - wax candles, bath bombs, face masks

  • Little distractions - craft items or trivia

NaPro care package

Starting NaPro or other fertility treatments can be a big milestone and an all-consuming new chapter. Show your friend you care by sending items that they’ll use over and over throughout this lengthy process.

  • Container for organizing pills

  • CD of prayerful music

  • Reach out to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St Gianna and request a holy card

  • Plush/peg doll/Shining Light St Gianna

  • Gluten-free/dairy free snacks and treats to have as a reward after bloodwork appointments (adapt as per her dietary requirements)

  • A collection of recipes which meet any restrictive new dietary requirements

Surgery care package

Even if you don’t live close enough to your friend to offer practical support after surgery, sending some thoughtful items for their hospital bag and recovery time is one way you can be there for them.

Miscarriage care package

It can be so hard to know what to say when your friend has experienced a loss. Any small gift will mean a lot and make their little one’s presence visible in their home.

Pregnancy after loss care package

You could take inspiration from any of the packages in the next section of this blog post but these next items will show that you understand pregnancy after loss involves grief as well as joy.

  • Have a Mass offered for their intentions

  • Pledge to pray or fast for them on days of appointments or scan they are nervous about

  • Pregnancy after loss affirmation cards

  • Pregnancy keepsake journal

  • Rainbow keyring

Pregnancy care packages

We have sometimes sent one care package per trimester and made the contents relevant to that stage of pregnancy, depending on how it’s going for them. Here are some ideas for each stage.

Package for any stage of pregnancy

  • Have a Mass offered for their intentions

  • A magazine or book

  • Puzzle book

  • Face masks

  • Sachets of hot chocolate or other caffeine-free beverages, such as sleepy time tea or wake-up tea, depending how they’re finding sleep at this stage of pregnancy!

  • Baby-themed treats (eg. Jelly Babies, Sour Patch Kids, milk bottles, Sugar Babies, Cry Babies, Baby Ruth, Baby Bottle Pops)

  • Heartburn tablets/remedies

First trimester care package

  • Something creative (eg. coloring pages) to do if they’re sick and gloomy

  • A pregnancy journal (there are lots of sweet options to buy but you could make your own by writing headings in a beautiful notepad for a personalized option)

  • Stickers and washi tape for use in the journal, and photo paper for printing weekly bump pictures

  • Their favorite snack for when the cravings kick in

  • Bump stickers for pregnancy milestone photos

  • Cold water infusions for if they go off hot drinks or can’t stomach any more juice/squash/cordial

Second trimester care package

  • A personalized sign to count down the weeks until baby arrives

  • A photo frame for ultrasound images

  • Stretch mark cream or moisturizer

  • A baby-themed cookie cutter (especially if they are having a baby shower)

  • An expectant Dad handbook

  • Reach out to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Relics of St Gianna and request a holy card

Third trimester care package

  • Baby sleepsuits

  • A baby blanket to pre-cuddle so that it smells like mom

  • Relaxing bath soak or bath salts to soothe aches and pains

  • A children’s book about the arrival of a new sibling (if they have a child already) 

  • Pledge to pray a novena leading up to the due date

  • A voucher for a coffee shop to sneak in some 'me time' or catch up with a friend before baby takes over

  • Bits and bobs for when the baby is born - pink and blue balloons, an inkless hand and footprint kit, a voucher for a takeaway from a local restaurant

  • Some relaxing music

Postpartum care package

  • Baby milestone cards

  • Vouchers or gift cards for a meal service if you don’t live close enough to take her a meal

  • Disposable plates, cutlery and napkins to use with gifted meals

  • If she is breastfeeding her baby: nursing-friendly snacks

  • If she is breastfeeding her baby: a prayer card or gift relating to Our Lady of La Leche

  • If her baby is spending time in the NICU: bonding squares for mother and baby (you can make some by hand or find them on Etsy)

More ways to support each other

If you want to read more about supporting each other on different paths, check out our blog post “Ice cream and French fries: how infertile and fertile women can bring out the best in each other” by another best friend duo, Emily Frase and Mary Bruno.

If you would like to send a care package but compiling one yourself isn’t your thing, take a look at The Loveliest Masterpiece. This Catholic business creates beautifully curated care packages for various stages of motherhood, including: The Bearing Fruit Box (infertility), Our Lady of Hope Box (bereavement), The Gianna Box (expectant mama), The Zelie Box (labor and delivery), Our Lady of Guadalupe Shower of Roses Box (postpartum), Our Lady of La Leche Box (nursing), The Martha Box (busy mama). Please note that they only ship to the USA.

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