"What do I send?" A novel, by Holly Robinson

ok. So there's this boy.
just kidding. there's no boy. I don't know how to start this. ok, I'm not gonna try and be creative.
I'm just gonna dive in.

Boys are easy to shop for, how do I know that? because I always find AWESOME things to buy for the boyfriend that I don't have.
 but MISSIONARIES. now they are a different story. This area of gift-buying is a little bit more tricky, because of rules and considering how they have to pack up every couple months, etc.

WARNING: I don't have "a missionary" and I never had. (If you hear me refer to Allen, just know that he is a good friend that I'm writing!) but I've had friends leave, and I've had girl friends say goodbye to their men. So I'd say I'm experienced through the grape-vine.

My friend at school (and from life because I've known her since she was born) asked me to, in all of my free time, search the net for stuff to put in missionary packages, and I was like, OK SINCE I LOVE YOU I'LL DO IT.
So since then, I've been getting input from social media pals and neighbors.

one thing before we start...
It does greatly make a difference if the recipient is an MTC-dweller, State-sider, or Internationaler. (like that?)
I will try my best not to make this worthless and boring to read. I hope I can help a sista out!
So here is what my brilliant amigos have come up with:

What to send:
1. Ties. OBVIOUSLY. let's just get that outta the way right now. I mean, sure they might have more ties than they do shoes, pants, and shirts combine, but um, like I care. They probably get sick of the same 30 ties, so go to Etsy RIGHT NOW, fork up the money, and buy a couple snazzy ties. Also, Maceys Grocery store has cheap cheap cheap ties, and they are PRETTY dang good looking. Also Savers has spazzy ones, and pfft. ANTIQUE STORES. why not? (this is not from any sort of missionary, this is my own mind, and no one can change it. I love ties)

2. Socks. My neighbor just got back from a mission, and his mom told me that he LOOOVED socks so much, she would just send some with every package. Who doesn't love a fresh new pair of socks? I think they probs have to be black.

3. FOOOOOD. my dears. this is something you need to know for life. boys love food. well, PEOPLE love food. after you've put the big things in the package, fill the empty spaces with candy.
A few friends with international Buddhist excursion experiences say go with Ranch Dressing (who doesn't love a good dollop of ranch on anything?) and anything peanutbutter. (do they lack in the PB department overseas?) WARNING: this is expensive.
I'm about to send off a package to Pedro of nothing but Cereal. Missionaries don't wanna spend money on the pricey (good) cereal, so send em some Reeses Puffs for heavens sake!
But really. anything. Just fill that box to the top with grub. they will be SO HAPPY.

4. "TREAT YOSELF" money. Missionaries are the most unselfish people you'll ever know, so send them some money TO BE SELFISH. attach a note to a nice little wad of cash (I'm talkin' like $10-20) that instructs them ONLY to spend this on junk food or something.

5. Go to town at the dollar section at Target. I'm sure missionaries won't hate you for sending something they have to pack, but it's a hassle. Bubbles, play-dough, fake mustaches, light-up ties, wonky, random little toys that they can throw away after a while. (and leave them a note that says "you can throw this away if you don't wanna pack it away with your next transfer.)

6. Wishbones. that's just darn cute. I mean, not common. but I think that was a brilliant moment of mine.

7. If you're OK spending a little bit more money, for Christmas last year I got my pals Moccasins! They LOVED them. When my neighbor Cole got home, we went to Target and we realized he was wearing the ones I had given him last year! everyone needs shoes they can slip on on P-days and to go check the mail so their tootsies don't freeze.

8. Things for Kids. Small things amuse them, it's true! Jessy went and got a bunch of those cheap green CTR rings to hand out to kids! BRILLIANT.  Pictures of Jesus, bookmarks, stickers, treats, anything they can give away! Kids will LOVE THEM.

9.  Notes from friends. Make a public announcement that you are sending so-and-so a package, and anyone who wants to add a letter or note can! There are always friends who love the guy or girl, but don't get around to writing that often, so collect some love and throw it in there!

10. If they are in a close-by state, cookies or treats will occasionally work out! and Scotch-a-roos! (Of course I have it easy over here with Mr. Colorado.)

11. If they are in an area where the cold winds come 'a blowin, find a nice manly scarf or hat or mittens! Old Navy has decently-priced things like that for guys.

12. PICTURES. we love them, so they love them too!

13. Gift Cards. if they are state-side, Walmart gift cards are gold! You can also get fast-food gift cards! Brilliant. A missionary in my ward is in  New York, and he said it's cheaper to go out to eat, than to cook your own meal up in there.

14. I've just been informed pop tarts and wheat things are crucial in the food category.

15. Hot Chocolate too. that's me though. OH. Introduce them to the "Tim-Tam Slam"... look it up and it will change your life.

16. Chapstick is someone EVERYONE needs. if you're really nice and want to make an impression *wink wink* you'll send Burts Bee's, because that stuff is miraculous.

17. (if you are going for an actual gift) Go to Paper Coterie dot com, and MAKE THEM A JOURNAL. seriously, brilliant and pretty cheap! If you want to personalize one, but don't want to do the work, know that I am a NERD for that stuff, and I'll do it for you!

18. THIS JUST IN. A magnet with your face on it. bloody brilliant.

19. Office supplies. Post-its, highlighters, notebooks, etc. They'll always need paper!

20. Mormon Ads! those little card things. RIGHT? Go to Deseret Book and pick up some little doo-dads, the scripture guy plastic figure things, stickers, all that good stuff. like I said, kids eat that up. (maybe don't hand a 1-year-old a small figurine... they might actually eat that up.)

21. A mixed CD. don't even diss. Mixed Tapes are sooo underrated! There are obviously standards on music, it needs to be church music or instrumental. two words: William Joseph. ALSO, since it's the holiday season, I plan on putting together a marvelous Christmas CD! The rules are no romanticness, I'm pretty sure. 

22. Cake/brownie mix. Even if the man is the opposite of domestic, those things are a piece of CAKE to make. (haha. heh.)

Ok, now that we have some good ideas of what to put in that package, lets talk about what NOT to put in a package. A blanket or build-a-bear might sound like a cute idea at the time, but when it comes time to pack up, they might have to leave things behind. keep that in mind, ladies and gents!

Now to next, much shorter (I promise) portion.

What to write:
1. fill them in on gossip of the good ol' hometown. I mean, not bad gossip. just what's going on in everyone's lives! I've made like 5 marriage announcements via letters to al pal. Good gossip. happy news. stuff like that!

2. Spiritual thoughts. I'm not saying the whole letter needs to be spiritual, it's usually not for mine! but I usually just add in a warm-fuzzy experience in there, or a good quote or scripture! On occasion, I print out a couple blog posts and send them with a letter.

3. Harry Potter wisdom. duh.

4. Ask them questions about their area! We know you want to talk, but ask them to talk too! and RESPOND. Remember names of their investigators, and ask about them. It will really spark conversation anddd make them feel like you care.

5. This is a huge nerdy and awkward confession: at the beginning of Allen's mission, we didn't really know eachother that well. so we would take turns sharing & responding to 5 random facts about each other. now I know like, 50 random things about Allen Carlson! it eventually got too hard to think of things, so we stopped. buuuut. yeah. so there now you can make fun of me.

6. Sometimes the most obvious ones slip my mind! your TESTIMONY. In the words of my aunt, Missionaries are always boosted by testimonies from home. even if it's short sweet and to the point, make sure you are boosting them spiritually, with your own testimony of the Gospel

A few little extra notes: 
1. If a missionary takes a while to write you back, DON'T nag or complain about it. That is just suuuper selfish, if you think about what they are doing that's keeping them from writing you.
2. If he is in a tough area, where he isn't getting baptisms, keep encouraging.Keep. writing. Even if the writing gets boring, (cough cough. happening now) KEEP DOING IT. They need support from people back home, especially gal pals!
3. Be loving, be supportive, but don't be distracting.

If you made it to the end of this post, GOOD ON YA.
seriously, cheers to you, fellow sugar mamas. 

Thank you for all of my facebook and instapals for the suggestions! you are GEMS, all of you.


  1. I have a friend that I've been writing since January and we were really good friends but didn't know much about each other - so for the first few months we would ask each other questions about ourselves! It totaly made me happy that you added that one in there and that you had that experience as well. I love this post! It's magical :)

  2. Holly I love this!! You're the cutest gal EVER.

  3. This. This is exactly what I needed. A good friend of mine just left yesterday and I've been at a loss. Thanks!

  4. This. This is exactly what I needed. A good friend of mine just left yesterday and I've been at a loss. Thanks!

  5. This. This is exactly what I needed. A good friend of mine just left yesterday and I've been at a loss. Thanks!

  6. Some really great ideas! Thanks, I was looking for some stocking stuffer ideas for the Missionaries currently serving in our ward, want to make them a little Christmas gift to let them know they are appreciated. One thing I thought of for those serving state-side was a book of stamps or even just a few extras ~ I suppose this falls under your office supplies category but I just thought I'd mention it. Also if you want to do something for missionaries in your ward, I was thinking of giving ours a stack of pre-stamped Oregon postcards (found at most gas stations) that they could send quick notes to friends and family back home. :o)

  7. Oh and I found this really cute Christmas stocking pattern to make, I thought I would share! home.comcast.net/~tams_stockings/

  8. COOL! Thanks. I am totally linking this from my new blog about missionaries http://missionariestwobytwo.blogspot.com/

  9. I just heard about a great one! Check out http://inapikle.com/gherkin.html
    It's this perfect little "go" bag that will fit in their backpack with everything you would need! it has a little compact First-Aid Kit plus...Dental Floss, Scissors, Sewing Kit, Hand Sanitizer, Spot Remover, Band-Aids Pen, Paper, Paper Clips, and plenty of room for more! I think it would be a perfect gift!

  10. So I got home a month ago and I can say this is pretty darn accurate! I've made a list more tailored to sisters and i'll be posting it soon www.latestendeavor.blogspot.com

  11. OMH, I know an Allen Carlson. I used to babysit him which would make him mission age. They moved into my home when we moved in Orem. Crazy, wonder if it is the same guy, Sunset Heights Stake.

    1. Richelle, it probably is the same guy! I'm almost positive he is in the sunset heights stake. small world!

  12. Hi, Holly! Thanks a lot for the tips :D
    I have a brother in the field. He's serving in Porto Alegre North mission, in the last southern state of Brazil. (yeah! there's people around the world reading your blog! :D)
    And all the things you wrote are so true!
    I'll show this post to my mom and think about how we can apply in our home.
    Well, at least until I'm home...
    I'll go to a mission in july and hope that my friends and family sends me packages like that, with stuff to supports me :)

    so...that's it!
    sorry for my bad english hehe
    and good luck with your projects! ^^

  13. My missionary and I send each other on little missions, like sending a menu from our favorite restaurant, or finding the perfect skipping rock. We try and keep it with in the envelope size. Just stupid little things to keep things fun through out the week.

  14. Not only did I crack up almost the whole time I read this, but it was such a help! Thank you!

  15. Genius! This has saved me. I have a friend I didn't get to know very well because he's really shy. This really helped me to know what to send him! Thanks so much!

  16. So this may be a bit of an awkward vquestion, but what wouldbyou recomend for someone who is not LDS yet has a friend on a mission? Is there anything I can do to ease the waiting process?

    1. Haidy, I don't know if you'll read this, but I hope you do!
      But email me at h.therob@gmail.com and I can give you some advice :)

  17. Wow... Holly... WHY AREN'T WE FRIENDS? I was seriously laughing my booty off the whole time I was reading this. I also got what I needed to know in the first place: what to write and send a missionary. No, he's not my missionary.. but, he is. He's my BFF. I am going to come to this blog DAILY haha. Okay, maybe not daily, but weekly. I loved it. I love you. THANK YOU SO MUCH for "helpin' a sista out" :)

  18. I mail direct to missionaries- even internationally! Check it out at www.sistermissionaryclothes.com

  19. We sent our son on his mission with 20 pairs of socks and then 6 months later sent him 10 more pair for
    Christmas. He said thanks for the socks. Nothing else meant as much to him as the socks did. I had to ask him about the tie, pj's etc... He just really loved the socks. So I'll say this, send socks.