Saturday, June 6, 2009

Travel Card Care Package

Today's idea is not precisely about stocking stuffers, but I think it falls into the "thoughtful small gift" arena, and it's an idea I came up with myself and am proud of, so I'm including it!

My husband travels for work. A lot. So several years ago, I decided I would make up a little travel card care package for him so he would know I was thinking about him while he was gone. I went to Office Max and purchased a blue accordion file pocket envelope with a fold-over flap. I admit it took some time to find exactly what I wanted: it's about 7.5 x 9.5 inches, so not too large, and it has exactly seven pockets = one for each day of the week. The interior pockets were actually labeled alphabetically and monthly, but I used my handy Dymo Labelwriter (which I highly recommend, by the way) to create labels for each day of the week. For the outside, I made up a label like the one you see above. Years later, this poor file envelope is battered and faded, and one of our cats helpfully (not!) chewed off the attached elastic band that held it closed, but it still does what I need it to do, so it remains in faithful service to this day.

So what am I actually doing with this thing? For each day that my husband will be away, I prepare a card or a note of some kind and label its envelope with the date it is to be opened, then I stick it under the proper weekday in the accordion file envelope. If my husband will be gone for more than a week, the Tuesday slot might have two cards, for instance, but one will be labeled June 2 and behind it will be the June 9 envelope. I think the longest trip that I did this for was just under three weeks.

The important thing is that this does not have to cost a lot of money! Maybe I'm the only one, but over the years I've accumulated a ton of mismatched envelopes that may have come from Christmas card or note card assortments. Into these I can put a handwritten note, or even a funny cartoon I've clipped from the Sunday paper that seems especially appropriate for him, or for us as a couple. I also pick up the little tiny gift enclosure cards once in a while, and of course I do sometimes see a full-priced greeting card that I just have to get because it's perfect for some reason. I also take advantage of after-holiday sales -- if he's going on a business trip in October or December, I'll often use an assortment of Halloween or Christmas cards that I got very inexpensively.

See how creative you can be! One time when I knew he would have Internet access for the entire trip, I made little personal web pages on my own website that had no external links, so nobody could get to them unless I personally provided the entire URL -- which I did in each day's little envelope within the care package. If web pages are not your thing, you can cut pictures out from magazines, or put in some photos of your kids or pets. CVS and Walgreen's often have deals where you can get ten or more photo prints for free.

I know my husband really appreciates the thought that goes into these care packages. They would also work great for a child going away for a week at camp, or away for the holidays to the other parent in the case of a joint custody situation. It's a great and inexpensive way to let your loved one know you're thinking of them every single day, and it will bring a smile to their face each day as they think of you.

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