Sending presents via post this year? These add-ons will make them that much more special.

By Blythe Copeland
November 12, 2020
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woman wrapping holiday gift
Credit: Nina Vartanava / EyeEm / Getty Images

Simply getting your gifts in the mail in time for the holidays may feel like an accomplishment, but setting aside time before you drop them at the post office to customize the wrapping paper, add small, unexpected treats, or include a sentimental component helps make the holidays feel even more special. This is especially true if you and your loved ones can't celebrate in-person this year. "Adding in small items and touches is definitely worth the time and effort because those touches are making up for a lack of physical presence—bringing the giver a little bit closer to the recipient," says Vivienne Anthon of The Daily Wrap. "To me the perfect add-in is thoughtful, festive, functional, and flat, so that it can easily be posted without extra hassle or cost—and festive and useful in its own right." Here, several ways to elevate mailed gifts with these little extras.

Send treats for the kitchen.

Make the holidays extra sweet by adding packages of hot cocoa mix or spiced cider, suggests Virginia Frischkorn of Bluebird Productions, or by including your famous homemade sugar cookies, a packet of locally-sourced chocolates, or homemade rosemary salt made with herbs from your garden. (Choose brown paper seed packets, miniature plastic test tubes, or plastic cone-shaped bags—tied with a festive ribbon—for lightweight packaging.) Frischkorn also likes included holiday spice sachets: "We love filling a muslin baggie or cello bag with cinnamon, cloves, dried oranges, star anise, ginger and more," she says. "Add a note with 'Just add water and boil' to offer guidance." Anthon suggests sending local honey tied with a wooden dipper, or a new kitchen towel secured to an olivewood cooking spoon.

Opt for something sentimental.

Elevate your store-bought gift by adding priceless personal items: Photos of your family celebrating together on past holidays, a thoughtful letter telling the recipient what you love about them, or one-of-a-kind artwork from your kids. "Include or tie in a photo of the gift being wrapped—this is lovely to do with children," says Anthon. "Take a picture of them wrapping the gift and print out to use as a tag or to pop inside the mailer. An absolute favorite!" She also likes sending homemade bookmarks or art prints highlighting your loved ones' favorite quotes, writing custom messages on potpourri flakes in the box, or sending a calendar made with family photos. "This isn't linked to the dollars spent," says Anthon. "It is saying, I am thinking of you and I want you to be happy during the holidays."

Make it fun—or practical.

Small, flat stocking stuffers are easy to mail—and don't requiring a ton of extra cost or packaging—and fun for the young (and young-at-heart) family members on your list. Anthon recommends interlocking wire brainteasers or jigsaw puzzles, sticker sheets, and novelty pencils, like the Workplace Shenanigans set ($12, designworksink.com) which includes too-familiar corporate references like "Let's have a meeting about a meeting." Miniature eyeglass kits, pint-sized password keeper notebooks, and a multi-tool pen with a level and screwdriver ($18, designworksink.com) also make for a happy surprise.

Customize your wrapping.

"If it's not practical to add extra items," says Anthon, "you can upgrade or personalize the gift wrapping to make the present feel more special." She recommends picking out wrapping paper in the recipient's favorite team or school colors, letting the kids decorate the wrapped gift with drawings and stickers, or printing out the words or sheet music of a favorite song to use as paper. Frischkorn also likes adding an olfactory element: "We love scenting ribbon or packaging to add another dimension to the experience," she says. "A touch of an essential oil to the paper or ribbon will add an unexpected surprise."

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