I love traditions. Like L.O.V.E. Love! The anticipation of each holiday year after year. The excitement as the house is transformed from plain and boring to something magical. The memories that are made and the joy and happiness it all brings!
I love that we all have our own traditions. Whether they are deeply rooted, passed down from one generation to the next and stem from our cultural back ground, or are ones that are newly formed as an adult when we meet our significant other, traditions are so uniquely personal, thus making them more magical!
My Mom was big on traditions (hence where I get it from!!) and most of the traditions we had growing up all began when I was born. However, over the years, a few new traditions snuck their way into our family, things that quickly became family favorites!
One tradition that I still love to this day is the tradition of “BOO’ing”. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you where this tradition originated, all I remember is sometime when I was in middle school a delightful yet mysterious package arrived on our doorstep one warm October night with a cute little ghost and special little poem printed on bright orange paper. This festive mystery package contained all sorts of Halloween treats and knickknacks from a secret do gooder. The note gave us directions to share the Halloween spirit and leave an anonymous Halloween treat package of our own randomly on another’s front porch.
Us kids, of course, enjoyed discovering our mysterious goodies, but we loved even more, was creating our own treat package and creeping around the neighborhood in the dead of night to drop it off at some un-expecting friend or neighbor’s house. So year after year, my siblings and I eagerly waited for October 1st to roll around so we could be the first ones in the neighborhood to get the fun going that year.
To this day I still love “BOO’ing” friends, family and neighbors. Since this tradition is so dear to my siblings and I, over the years I have mailed “BOO” care packages to my brother and sisters (and their families) that now live far way. It brings me great joy to carefully package up some homemade treats, Halloween candy and other Halloween knickknacks I find, with that special little poem to remind them of this fun family tradition.
This year, as I was shopping for my BOO care package treats and goodies at my local Walmart, I discovered a big bag of Mars Mixed Minis, that had over 240 pieces of some of our favorite chocolate candies, plus fun Halloween themed Sunkist® and 7UP® 8-ounce cans. Not only would these be perfect to include in my “BOO’d” care packages, I discovered that Mars has a website dedicated to all things “BOO’ing” where you can conveniently print free “Boo’d” cards (with all the special instructions) to include in the BOO packages.
A “BOO’d” theme care package would be great to send friends, family, grand kids, college students, military or anyone else that lives far away, to let them know you are thinking about them and let them participate in the fun and festivities in their neck of the woods.
Since I have been sending these BOO care packages for several years, I thought I would share some of my best care package tips, plus a festive fall cookie, Brown Butter Pumpkin MILKY WAY® Cookies (recipe below) to include as well.
Care Package Tips:
- Shipping: Check with your local post office to confirm shipping rates. Flat rate shipping (using their boxes) is typically best especially if shipping to another state or internationally. This rate can be any weight and includes insurance and two day shipping. However, I have discovered, if you are shipping within your own state or if you have a very small or light package, shipping in your own box, maybe cheaper. Just make sure and ask for insurance and check pricing differences and timing between standard, two day, overnight, etc.
- Declare Contents: When shipping be sure and inform the postal worker if there are any liquids, perishable or fragile contents within your package.
- Packaging: Make sure boxes are sturdy, well sealed and labeled appropriately (ie: “Fragile” or “This Side Up”). If reusing cardboard boxes, make sure the old shipping address is completely covered by a new, clean shipping label. If wrapping the outside of the box in brown paper, make sure a shipping label is securely fashioned on the inside box as well (in case the paper wrapping comes off or gets torn). Wrap items in bubble wrap or fabric and make sure box is completely filled to avoid items shifting during travel. To avoid leakage or breakage, package homemade baked goods in plastic wrap and plastic storage containers, and place liquids in zipper baggies. Ship candles or other non-food items in separate boxes.
- Contents: If shipping to a warmer climate, choose overnight shipping or avoid shipping anything that will melt. While many liquids (including soda) can be shipped, ask your postal worker and check military guidelines for any restrictions. Place all liquids in 2-3 zipper baggies and place tape around seal to help prevent leakage.
BOO Care Package Items:
- Free BOO Printable:
- Cut out this “We’ve been BOO’d” sign.
- Fold the “You’ve been BOO’d” greeting card (page 2) and tape openings together.
- Include the card and sign when gifting BOO care packages.
- Candy, like Mars Mixed Minis or Wrigley Monster Stash (non-chocolate options like the SKITTLES®, STARBURST®, and LIFESAVERS® found in this candy mixed bag are great for shipping to warmer climates!)
- Halloween themed 7UP®, Sunkist® or A&W 8-ounce cans (placed in gallon sized plastic zipper baggies to help prevent leakage).
- Pumpkin carving kits
- Halloween stickers, pencils, erasers, etc.
- Glow sticks (again place in several plastic zipper baggies)
- Halloween socks
- Halloween books and coloring books
- Festive/crazy straws
- Halloween cups
- Homemade baked goods (carefully wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in plastic food storage containers) like the Brown Butter Pumpkin MILKY WAY® Cookies (recipe below) or muffins/quick bread, trail/cereal mix, popcorn balls, etc.
How To Decorate the Inside of a Cardboard Box:
Sturdy cardboard box or flat rate shipping box
Wrapping paper, scrapbook paper, construction paper
Stickers, pictures, paper cut outs
Glue stick or double sided tape
Scissors or paper trimmer
Ruler or tape measure
1. Using the ruler, measure the sides and top folding flaps of the box.
2. Use packing tape to securely assemble box leaving top open.
3. Tape down box flaps inside the bottom of the box.
4. Use the ruler and scissors or paper trimmer, to then measure and cut wrapping or scrapbook paper to fit the appropriate dimensions.
5. Use glue or double sided tape to adhere paper pieces to the inside sides of the box.
6. Decorate paper covered box flaps with stickers, pictures or paper cutouts.
7. Fill box with desired goodies and seal box completely with box tape.
8. Label sides of box with “this side up” and “fragile”.
9. Adhere shipping label.
Brown Butter Pumpkin MILKY WAY® Cookies
By Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions: www.kitchen-concoctions.com
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes Wait Time: 30-60 minutes Bake Time: 10-12 minutes Yields: 2 ½ dozen cookies
½ cup unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 cup chopped MILKY WAY® minis (approximately 20-25 mini candy bars)
Place the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter begins to boil up and becomes foamy. Continue cooking and stirring until butter starts to smell nutty and turn golden or toasty brown in color, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together browned butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Whisk in the egg yolk, vanilla and pumpkin puree; whisking until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition. Continue stirring in flour until all flour has been incorporated and a soft dough forms. Fold in chopped MILKY WAY® candy bars.
Cover dough in bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes or refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Using a cookie scoop or a tablespoon, scoop well chilled dough into 1 ½-inch balls. Place dough onto prepared baking sheets, leaving several inches in between for expansion. Using the palm of your hand, gently press the balls of cookie dough to flatten slightly. Cover and keep any remaining dough in freezer until ready to bake. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, in preheated 350 degree F oven or until set and edges are lightly browned.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes before transferring them to a baking rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Notes: Cookies must be well chilled before baking. This prevents spreading of the soft cookie dough and helps keep the caramel from the MILKY WAY® candies from spreading out the sides/bottoms of the cookie too much.
Who are you going to BOO this Halloween? What special treats will you include in your package? Be sure to check out other great BOO Kit ideas and enter the #booitforwardsweepstakes (using the link below) to win big!