When I was younger, I thought care packages are only for your grandparents if they can’t go out shopping anymore. Little did I know that care packages would mean so much in my future life – as a military wife. Care packages for military members are like little pieces of the home being sent to them. And now that we’re dealing with care packages often, it has grown a different meaning to me, a much deeper meaning. But how to send a care package? How do we do it? What to put in there and where to send it? I will break it down. And hopefully, you’ll get ideas and tips from my experiences.
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Why Do We Send Care Packages?
The answer is simple. We send care packages to our family members who are deployed to show that we care and think about them. While they are out there earning us a living, this is our way of providing for them. We can customize it and personalize it for our service members. I just spoke with my husband before publishing this, and he told me he was so surprised when he got our care package. And it boosted his morale. He also mentioned that these care packages inspire him to work harder. This may be true for some of your service members. But for some, this is what they look forward to. This reminds them that they are not forgotten. And this can keep them company while being away with their loved ones. And come to think of it, they will be gone for month’s end, some shorter while others can take 6 to 9 to a year of being away to sea. So, for me, these care packages mean so much! It’s like our love and care wrapped in a box.
When our partners or family members or loved ones go on deployments, these care packages, as I said, are our way of providing for them. United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only one that offers priority mail services to FPO/AP addresses. For me, I’ve always had great experiences with the USPS Large Priority box. Plus, it’s flat-rate. You’ll pay the flat same amount for whatever the weight of the package. Isn’t that sweet? Also, your local USPS may have “Military Care Kit” that includes the box, packing tape, and customs forms. And these are all complimentary. They will ship it out to you for free. And you can schedule a free package pick-up. If not, you can always visit their website USPS.com.
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What to Put in the Care Package?
- Pictures. I can’t emphasize this enough. This will surely fill up their hearts. And good way to show what’s going on and how are you and the kids (and pets and other families) are doing. Also, send pictures by printing it out or store everything in a USB or flash drive. But for me and my kid, we chose sending these Instax Polaroid pictures. They’re just super cute and they can post it on their racks (that’s what my husband does) or lockers or their work tables.
- Necessities. Think of them as campers. They do not have access to a grocery store or mall or Amazon or CVS. Some of them may have ship stores but with all of them there, the supply might not hold for everyone. And you would want your service member to use what s/he’s been used to at home. This includes toiletries, body wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving kit, hair care products, makeup, lotion and anything you can think of. We added a small First-Aid kit, just in case. And face masks and hand soap will all be very useful nowadays. Also, shaving kit and trimmers are awesome ideas.
- Goodies. Pack all the snacks, canned goods, noodles, or whatever your service member would like. Just no bars of chocolates. Because they will melt. But hey, you can send them M&M’s as they are initially designed for soldiers. My husband loved his M&M’s minis from my kid.
- Clothing and Pajamas. These service members wear the same clothes every single day. So it’ll be very helpful for them if they receive extra shirts, shorts, and most especially, undies and pajamas. We sent my husband some loungewear just so he could somehow feel that he’s home with us. And we’re planning to send him matching Christmas jammies.
- For Entertainment. They live and sleep on the boat or wherever they’re assigned to every single day without going out. So, what’s the best way to provide them entertainment than for you to send it to them. It can be USB with downloaded movies or shows or books and magazines that they can read on their break. As for my husband, we sent him a deck of playing cards and some games that he can play with his co-workers to pass time.
- Others. I’m saying “others”. But what I really meant are some things that you think will be helpful or some things that will inspire your service members or things that will make them feel loved. We included lot of handwritten letters in the box with captions “Open Me when you’re about to sleep or Open Me on Monday”. You can also send cards and other small gifts. We love this one so much. Very affordable yet very well-thought of. One more thing is this water bottle. My husband really loved the idea of this. I always wonder if he’s drinking clean water (again, because of their supply). So, I decided we’ll get him a water-filtering water bottle and just send him more water filters.
If you don’t feel like buying and packing all these things, some stores offer customizable care packages that you can choose from and they’ll ship it out to them. Linking some of my recommendations:
Never Include This!
If you’re new to sending care packages, please make sure, you read through this and NEVER include any of this in the package.
- Carbonated Beverages
- Cigarettes or Nicotine
- Anything Flammables like lighters, lighter fluid
- Lithium Batteries
- Aerosol (this can explode)
- Pornographic Images