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*Disclaimer: I’ve been waiting to post this until I knew my friend had opened the care package, as I didn’t want to take the chance she would see this.

It’s always nice to be a fun and caring friend.

That being said, a friend of mine is embarking on a study abroad program to Grenable, France from August 2015 to June 2016. I’m going to miss her to pieces as will the other two people in our immediate friend group and I decided to make sure she never forgets any of us.

So my friends and I brainstormed a care package and I put it all together.

I had no plans to post about it seeing as this was between the four of us and not for the purpose of being something put up on the interwebs but during the brainstorming phase I had a hard time finding good ideas on the web. I wanted to give people a look at something you can put together, and not break your already fragile wallet, that your friend will not only appreciate but also get great use out of.

At first, this was supposed to be more of a “Things you probably over looked when packing” box but it morphed into a practical and personal care package. A small note to start: all of these items fit into a Recollections Memory Box that can be picked up at Michael’s craft stores for $4-$6.

1.A jump drive
I bought a 16 GB jump drive while doing my back to school shopping and put some music and videos on it for my friend’s viewing and listening pleasure. I separated everything into folders because some of the videos were meant only for when she missed home i.e. Pure Michigan ads I saved from YouTube. For the music, I just took from my iTunes songs I figured she had never heard because where’s the fun in listening to a secret jump drive if you know all the tunes?

A screenshot of some of the songs that made it on the jump drive.

A screenshot of some of the songs that made it on the jump drive.

I am a knitter and I’m not ashamed. I love to make scarves and have a box full of them seeing as I don’t sell them but continue to make them; let’s just say Christmas is a cakewalk for me. Because she’ll be in a region of France that does get a cold winter, though nowhere near as cold as Michigan, I put in one warm infinity scarf that I finger knitted (if you don’t know what that is click here) and one fashion black lace scarf. Putting in the scarves added practicality and a personal touch seeing as I made them myself.

This is one of the more practical parts of the care package. All of the following are travel size items: shampoo, conditioner, make-up remover wipes, bottle of hand sanitizer three packs of Kleenex and a first aid kit. Mostly we just wanted to make sure she had some basic supplies until she settles in especially seeing as she goes to Paris first for a few days and then she goes to her host family. The first aid kit was more because you can never be too prepared and it was tiny.

4.A Notebook
It’s the size of a Composition notebook and the same brand but it’s a more plastic-like cover rather than the cardboard because we needed it to be flexible enough to fit in the box. It could be a travel journal, school notebook, planner, etc.

You can never have too many pens, especially when you’re in college. Enough said.

6.Sony Headphones
If you’re like me and go through headphones like a runner goes through socks (what can I say? I like my music loud) then having a spare set is always necessary. I’ve been using Sony ear buds since I my first iPod’s headphones crapped out back in 2007. They are on the cheap side ($10) and the sound is great seeing as I normally go through them every six-nine months.

We all get sick at some point during a year time span so of course I included her preferred brand of cough drops. Fun fact: I sent her a very odd Facebook message in order to find out her preferences for certain things I wanted to include such as “Halls or Ricola?” and “EOS or Burt’s Bees?” which leads us to the next items.

8.Burt’s Bees Lip Balm
I love this stuff and have a tube hidden in all my purses. She preferred Burt’s Bees over EOS so I stuck two tubes of the beeswax lip balm into the box. Not going to lie, I was tempted to keep them.

9.Basic School Supplies
Glue sticks, notecards, pack of paperclips, a Post-It cube, crayons (Crayola because they are our childhood), Wite-Out and tape because let’s face it, she probably forgot the basic stuff when worrying about her laptop, charger, clothes, and Nintendo DS.

10.Peanut Butter-y Goodness
She had done a six week program in May and June 2015 so she had an idea about the snack situation in France. Being from the United States, we have a lot of different chocolate, nutty, delicious candies. I had asked if there was any candy, in general, that she couldn’t get in France that she loved and she said mostly it was anything that had peanut butter in them. As a disclaimer, I would like to point out she wasn’t saying you can’t buy peanut butter items anywhere in France but it just wasn’t common. To solve said problem I bought a bag of peanut butter M&Ms and a bag of Reese’s Miniature cups (Not the newer super small ones but the ones individually wrapped and the circumference is close the size of a quarter) and we plan to send her more Reese’s as the year goes on because we’re good friends.

Nothing says we love you like taking the time to make something from scratch. I handmade a bookmark that she could use for textbooks, notebooks or novels.

And there you have it! A care package for someone going to France for nearly an entire year. One thing to keep in mind is how they are traveling. I asked multiple times if she would be putting the box into her checked or carry-on luggage because that makes a huge difference in what you can and cannot put into the package. Even though I know she was putting it into her checked luggage, I still tried keeping all liquids until 3oz and nothing too suspicious which is why I didn’t buy green tea in a thin plastic tube at the Michigan Renaissance Festival due to its’ physical similarity to marijuana. I didn’t want her bag to get riffled through and that box, which is sealed with packing tape, to get broke open.