A Bottle of Goodies is 13 Ounces or Less


Thanks to all the Idea Room readers who stopped in yesterday. If you’re just joining, today’s post is from a series I’ve started on GiversLog that has become my personal favorite. I’ve been mailing gifts that are 13 ounces or less. And thanks to a few brilliant readers, we’ve come up with some fun things. Like today’s idea. I know it is going to have you running to your recycling bin and pulling out any waterbottles you can find.

This idea came from the lovely Miss Cocoa of Chocolate on my Cranium (can you guess what Cocoa and I have in common? A complete and shameless love of chocolate, maybe?) When I first started this series, Cocoa told me about how she did this. After my friend heard about it, she suggested a bottle exchange. Such brilliance. We exchanged a few emails and agreed we’d send anything that could fit in a water bottle. So first, here’s what I mailed.

Have you ever tried a kneedable eraser? I love the things.

I used free printable labels from here and here.

And now, here is the happy mail I got in return. (Thanks, Sherry, you rock!)

Notice any similarities? We were both all grins when we opened our mailboxes. It turns out we both like turquoise, just a little.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details


{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Samantha Lee March 18, 2010 at 6:50 am

Clever Cocoa! (who just won a giveaway on my blog and I just learned is related to me through a cousin . . .) This idea is sheer genius! I just need to know how she got that spiral notebook into the bottle. My brain can’t wrap itself around that one. Love, love, love it!


Chocolate on my Cranium March 18, 2010 at 8:43 am

I dare say your bottles turned out WAY prettier than mine. :D Can you picture cute invites to a Pirate or beach themed party? Fun, fun, fun!


Andrea March 18, 2010 at 10:06 am

Can someone organize a bottle buddy (like pen pals) so I can get goodies in the mail?


Sara @ Happy Brown House March 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

Ok, so did you seal the bottle up with anything? I’ve been watching you blog about all of this and think it’s fabulous, but wonder what my mailman would say when I hand it to him at the post office. I know someone who did the frisbee in college and a flip flop I think. Actually 2 flip flops at separate times, i think. Very curious about all of this. My sis lives in NY and needs some happy mail.


AmberLee March 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hi Sara,
Thanks for stopping by. The flip flops are hilarious! I actually considered sealing the bottle, but then decided to just mail it. It seemed to get there just fine. So far I’ve gotten every reaction at the post office, from a big grin, to a suppressed one, to no reaction whatsoever. It’s actually my favorite part, seeing if I get any sort of a rise when I mail it off. If you do send something, I’d love to hear.


Tegan and Tage March 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

Clever! I love that you actually just sent the bottle in the mail. I am definitely going to have to use this idea. Did you cut the bottle though, to fit everything inside, and then tape it up?


AmberLee March 18, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Hi Tegan and Tage!
Yes, you guessed it. I did what Cocoa did, and I used a craft knife to cut a door in the side of the bottle. Once I’d slipped everything in, I just stuck the label right over the little door. It worked really well.


TeddyStartedIt March 18, 2010 at 11:34 am

What fun! This would be a great way to ship off some of the little tiny toys that are taking over my house. Maybe I’ll do this w/the kiddos. We’ve moved so many times they have friends all over the place. How much fun would that be for a kid to get in the mail!?!


jengee March 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

this one is great! i love being able to see the goodies inside. i wonder what each worker who handled it was thinking when they saw it :)


Ivy March 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Ah, you are so lucky to be able to send those packages! In the Netherlands things quickly get expensive if they are over a certain size (34cm by 24 cm by 4 cm), which is quite problematic if you want to send that is not a book or something like that!

But I we hadn’t had those regulations, you would find me filling up a bottle right now. Just because it would be such a nice suprise for the receiver. Thanks!


Sara @ Happy Brown House March 18, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Thanks for replying! That’s what I was wondering was how you got things inside….duh you would need a door!


Michelle March 19, 2010 at 7:17 am

Mystery solved. I’ve been trying to figure out how on earth you got everything in there and made it look so perfect and pretty. Sneaky! : )
This is such a lovely idea and so very clever. This series is definitely one of my favorite blog reads, Amber. Keep them coming!


Kristin March 19, 2010 at 9:50 am

I love the bottle idea! I am definitely going to go rummage for empties.


emily anderson March 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

i seriously love, love , LOVE this!!


Casey March 20, 2010 at 8:50 am

What a truly fabulous idea!


katherinemarie March 21, 2010 at 7:24 am

This is so WILDLY FANTASTIC!!!!!!!! I know your post master is LOVING all your creativity… you must putting some serious SMILES on the entire post office staff— When ever I mail out anything funny or silly I can’t resist showing it to everyone standing in line… hope you shared this with all!!!! :):):)


My First Kitchen March 24, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Slammin’. Simply slammin’.


Erin @ Making Memories April 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

This is so cool! I’m posting the Easter Egg idea on the 20th and will be linking back to you. Thanks for the awesome idea!


CIndy June 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Just saw this and I am going to have my daughter do this with her Pen Pal! She is so excited to begin with her Pen Pal (she’s afraid she won’t write back), but if she got this…she would HAVE TO! Thanks for the great idea!


Linda June 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I am late seeing this! What a cute idea! What kinds of things did you all mail? Ideas???


Anna Caldwell June 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Such cute ideas! I just have a few questions.
-It looks like the second idea split the bottle open prior to sending, to get all those goodies inside. How did she reattach it so it would get to you intact?

-Not to be daft, but why 13 ounces or less? Does that make the postage a certain price or something?


AmberLee July 3, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Hi Anna!

Thanks for stopping by and for your notes!
After cutting open the bottle, we just put a label over it. Packaging tape would work too, but a label sticks well and I had no worries about it coming open.
And yes, great question about the 13 oz. In the states (are you in the US?) any piece of mail that weighs 13 oz or less can be sent first class, which is just a couple dollars. A total bargain for sending something exciting anywhere in the country.


MJ September 20, 2011 at 10:45 pm

i would LOVE to use this idea for my wedding invitations!!!! thank you!


maria November 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

Does anyone know if I can send some happy mail to my adopted deployed soldiers at fpo/apo’s?


Monica December 4, 2011 at 6:03 pm

This is a great idea for valentines! I am going to give my class their valentine goodies in bottles! I am so excited to do this!


AmberLee December 5, 2011 at 5:59 am

thanks for the note, Monica! you sound like quite the awesome teacher : )


Susan R January 3, 2012 at 10:00 am

You have inspired me to start 2012 off by reaching out to my “bestie”, my uncle who is homebound due to illness, my nephew whom I miss desperately, my co-worker who left work to care for her grandchildren…..all these people deserve “hapy mail” and I have already started colecting goodies to pack in bottles ! Thanks goodness my son loves to drink Gatorade ! My goal is to send at least 4 bottles a month to 4 different people and keep it up all year ! Wonder if I could send a tennis ball with the address on it ?????? hmmmmm….


AmberLee January 12, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Susan! I love the idea of mailing out suprises every month!! What a wonderful thing to do. If you try the tennis ball, I’d love to hear how it goes!


Jackie January 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I love these ideas. Do you know if this will work going to an APO address? My husband is deployed, and I can just see sending mini care package bottles to him in Afghanistan.


AmberLee January 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Hi Jackie!
Thanks for your note! I am not sure if these would get to an APO address. I would really think a bottle especially would be a safe call, but I would LOVE to find out if you try. What a thoughtful idea. Give you husband a big THANK YOU from me if you get a chance.


Susan R January 22, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I did it ! I sent “Happy Mail” to an uncle who spends long hours in a dialysis clinic, to my best friend that lives far away and soon to my cousin who is having a birthday ! I added confetti in their football team’s colors, chapstick, hot chocolate mix, hand warmers, a personal note, peppermint, post-its, an ink pen and other “littles”. The post office mailed them off without a hitch and it was so much fun getting phone calls from the recipients. They kept saying “How did you get everything in there ?” but I vowed to keep it a secret.
I now have a growing list of people to send “Happy Mail” to all year. Trips to the store now have me looking at the little things that make a BIG difference. Thanks, Susan


Gloria Coder February 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I did it today too! I mailed a water bottle with paper airplane valentines(like 8 of them) in it for my son who is missionary right now. I also put some candies in with it too. It weighed a little less than 4 ounces, and cost $2.12 to mail. I also sent a Frisbee with a note written on the inside of the Frisbee It weighed a little less than 3 ounces and cost $1.95 to mail. The lady at the post office, just kept saying, “how cute”! I can’t wait to hear from my son later when he gets them. (I really was just curious as to -1. if they would take them at the post office and what they would say. I can’t wait to post this on my facebook. Thanks so much for the idea


AmberLee February 9, 2012 at 5:54 am

Gloria! I love it!! What a fun package. And I agree, dropping it off at the post office adds to the fun! Best wishes to your son!!


Bonnie February 10, 2012 at 5:07 am

What a great way to recycle all those water bottles! Awesome idea


Tallya February 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I guess I’m the only one but I’m a bit nervous taking something like this to the post office, I’m afraid they will reject my package and tell me I’m crazy :( That said, I would love to send fun packages like this to people, it is just an adorable idea!


AmberLee February 13, 2012 at 5:55 am

Hi Tallya,
Thanks for the sweet note! And you have options when sending something fun like this, if you’re more comfortable, just weigh it, add stamps yourself, and drop it in a big blue mailbox. I do enjoy watcing the postal workers reactions every now and then, however, and they seem to enjoy talking about it with me too. Good luck!


MarneyLee February 14, 2012 at 9:47 am

I love these mailing ideas. While in Hawaii on my honeymoon. My hotel did a craft (probable for kids, but I’m a kid at heart) painting coconuts. A large coconut with the outer husk, not like you find at the supermarket. They told me I could mail the whole thing just as it was and I about a week later my parents recieved a beautifully painted cocnut! (It was about $7 though). That was my first experience with “happy” mail. Five years later and I had forgotten how fun that was! I am going to do this again with my daughters!! P.S. I am totally in love with your blog!!! Especially the book stuff!


Miranda February 28, 2012 at 11:23 am

I just found this and LOVE it! I am wondering about sending things to my brother in afghanistan though. I will try it out and post back. I dont have the benefit of a post office with a sense of humor..(I know from past experience) but I might brave the waters anyhow just to find out. How fun!


Jan May 26, 2012 at 7:39 am

Have you ever had anything stolen before it reached the intended recipient? Just curious. There are so many cute things that can be mailed and while I’d like to think our postal workers are all honest, you just never know. The temptation may be too great! lol


Heather June 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I am getting married on a cruise ship, and I had looked at message in a bottle invitations, but ruled them out as too expensive to purchase and then mail…now I am thinking this might work…I would be saving the cost of the invitations because I could just print the info on paper and roll it up. I wonder how much it would cost to ship if it was only the paper and the water bottle? I’m thinking it would have to be less than $2


Suzy July 13, 2012 at 11:25 am

I love this thought of sending fun little gifts to people you love…I don’t understand how you get all that great stuff in the bottle…please help so I can join in also.
Thanks for the fun


AmberLee July 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Hi Suzy,
Thanks for your note! I cut a “door” in the side of the bottle with an craft knife, stuck everything in, then stuck the label right over the door. Easy peasy!!


Darrah July 17, 2012 at 4:45 am

I am so thankful I found this! My 10 year old daughter just moved two states away to be with her dad for a year. I need more ideas. I want to send one a week!


Nicole August 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

I’m curious about theft as well. I live in FL and want to send a couple of these to Oregon but afraid they won’t make it clear across the country. Either because they will get torn up or stolen. Any thoughts?


AmberLee August 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Hi Nicole! I have been totally amazed at how well these do in the mail. Florida to Oregon is a long way! But I think it’s definitely worth a shot. I’ve sent some things I thought might not do well (like a tinsel wreath) and was totally amazed to find they arrived in good shape. If you do try, I’d love to hear.


raina September 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Do you know how many stamps you have to put on the bottles? Like is there one for every so many ounces? Can you just put it in the mail box and the man will just pick it up?


AmberLee September 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Hi Raina,
Thanks for your note! Yes, you can totally just throw on some stamps and, in my case, I dropped it in a big blue mailbox. See all the deets here:


Renee October 1, 2012 at 10:06 am

Do you know if this will work with a small plastic Folger’s coffee can? I want to send some cookies from SC to CA.


AmberLee October 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Hi Renee,
A plastic coffee can should work just fine! P.s., you may have heard this already, but I’m told slices of white bread are a great way to package cookies.

Good luck!!


Denise October 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I love this idea! I was looking for a unique idea for sending care packages to my nephew who is a Marine recruit. I can’t imagine the surprise his troop leader will have when this comes filled with treats like beef jerky. Can’t wait!


alicia October 14, 2012 at 4:23 pm

What a neat idea! Are there size restrictions also, like a liter bottle vs a small water bottle or is it just by weight? The grandparents are going to LOVE this! Thanks for sharing!


AmberLee October 14, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Hi Alicia!
Great question. There are no max size limits, just the weight. I am careful not to mail anything too tiny though, generally i figure if it can hold a couple stamps and still have room for an address, it is good!


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: