Care packages are one of those things that are at the center of deployment for military significant others. For me, they were always a tangible way to connect with John and take care of him, even when he was 7,000 miles away. It was nice to know that, when he got mail, there would be at least a few minutes of his day that weren’t the same-old, same-old. (After all, there’s no one who doesn’t like getting mail or opening a gift! And if you say you don’t, you’re lying. Just sayin’.)
I thought I’d tap into the collective knowledge of military significant others. I put up the Bat Signal (or whatever is the equivalent… the Camo Signal? the MilSO Signal?) and got a lot of amazing responses from amazing women! (Thanks to everyone who contributed!) Read on for a ton of great ideas!!
What to Send
“My husband takes a Pyrex measuring cup with him. I send any microwaveable meals, as well as the laundry detergent pods.”- Amy
“Try to send them a few weeks before a major holiday! My husband has gotten all of our packages weeks late. We send photo books of a session we did at home so it’s a nice surprise to have something tangible of us in the care package. I like to send AAFES gift cards for small things we can pick up. Also small crafts like what our son colored for him is nice to send.” -Dina from Blueberries and Bokeh
“I always have to send Sriracha sauce.” – Tracy
“Even though, say, there is a Tim Horton’s or Wendy’s in the main base, the person you are sending the package to may not be in a position to take advantage of it. Many well meaning friends wanted to bless my husband with Tim Horton’s gift cards when they opened one at the Kandahar Airfield. Only my husband is armoured Recce (Recon), so he spent 5 days of 7 months at the base and came home with $87 in gift certificates. ” Kim from She is Fierce
“I learned (through another wife) that the scrapbook paper at Michaels fits perfect. One sheet does two flaps of a large flat rate box from USPS. I always buy when they have it on sale for 4 sheets for $1.00 or (even better) 6 sheets for 1.00. Whwn I use the glitter paper, buy lettered stickers, the decorations I use an online Michaels coupon plus they also gove a military discount. Also, Hobby Lobby had half off stickers, glitter paper about twice a month. I hit up all of the clearance sections….most everywhere I go. I now have a care package arsenal of everything imaginable!!! “- Marlena
“Dollar Store is your best friend! Plus!! They give out coupons!!! Couponing is great! Email any company you can think of, send them commentary of how much your service member loves their particular product and you would like sample sizes/coupons to send them a piece of home!! Sure you could get rejected but I got GREAT coupons from the ones who said yes!”- Tracy
“Never underestimate the Dollar Store! When Gene was in Afghanistan I sent him one care package a week. They always have a seasonal section with cutesy stuff to send for no reason other than him having something to open and the toy aisle is a gold mine! I didn’t care if the stuff got tossed and not carried back home, but it made it so the box was filled with something more than just treats. He always got a kick out of the little things I would tuck in there– army men, cheap water guns, hilarious stuffed animals (like a hot pink love monkey I included in his Valentine’s box)!” -Elizabeth from The Young Retiree
” I’ve cut a pattern for the [box] side flaps (to make [decorating] each box easier, quicker.) And I have all of my neighborhood friends and other friends over for Box Day! I make cards, crafts, boxes….all sorta stuff!!!!” -Marlena
“Consider location and your hubby’s job. Chocolates to the desert is a no go, and a very hot climate should necessitate that all the things be packed in individual baggies in case they melt (my hubby has definitely received ONE multi-coloured Wine Gum the size of a Costco bag…).” -Kim from She is Fierce
“Make sure the package is a size he can carry. I once sent my husband a fairly large box (for Christmas with 31 days worth of gifts inside) and he had a really hard time getting it back to his room. He said it was one of the longest two-mile walks of his life. Whoops!” – Jessica Lynn from Jessica Lynn Writes
“The best way to ship cupcakes: 1) Put them into a gallon Ziploc bag (can fit 10-11 in each). 2) Put Ziploc bag into a regular-size shirt gift box (snag these after Christmas for a good deal!). 3) Two shirt gift boxes fit perfectly into a flat rate APO box with tissue paper around them. The cupcakes arrive undamaged and you have 2 or so leftover for yourself — I have pictures of my husband licking the glaze out of the Ziploc bags during his deployment.” -Vanessa from Bible, Beer & Babies
“To keep cookies/brownies fresh, add a slice of bread to the top. I pack mine in those plastic containers lunch meats come in. I line it with saran wrap then add as many cookies/brownies as possible, then bread on top, then wrap the saran wrap. Then I add the lid and tape everything air tight with packing tape. [It] Should keep it fresh, unless the mail decides to lose your package for a few months… (You may want to make sure they know not to eat the bread, just in case and so they aren’t wondering why is there bread in there.)” -Kara from Green Mtn Girl
What tips and advice do you have for other care package makers?