Christmas Care Package

So I made it through the holidays and I’m finally writing a long-overdue blog post. December is my busiest Etsy sales month (and this year was my best year total – I finally made a goal and beat it!). It also includes my husband’s birthday, our anniversary, and Christmas. He’s deployed, so this holiday season was pretty depressing, besides the usual stress (of course, I really appreciate certain people who made it suck less, despite hardships of their own).

But I’m here to share a fun way to make the best of it – epic care packages! I wanted to wait until he got this one and not ruin any surprises. My last post was about his birthday care package; now I’m going to share his Christmas one.

You have to get creative with the decorations when it comes to fitting Christmas in a box. I went to several stores to find just the right tiny tree, and got a mini stocking. I wrapped a small, fun present (didn’t want to send anything nice unless he could use it) and wrote in a card. Then I filled the rest with snacks – popcorn, homemade gingerbread men & fudge, hot chocolate & apple cider mixes (I added a couple things and rearranged after I took the picture).

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For packing, I opened the boxes of individually wrapped items (popcorn, drink mixes) and spread them throughout the package, then put the homemade items inside the empty boxes. I wrapped the tree in bubble wrap and put some extra on the top & bottom. And I finished the outside with festive drawings (not my best work cause they are going to get thrown away, but I did use my good markers 😉 ).

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There are lots of other ideas out there – wrapping the inside of the box, writing puns on everything – just check Pinterest! But this is how I did it this year and, although it was late, my husband really enjoyed his box. So I hope this gives you some inspiration, and feel free to share your own ideas in the comments!

Carrot Cake in a Jar Recipe & Birthday Care Package

One of the most depressing things about deployment is spending special occasions apart. I mean it’s one of many things that suck, but special days always remind you of who you want to be with most, and sometimes you just can’t.

But, one of my favorite ways of dealing with that has always been making epic care packages. I’ve sent many, but I didn’t have a blog during our last two deployments. And this time he left right before his birthday and the holidays and our anniversary. Yay military life! But at least I will have lots of ideas to share.

Joe, like my brother, always likes carrot cake for his birthday. So I’ve made many of those as well, and even mailed one before, each layer in a ziploc bag, with store-bought frosting. This time he told me it might take even longer for mail to arrive, so I wanted to try the jar cake thing I’d been hearing about.

I read mixed opinions about whether or not it works and, never having tried any kind of canning by myself, I didn’t want to send him an experiment that might go wrong. So I ended up mailing the the cake the usual way and making a little jar cake for myself, to eat pathetically by myself on his birthday and see if it worked.

Mail was relatively quick this time and both cakes turned out fine. I didn’t hear the “pop” with mine, but I could tell the lid had sealed because there was no room for it to move when poked – and it was pretty hard to get off 3 weeks later! The only thing I would do differently is use a smaller jar so it would bake more evenly. And make better frosting, but that can’t really be helped.

So, without further ado, here is a link to the cake-in-a-jar instructions and the carrot cake recipe I used. You can, of course, make any kind of cake, or even use a mix. Personally I’ve always been a fan of homemade, especially when it’s for someone special!

Carrot Cake Recipe

Cake in a Jar Instructions

I boxed up the cake with frosting, party plates, etc, candles, a card, and some other stuff he’d asked for, and ordered his actual gift online. FYI, for Crossfitter soldiers, Rogue Fitness has a website just for mailing to APO addresses.

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I kinda forgot to take pictures so these ones are old, but you get the idea!
I hope this is helpful for any far-off loved ones you may have, military or otherwise. Stay tuned for Christmas care package ideas!