Sending a care package to a military member who is deployed is a great way to let them know you appreciate their service and that you are thinking of them. It’s no longer possible to send a care package to random troops, but if you have a friend or loved one who is deployed, or you can get information about a specific soldier, you can assemble and send a care package filled with goodies that will brighten their day.
The great thing about care packages is that they don’t need to be expensive or elaborate. As a matter of fact, most military members report their favorite packages include items that remind them of home, no matter how simple or inexpensive they might be.
So, if you want to express your gratitude to a soldier and you aren’t sure where to begin, read on for great military care package ideas.
Setting Up Your Care Package
A great place to begin assembling a military care package is by getting the free shipping supplies offered by USPS. These shipping kits include boxes, labels, and packing tape, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing anything for shipping except for the actual cost of mailing the package.
Once you have your Military Care Kit from the USPS, you can assemble one or more of the boxes and use it to store the items you gather if you are not creating your care package all at one time. A lot of people like to keep a “running care package” for loved ones where they add items throughout the month and once the box is full they ship it out. Once one box is on its way, they start a new box for the next month.
What to Include in a Military Care Package
The items you put into a care package can be determined on a case by case basis. If you know your loved one likes a particular item, you might want to send that item in every box you send. For instance, if you have a family member who is deployed and they are missing a particular type of cookie or candy, include it every time you send something to them.
Aside from a favorite item of your loved one, it can be tough to come up with ideas for care packages. This is especially true if you aren’t all that close to the person you’re blessing with a care package. There are plenty of items that aren’t all that personal but will be loved by whomever receives the package.
Most care package items fit into one of a few categories:
- Food items, either store bought or homemade
- Personal care items
- Entertainment items
Some things will fit into more than one category and that’s fine. If you’re stuck for ideas you might want to try choosing one or two items from each category, so you’re sure to send a variety of things. Some people also choose to theme their care packages around a specific category. For instance, you might send a box filled only with food, or one with just personal items. An added benefit of theming a box is you don’t need to worry about any cross contamination. Some soldiers have reported their food items end up smelling or tasting like soap when they are mixed in with personal care items, so theming your box helps you avoid this.
Keep in mind there are some things you shouldn’t send in a military care package. This article discusses what’s prohibited.
Sending Food and Drink in a Care Packages
One of the most popular items to include in a military care package is food and drink. These items are appreciated, but it’s important you take care to ensure the items arrive unspoiled and un-spilled.
Packaged powdered drink mixes are extremely popular because it allows service members to enjoy a special beverage without needing to worry about anything spilling. For instance, if your loved one is deployed in a location that has cold weather or colder seasons, packets of tea or hot chocolate are great options. Instant coffee is also a good option. And if they are dealing with the heat on a regular or seasonal basis, try iced tea or lemonade packets.
Another great option for a care package in the food category is snacks. Most people have a favorite snack and if you can help a loved one load up on a collection of favorites from home, it will be much appreciated. Favorite snacks usually include chips, nuts, pretzels, cheese crackers, candy, and cookies. Keep in mind that bags can burst during shipping, so either choose containers that won’t burst (cans of Pringles come to mind) or double bag anything you send.
Personal Care Items
Another great option for care packages is personal care items. Think of all of the things you’d need to pack for a week-long vacation. Toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, shaving lotion, dental floss… the list goes on.
Now image being away from home for months or years at a time and needing these things!
This is what makes them such popular items to include in care packages.
In addition to the necessities, consider sending eye drops, lotion, lip balm, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and over-the-counter pain relief medication. All of these items come in handy and can be tough to scrounge up when you’re living the military life.
Along with personal care items, you might want to include a few clothing items, like socks or fresh T-shirts. These items come in handy and also add a bit of extra cushion to your package to protect the other items. Just make sure you put any liquid or cream items into separate plastic bags so it doesn’t damage any clothing.
Entertainment Items for Care Packages
Finally, it’s a good idea to include a few fun or entertaining items in a care package.
Magazines and books are popular. So are small games, puzzles, and decks of cards. Some people like books that feature word finds or crossword puzzles. Your care package recipient might also like stationary items for writing home, or a journal, photo album, disposable camera, or drawing paper.
There are lots of things you can include in a care package. Be creative and find ways to surprise a loved one in the military with just the right items!