Thoughtful Thanksgiving Care Package Ideas

The best way to show someone you can’t be with at Thanksgiving dinner this year that they’re loved and missed is to pull together a very thoughtful Thanksgiving care package.

Thanksgiving care package ideas, a basket full of snacks for a movie theme gift.

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What is a Thanksgiving Care Package?

When I think of a Thanksgiving care package the first thing that comes to mind is fall favorites like hot cocoa and apple cider. But one traditional thing that’s present for every major holiday (and every other excuse we can make to drink it) is sparkling apple cider.

A care package is simply a package full of thanksgiving treats, special personalized items that show how much you know your loved one, and the comforts of home.

Keep reading for ideas for the best items to include to make the most fun care package that’s sure to be a huge hit!

Thanksgiving Care Packages Make Great Gift Ideas

Whether it’s for a family member, a child away at college, or a service member away from home, Thanksgiving Care packages are thoughtful gifts to give. The best thanksgiving gifts aren’t the most expensive, but things of comfort.

Putting thought into what kind of Thanksgiving care kit you’ll create will make it extremely meaningful for the receiver.

Who Would Really Benefit from a Thanksgiving Care Package?

Although everyone loves gifts at literally any time of year, there are a few people in your life that might appreciate them more than others.

  • Military Members
  • An Elderly Family Member especially in a care facility or too far away to attend Thanksgiving dinner
  • College Student
  • Best Friends
  • Hostess Gifts
  • Newly Weds or New Parents
A basket full of snack foods from the Dollar Tree to make up a Thanksgiving care package themed for a movie night.

8 Types of Thanksgiving Care Packages to put Together

This is the creative part where it gets really fun. I absolutely love pulling together “themed” boxes for gifts for all occasions. But what’s better is when you know a person well enough to know their likes, dislikes, and even what brings them comfort.

1. Themed Care Package

  1. Movie Box a favorite movie, microwavable popcorn, hot cocoa packets, delicious treats for the sweet tooth, and a 2 liter of soda
  2. Thanksgiving Treats with all the popular and favorite treats that only happen this time of year.
  3. Everything Pumpkin is a no-brainer, Pumpkin Spice Latte mix, Mini pumpkin pies, Pumpkin Muffins, etc.

What theme can you come up with? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

2. Thanksgiving Food Basket

If food is a love language I’m here for it. Thanksgiving is one of those times of the year when the best comfort foods appear by the bushel. Let’s take advantage of that and gift a favorite person or a person in need a Thanksgiving feast.

An iconic Thanksgiving Dinner in a Box Ideas

  • A Pie Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie (Mini versions for traveling in the mail)
  • Mashed Potatoes Include a box of flake mashed potatoes and Gravy Packets
  • Stuffing A Box of Stuffing and Dehydrated Veggies*
  • Canned Food Corn, Yams, Cranberries, and Green Beans
  • Drinks Bags of Tea, Hot Cocoa, or Apple Cider Packets
  • Milk Shelf-Stable Almond, Rice, or Soy Milk.
  • Soup Canned Soup like Mushroom or Cream of Chicken
  • Corn Bread Cornbread Mix

Note: There is any number of ways to personalize this, use your creativity and think outside the “box”.

3. Military Care Package

Whether you personally know a United States service member of the armed forces doesn’t matter. Putting together care packages for military personnel who may be away from family for Thanksgiving is thoughtful and kind.

There are some things to take into consideration if it is a loved one currently on deployment or if they’re still in boot camp. So, use your best judgment in choosing the contents. But here are some great ideas a service member may appreciate.

A Thanksgiving Care Package for Military Deployed

  • For the Feet High-Quality Socks, Foot Powder
  • Soap shampoo, body wash, face wash, etc
  • Tooth Care Toothpaste, Toothbrush, and Floss
  • Deodorant Travel size/Non-Aerosol
  • Lip balm
  • Baby Wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Pain-Relieving Topical Cream*
  • Vicks VapoRub
  • Hand Warmers
  • Sewing Kits
  • Lens Cleaning Cloths and Glass Cleaning Cloths


These are just some great ideas about practical and luxury needs for a deployed service member.

A Thanksgiving Care Package for Military At Home

If you’re making care packages for a service member currently stationed at home you can pick any of the other versions appropriate to your budget. Or go one step further and invite them into your home this Thanksgiving to eat with your family.

My family did this for a couple of years for Thanksgiving when I was a child and they were definitely the most enjoyable and memorable meals of my life.

4. An Elderly Loved One or Family Member

It’s a sad truth that many of us will have a loved one or family member who either cannot attend Thanksgiving or is in a care facility or hospital this year. In fact, your family member may or may not be elderly. But I chose to focus on the elderly specifically as I think they’re all too often displaced during holidays.

A Thanksgiving Care Package Built for Love

  • For the Brain Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku Puzzles, Word Find, Jigsaw Puzzles
  • For Creativity Adult coloring books, Colored Pencils, Markers, Cross-Stitch Patterns (and supplies), Crochet or Knitting Supplies
  • To Read Books, Magazines, and Family Scrapbook Albums with Memories written in
  • For Fun A Deck of Cards or a Favorite Game
  • For Entertainment A Netflix, Amazon, or other Movie/TV Subscription
  • A Personal Touch Updated photos of family and a thoughtful note

Note: Each situation will be different, but if you can a few Thanksgiving treats are a sweet gift and great addition. Especially if they’re a favorite or homemade snack.

5. College Care Packages Students Away

The best Thanksgiving gift baskets when you’re living in a dorm room are all about convenience and special surprises that remind you of the comforts of home. It’s hard when you’re away from the whole family and left out of the typical Thanksgiving gathering.

These ideas are a great way to give your college kid a happy fall experience!

Great Options for a College Student

  • Gift Card A Restaurant for Thanksgiving Dinner, Coffee Shop, Target, etc.
  • Sweet Treats Candy Corn, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Any Easy Snack
  • Savory Snacks Hickory Farms Gourmet Meat, Chips, Pretzels, Microwave Popcorn, etc.
  • A Precooked Meal for Thanksgiving Day
  • Comfort Items Lip Balm, Cozie Socks, Throw Blanket, Scented Candle, etc.
  • Entertainment A Favorite DVD
  • Holiday Decorations Window Clings, Thanksgiving Bunting, etc.
  • A Mug and Drink Mix Like Hot Cocoa and Marshmallows or Apple Cider

6. Fun Care Package for Best Friends

This is your perfect opportunity to create an inside joke care package and share some laughs this Thanksgiving. If I was sending one to my childhood friends it would have to be Backstreet Boy themed and may include their new Christmas album.

A Care Package Worthy of a Best Friend Should Include

If you’re feeling generous and are to afford the extra cost thrift a beautiful basket and curate a package worthy of your bestie. Or for a low-budget gift pick a favorite and write a thoughtful note. Both options are wonderful ways to celebrate your friendship this “Friendsgiving”.

  • Hilarious Mug “The Tears of my Enemies”
  • An Inappropriately Hilarious Greeting Card
  • Friendsgiving T-Shirt this turkey “friends giving” t-shirt would be amazing.
  • A Gift Card to Starbucks, Target, TJ Maxx, Dunkin Donuts, and a Spa (would be amazing) or a Gift Certificate to a few local favorite shops or thrift stores!
  • Fall Scarf Who doesn’t love a warm scarf when it starts to get cold + plaid
  • Thanksgiving Treats Cookies, Muffins, Pie, or a favorite Candy (Homemade is extra special, but storebought is appreciated too!)

7. Hostess Gifts

The Thanksgiving holiday season is the perfect time to add a personal touch of appreciation for the hostess. Being a hostess or host takes a lot of time and effort and having a small Thanksgiving care package put together is the perfect gift.

What is an Appropriate Hostess Gift?

You may think a Thanksgiving care package means a basket full of gifts. However, a single item in a gift box or topped with a bow and a thoughtful note is a great idea.

8. Thanksgiving Blessing Bags

These are different kinds of care kits because you can hand these out in person! Blessing Bags are Thanksgiving Care Packages that are meant for handing out to the homeless and those less fortunate.

Simple Blessing Bag Ideas

It’s a good idea to start with a reusable bag of some sort, a backpack, a knapsack, or a simple plastic bag like a Ziploc bag.

  • Breakfast Options Juice, Oatmeal, Granola Bar, Raisins, Nuts (Optional)
  • Snack Options Dried fruit, Granola Bar, Drink Mix Packets, Cheese Sticks, Crackers, Mints, Bottled Water, Fruit Snacks
  • Foot Care Options Socks, Lotion, Foot Massager, Pumice Stone, Toe Nail Polish*
  • Cold Weather Options Hat, Scarf, Isotoner Gloves, Hand Warmer Packets, Chapstick, Vaseline
  • Personal Care Options Lotion, Lip Balm, Razor, Wash Cloth, Candy, Body Spray, Deodorant, Bar of Soap, and Makeup*


Note: A gift card to a coffee shop or fast food restaurant is a helpful optional addition. This will allow them the kindness of a hot drink or meal of their choice, get out of any bad weather, and the ability to use a restroom.

Thanksgiving Care Package in the Mail or in-Person Alterations

If you’re not able to personally deliver your package and it has to be handled by the postal service you will need to account for that. Certain items cannot go in the mail and some won’t travel well. Use your best judgment and call and ask your local Post Office or UPS beforehand.

Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope I have given you some inspiration, ideas for creativity, and maybe a push to start creating your own wonderland one piece or project at a time.

Don’t forget to come back for more great projects like these DIY Projects and many more!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→

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