Fun Things to Send to Inmates

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Do you have a loved one or someone you’re trying to support in prison, like a pen pal? If so, you understand that loneliness should be expected during incarceration.

Being separated from family, friends, and the outside world can affect inmates’ emotional well-being. However, there are ways you can make a difference and bring much-needed joy into their lives— one of which is by sending fun things.

Care packages, heartfelt letters, and creative gifts can show support and remind prisoners that they’re not alone and that people care for them.

This article will explore prison-friendly gift ideas that can brighten inmates’ lives behind bars. That said, while there are items you can mail to prisoners, some correctional facilities limit what you can send and the number of items inmates can receive.

To find out if your creative and uplifting gift will reach your loved one, visit Access an extensive database of over 7,000 U.S. correction facilities and learn more about general prison guidelines and policies.

What Is a Care Package, and Why Should You Send One?

When your loved one is behind bars, staying connected is one of the primary methods you can use to show your support. Sending a care package, a thoughtful collection of items, is a way to keep in touch with an inmate.

However, a care package is more than just a package filled with goodies. It’s a thoughtful gesture that can help brighten a prisoner’s day and help them cope with the challenges of prison life. Here are some reasons why you should send one:

  • Brightening Their Day: Even the most straightforward care package can significantly impact your loved one’s well-being. Knowing that you took the time to think about them and put together a gift can bring a smile to their faces and uplift their spirits.
  • Showing You Care: When incarcerated, people often feel isolated and disconnected from their loved ones. Sending a care package is a tangible way to show your love and support. These packages remind inmates that their family and friends are thinking of them.
  • Boosting Morale: Life behind bars can be challenging, and receiving a care package can boost morale. This package offers a glimpse of home and can remind them that there is still love and happiness waiting for them beyond the prison walls.
  • Bringing a Piece of Home: Many individuals in prison don’t have the familiar comforts and belongings they had on the outside. A care package containing family photos and favorite snacks can serve as a lifeline, bringing a touch of familiarity and nostalgia.

Sending a care package can positively affect the lives of inmates. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with the rules and guidelines of the correctional facility so you ensure that the package goes through. Each facility may have specific regulations and restrictions on items you can package and send. provides access to a database of over 7,000 U.S. correctional facilities, including federal and state prisons, local jails, military prisons, and immigrant detention facilities.

How Can I Make My Inmate Loved One Happy?

Incarcerated individuals generally have no control over their day-to-day lives. This powerlessness can lead to feelings of dependence and helplessness, which can negatively impact their mental health.

When your loved one is behind bars, you must find ways to make them happy. Here are some thoughtful strategies to bring joy to an inmate’s life:

  • Engage in Uplifting Conversations: During phone calls or visits, be a source of positivity and comfort for your incarcerated loved one. Let them know they can open up and share their thoughts and emotions with you.
  • Encourage Sharing About Prison Life:  You allow inmates to express themselves and feel heard by showing genuine interest. Encourage your loved one to talk about their workouts, hobbies, and other aspects of their life behind bars.
  • Send Photos of Happy Memories: Send pictures of joyful moments from past holidays, vacations, family gatherings, or personal milestones. These glimpses of happier times can bring a sense of nostalgia and warmth to inmates’ hearts.
  • Thoughtful Small Gifts: While prisons limit the items inmates can receive, you still have options. Consider sending small gifts like books, magazines, and personal hygiene items to show your care and concern.
  • Share Positive News and Messages: In a challenging environment, positive news and messages can work wonders in boosting an inmate’s morale. Keep them updated on life outside with uplifting stories, achievements, and words of encouragement.
  • Personal Visits: If the facility allows it, visiting your loved one can be a powerful way to make them happy. Your presence can provide a sense of connection, love, and support.
  • Encourage Small Goals: You can help prison inmates maintain a sense of purpose and accomplishment by encouraging them to set small goals. By setting achievable objectives, they can experience a sense of fulfillment and motivation.

What Do Prisoners Do for Fun?

Incarcerated individuals are usually allowed limited recreational activities. However, there are still opportunities for them to find moments of fun. Here are some everyday activities prisoners can engage in for enjoyment:

  • Indoor Activities: These recreations include watching television shows and movies, playing board games like chess and draft, joining card games, shooting pool, participating in bingo, and pursuing creative hobbies such as drawing and painting.
  • Physical Activities: These activities may include access to a gym for exercise, music programs, and organized sports activities like basketball, softball, soccer, street hockey, and flag football.
  • Reading: Reading is a popular recreational activity among prisoners. Inmates can dive into fiction, educational literature, or nonfiction to provide an avenue for intellectual stimulation and personal growth.
  • Writing: Writing letters to family members and loved ones, crafting poetry, and keeping journals allow prisoners to channel their thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
  • Hobbies: Some correctional facilities offer sewing, knitting, painting, and music lessons to prison inmates to help cultivate hobbies during incarceration.
  • Games and puzzles: Engaging in board games and puzzles, such as chess and card games, can provide a mental escape for prisoners and help them find entertainment and mental stimulation.

It’s essential to recognize that the availability of recreational activities can vary from one prison or jail to another. Find out how your loved one’s facility can provide opportunities for inmates to engage in recreational pursuits. Learn more information about their facility by visiting

What Is a Good Gift for Someone in Jail? Creative, Prison-Friendly Gifts for Your Loved Ones in Prison

Finding the perfect gift for your incarcerated loved one requires thoughtfulness and consideration. Here are some creative and prison-friendly gift ideas that can impact your loved one’s well-being:

Embossed Envelopes

Personalized and decorative envelopes can make communication with your loved one more special. Not only do embossed envelopes protect the letters and items inside, but they give your gift more personality with raised designs.

Letters And Messages

While you can visit a loved one in county jail or federal prison to deliver a heartfelt message, visitation policies may not always make it possible. Physical and digital letters can be excellent alternatives for sharing thoughts, memories, and positive affirmations.

You can send a physical letter through the U.S. Postal Service. Alternatively, you can communicate with them through email. Some prison facilities provide electronic inmate mail services through the Trust Fund Limited Inmate Computer System (TRULINCS) program.

Write Them a Poem in Fancy Handwriting

Get creative with your letters by composing a poem in beautiful handwriting. This personal touch adds a unique and artistic element to your communication, making your inmate loved one feel cherished and special.

Fun Things to Write in Jail or Prison Letters

Inject humor and light-heartedness into your letters by including jokes, riddles, or anecdotes. You can also have interactive elements like games like Tic-Tac-Toe and crossword puzzles to bring laughter and relief to your loved one’s daily routine.

Creative Letter Ideas for Inmates

Conversations can get stale. That’s why exploring different themes and formats for your letters is essential. From sharing motivational quotes to random fun facts, you can inject creativity into your correspondence to keep your inmate loved one engaged.

Wonderful You!: 100 Inspirational Quotes

Consider including a book of inspirational quotes like Wonderful You!: 100 Inspirational Quotes for a Little Pop of Joy in your care package. These words of wisdom can provide encouragement, hope, and a source of inspiration during challenging times.


Sending photographs to a loved one in prison is a powerful way to maintain a connection between visits. Consider including pictures that remind them of happier moments and give them hope for a life outside the prison walls, such as seeing family, friends, and pets again.

Adhering to the facility’s guidelines regarding acceptable photo content is critical. Visit to gather essential information and links to relevant websites, like the details of your loved one’s facility, so you can learn its policies on photo content.

Send Your Loved One a Picture of Yourself

Seeing a familiar face can be incredibly comforting for an inmate. Send them a current but modest photograph of yourself, capturing special moments and milestones.

Can You Send Bathing Suit Pictures to Inmates?

Unfortunately, most correctional facilities don’t allow nudity or sexually explicit photos. That said, some facilities may permit bathing suit pictures. When unsure about the general guidelines for sending photos to your loved one’s prison, check out’s comprehensive blog page.

Picture of Their Children

Parents in prison often yearn to see their children’s faces. Including pictures of their kids allows these inmates to stay connected with their children and be reminded of their love and bond, even if they are physically apart.

Pictures Drawn by Their Children

Encourage your children to draw pictures of their incarcerated loved ones. These heartfelt creations can brighten their day and serve as a tangible expression of love and support from the little ones.

Books, Magazines, and Newspapers

Offering an escape from the monotony of prison life, reading materials can be a lifeline for inmates. Unfortunately, some prisons may categorize certain reading materials as contraband.

You can quickly find out what books, magazines, and newspapers you can send to your loved one by searching for their facility at All you need is their name or inmate ID number.

Order a Book Online to Be Delivered to Him

With online retailers like Amazon, you can send prison-friendly reading materials, such as softcover and paperback books, directly to correctional facilities. Again, however, ensure that you follow the facility’s guidelines on sending books.

Magazine Subscription

Consider gifting your incarcerated loved one a subscription to their favorite magazine. These publications provide regular entertainment, knowledge, and connection to the outside world.

The Tools of Argument: How the Best Lawyers Think

Books that stimulate the mind and foster personal growth can be precious to inmates. The Tools of Argument explores critical thinking skills that can benefit individuals navigating the legal system.

Tattoo. 1730s-1970s. Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection

If your loved one is a tattoo enthusiast or is simply interested in the subject, a book like Tattoo. 1730s-1970s. Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection: 1730s-1970s: Henk Schiffmacher’s Private Collection of the Art and Its Makers can be a fascinating and captivating gift.

This book offers a window into a unique world of artistic expression through the eyes of inmates.

What’s the Best Trivia Book: Fun Trivia Games

Trivia books like What’s the Best Trivia Book: Fun Trivia Games with 4,000 Questions and Answers are an engaging way to challenge inmates’ knowledge and keep their minds sharp.

The Daily Meditation Book of Healing

Introduce inspiration and reflection to your loved one’s life with a meditation book like The Daily Meditation Book of Healing: 365 Reflections for Positivity, Peace, and Prosperity.

How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide

If your loved one is interested in art, a drawing guide like How to Draw Cool Stuff: A Drawing Guide for Teachers and Students can be an excellent outlet for the inmate’s creativity. This book provides step-by-step instructions that can help improve these prisoners’ artistic skills.

A Year of Zen: A 52-Week Guided Journal

A guided journal, such as A Year of Zen: A 52-Week Guided Journal (a Year of Reflections Journal), offers a structured way for inmates to reflect, set goals, and find inner peace. It encourages self-discovery and personal growth throughout the year.

Tattoo Coloring Book for Adults

Coloring books explicitly designed for adults can provide a therapeutic and relaxing activity for your loved one in prison. This hobby allows them to express their creativity and find moments of peace while away from family and friends.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

A best-seller, Man’s Search for Meaning, delves into the human search for purpose and meaning. This book can be an excellent gift for inmates as it gives lessons on spiritual survival by chronicling the experience of living in Nazi Germany’s death camps.

Commissary Money

Correctional facilities have a commissary to supplement the many shortcomings of the prison system, like poor food standards. Commissary funds allow inmates to buy snacks, hygiene products, and stationery.

Sending your loved one commissary money allows them to purchase from the commissary to make their incarceration more bearable.

Money on Their Books

No, “money on the books” doesn’t mean slipping money into the books you send. Instead, it refers to adding funds to an inmate’s account.

You can contribute to your loved one’s commissary funds through money orders, or they can earn funds from designated services provided by the correctional facility.

Celebratory Cards

Special occasions like birthdays and holidays can be particularly emotional for inmates. Fortunately, sending holiday or birthday cards makes them feel remembered and cherished, even behind bars.

Homemade Card

Creating a homemade card adds a personal touch to your loved one’s celebration message. You can make it fun by using stickers or including photos and notes from family members and friends.

Thinking of You Kraft Greeting Card

If making a card isn’t your forte, you can use ready-made greeting cards like the “Thinking of You” Kraft Greeting Card. You can choose the best card appropriate for the occasion.

Food Box

While facility restrictions limit your options for sending food items, you can still explore options for nonperishable snack items or pre-packaged food boxes that comply with the guidelines.

Use’s database of over 7,000 U.S. correctional facilities to learn more about general policies, like what food you can and cannot send to a loved one behind bars.

Sundry Box

A sundry box can include essential personal care items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and other hygiene products. These everyday necessities can significantly impact your inmate loved one’s quality of life and well-being.

A Steamy Love Letter

A steamy love letter can help you ignite passion and extend intimacy to a loved one in prison. Use your words to convey your desire and let your loved one know they are still desired and cherished.

A Surprise Visit

Making a surprise visit to an inmate can be challenging for security reasons. However, if circumstances permit, surprising your loved one with a visit can be an unforgettable experience.

You can check your loved one’s facility’s visitation rules and schedule to plan a memorable reunion. Use to find out more about the facility where your loved one is.

Create a Vision Board

A vision board visually represents one’s goals, dreams, and aspirations through a collage of images or words. Encourage your loved one to create a vision board or ask family members and friends to create one for them.

Bring Extra Money to a Visit and Buy Him Everything He Wants From the Vending Machines

If you’re planning a visit, bring some extra money to spoil your loved one with treats from the vending machines. This simple gesture allows them to enjoy some of their favorite snacks and drinks during your time together.

Linen Sheets

Enhancing the comfort of their sleeping space can significantly affect an inmate’s quality of rest. Consider sending soft and breathable linen sheets to provide a touch of luxury in their challenging environment.

Heritage Musical Spoons

If your inmate loved one is a music lover, include a set of heritage musical spoons in your care package. These spoons can be a fun and easy way to play percussion and bring joy and entertainment to your loved one.

Side Sleeping Bed Pillow

A side-sleeper bed pillow can provide support and comfort for inmates who prefer to sleep on their sides. It’s a thoughtful gift that prioritizes your loved one’s sleeping preferences and ensures they have a good night’s sleep.

Nixon Regulus Watch

A durable and water-resistant watch like the Nixon Regulus is a practical gift for inmates. It allows them to keep track of time and maintain a sense of structure in their daily routines.

Again, different facilities can have varying guidelines regarding watches. Check out the details of your loved one’s facility at to be safe.

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Shoes

County jails and federal prisons throughout the U.S. can have different rules on inmate footwear. Suppose your loved one’s facility allows for them. In that case, the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus can be a comfortable and supportive option, especially for physical activities like sports.

Seat Cushion

Whether your loved one uses it in their cell or during visitation, a seat cushion can improve a prisoner’s overall well-being and help alleviate discomfort from sitting for long periods.

Turkish Laundry Bath Towel Set

A Turkish laundry bath towel set can bring a touch of luxury to your loved one’s everyday showering and personal care routine in prison. These towels are known for their softness, absorbency, and durability.

Chunky Knit Blanket

When inmates arrive, they’re usually issued two sets of blankets and bed sheets. You can make your loved one’s living space cozier by sending them chunky knit blankets. These blankets are made from thicker, heavier yarn but are breathable and can offer warmth during cold nights.

Pan Flute

A pan flute can be a unique and engaging gift if your loved one is interested in music. Playing the pan flute can offer a creative outlet and a productive way to pass the time by allowing inmates to explore their musical abilities.

Eddie Bauer Men’s Jacket

A high-quality jacket can make a significant difference in prison, where the temperature can be unpredictable. An Eddie Bauer men’s jacket is a practical gift that can provide comfort outdoors or during chilly evenings.

Hygiene Kit

Access to these essential hygiene items can significantly affect an inmate’s daily routine and overall comfort. Sending them a hygiene kit, including toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, and other personal care products, can help incarcerated individuals maintain cleanliness and well-being.

Snack Box Variety Pack

A snack box offers a selection of snacks and treats to provide a momentary escape and enjoyment for your incarcerated loved one. From sweet to savory, these snack boxes can satisfy cravings and bring a taste of the outside world to a prison inmate’s cell.

“These People Are Going to Miss You” Frame

Nothing tells someone behind bars “I love you” more than a “These People Are Going to Miss You” frame. It’s a sentimental and heartfelt gift that allows your loved one to display photos of their family and friends, reminding them of the love and support they have from those outside.

Wood Trick Safe Wooden Model Kit for Adults

A Wood Trick Safe Wooden Model Kit is a unique and engaging gift that can provide hours of entertainment and creativity. It’s a thoughtful gift combining fun and functionality as it allows prisoners to assemble a wooden safe to put their tiny treasures in.

Eastern Standard Provisions

Eastern Standard Provisions offers a range of gourmet pretzels and dipping sauces that make a delicious and indulgent gift for a loved one in prison. These high-quality snacks can add a touch of flavor and excitement that standard prison food may not provide.

Wheel of Fortune Word Puzzles

Brain games like the Wheel of Fortune word puzzles can be a great mental stimulation and entertainment source. These puzzles challenge the mind and offer a fun way to pass the time, especially if the inmate enjoys the variety show after which the game is named.

Granny Bella Soft Chocolate Chip Cookie Gift Basket

Give them homemade cookies if you want to remind a loved one of fond memories of home. A Granny Bella soft chocolate chip cookie gift basket is a sweet, delicious, and comforting treat that can bring a smile to inmates’ faces and remind them of the simple pleasures in life.

RockDove Men’s Slippers

Whether inmates wear them in their cell or during recreational time, RockDove men’s slippers can make the daily routine of your loved one behind bars a little more comfortable. Made with soft and cozy materials, these slippers offer warmth and cushioning.

Many prisons across the U.S. have their respective guidelines on inmate footwear. Find out more information about your loved one’s facility by visiting

Custom Blanket With Photo

You can take picture frames and photo albums to the next level with custom photo blankets. You can select a photo with special significance for your loved one and print it on a cozy blanket. This unique gift will bring warmth, comfort, and a reminder of cherished memories to an inmate.

Multipack of Tshirts

In the U.S., many prisons have a standard-issue uniform. However, some facilities allow inmates to wear personal clothes under special circumstances. A multipack of T-shirts can be a practical and versatile gift for your loved one in these situations.

As mentioned before, correctional facilities have different policies. Read the prison guidelines of the facility where your loved one is. You can start by getting the facility’s essential information from’s extensive database.

Pringles Potato Crisps Chips Pack

A pack of Pringles potato crisps is a classic and enjoyable snack for your loved one. These iconic chips come in various flavors, offering a delicious treat that can satisfy cravings and bring a taste of familiarity. These snacks are convenient, portable, and something inmates can enjoy anytime.

Transformed By Trauma By Richard G. Tedeschi PhD

Transformed By Trauma: Stories of Posttraumatic Growth by Richard G. Tedeschi, PhD, is a book that explores the concept of post-traumatic growth through triumphs and tragedies. This book can inspire hope and a sense of empowerment in your loved one.

Kedrian Care Package Box

A Kedrian Care Package Box is a thoughtfully curated package filled with items to uplift and support your loved one. It can include a variety of goodies such as snacks, personal care items, and motivational items.

Dove Men+Care Limited Edition

Dove Men+Care Limited Edition sets offer grooming products to help your loved one maintain personal hygiene while behind bars. These sets can include body wash, shampoos, deodorants, and moisturizers.

Castle Art Supplies

Help unleash and support your loved one’s creativity by sending them Castle Art supplies. From drawing pencils and sketchbooks to painting sets and brushes, these art supplies provide an outlet for self-expression and artistic exploration.

Burt’s Bees Classics Gift Set

The Burt’s Bees Classics gift set is a collection of natural skin care products, from lip balms to hand creams that promote self-care and nourishment. These products are made with natural ingredients, reminding your loved one to prioritize self-care even in challenging circumstances.

David Archy Men’s Breathable Boxer Briefs

Prisons in the U.S. offer work programs and other physical activities for inmates. A thoughtful and practical gift can be boxer briefs like David Archy men’s breathable ones. These underwear are made with soft and breathable fabrics, which provide a comfortable fit throughout the day.

Citrus Soap 6-Pack Box Set

A citrus soap 6-pack box set is a refreshing and invigorating gift for your loved one. These scented soaps offer a revitalizing shower experience. They can elevate inmates’ daily hygiene routine and provide a sense of luxury.

Oh! Nuts Gift Basket

An “Oh! Nuts” gift basket is a delightful assortment of nuts and treats that can satisfy cravings and supplement your loved one’s dietary requirements. From roasted nuts to chocolate-covered goodies, this gift basket offers a variety of flavors and textures.

Unbox-Me Care Package

“Send a Hug in a Box” fits the Unbox-Me care package to a tee. These specially curated care packages can include snacks, self-care products, miniature games, and motivational items, bringing excitement and joy to your loved one.

What Are Pre-approved Packages?

Sending pre-approved packages to a loved one behind bars is a great way to provide comfort and support while ensuring compliance with prison regulations. These packages are carefully selected and approved by the prison authorities.

Pre-approved packages generally come with an assortment of essentials and entertainment items that meet the prison’s guidelines. These packages include approved food items, personal hygiene products, clothing adhering to the dress code, and electronics.

Some prisons have partnered with specific care package providers, such as Union Supply Direct, to make sending items to prisoners more convenient.

What You Cannot Send to Prisoners

Avoid making mistakes when sending a care package to your loved one in prison. Understanding what you cannot include will help ensure your package reaches your loved one successfully while complying with the correctional facility’s regulations.

Here are some items that you should never include in a care package:

  • Any item that can be used as a weapon or facilitate an escape from prison
  • Things that may incite violence or pose a threat to the facility’s safety and security
  • Objects related to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco
  • Articles of a sexual nature

Each prison may have specific guidelines regarding what you can send to a loved one or pen pal in jail. Search for your inmate’s facility using’s locator to get the contact information of the prison directly for any clarifications on the guidelines or policies.

How to Send an Inmate a Care Package

Once you’ve prepared your care package, it’s time to send it to your loved one. The first step is to contact your loved one’s facility and obtain the correct mailing address.

All packages must be delivered directly to the prison through the U.S. Postal Service or the prison’s approved courier service. If any item in the package violates the prison guidelines, it will be disposed of or sent to your return address.

What You Must Know Before Mailing a Letter to an Inmate

Knowing and following the prison’s guidelines are crucial when mailing a letter to an inmate. You also want to avoid including prohibited items, like glitter, paper clips, confetti, stickers, perfume, and violent or pornographic content, when sending letters.

How to Send Creative Letters to Inmates on Your Own

Following the mailing rules is critical when sending creative letters to a loved one or pen pal in jail. Include the inmate’s full name and I.D. number, the prison address, and your complete return address on both the envelope and the letter.

If you have an inmate pen pal and want a response, write your address on the letter. If you’re uncomfortable sharing your personal address, consider setting up a P.O. Box for communication.

Risks and Limits to Sending Mail to an Inmate

While sending mail to inmates is an excellent way to show your support for them, there are potential risks and limitations. Here are key points to consider:


  • Mail monitoring: Inmate mail is monitored by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to prevent criminal activities.
  • Mail censorship: Prisons may inspect and censor mail for security reasons, depending on whether it’s privileged or not.
  • Prohibited items: Avoid sending items like jewelry or personal belongings, as they’re considered contraband.


  • Outbound mail inspection: Medium– and high-security federal prisoners can’t seal their mail before inspection, while low– and minimum-security prisoners can.
  • Limits for indigent inmates: Indigent inmates may send a maximum of two letters per week, with no limit on legal mail.
  • Business purposes: Inmate mail for business purposes requires prior written approval from the facility commander.
  • Prohibited items: Typically, only letters, photos, books, cards, magazines, and newspapers are allowed. Avoid sending other items that may be considered contraband.

To learn more about the risks and limits of sending packages to an inmate, visit’s blog page. You also get access to inmate records from over 7,000 correctional facilities in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, and other states.

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