When John was deployed, I became pretty much best friends with the folks at the post office. It’s what happens when you show up at least once a week and have obnoxiously decorated boxes that make you… memorable (yeah, we’ll go with memorable).
I dropped a considerable amount of money at that post office on shipping. But one thing I never had to spend money on? Packing supplies.
I’m not joking.
I didn’t spend a dime on boxes or labels. And I had plenty of free packing tape (although sometimes I did use more colorful duct tape and patterned tape).
Here’s how you can make that happen for yourself:
The USPS offers free Priority Mail boxes and supplies both in person and online. It’s very easy to take advantage of, and you don’t have to do very much at all to get them through either method.
Nearly every–if not every–post office has free Priority Mail supplies available, usually in an organized bin in a common area or underneath at table where you can fill out customs forms by the help desk. Usually they have two kinds of boxes available: Express and Flat Rate. (For the best savings when sending care packages, you want the Flat Rate boxes.) There are usually two types of envelopes available (a flexible mailer and a cardboard one) and then a small, two types of medium boxes, and one large box. You can take as many of these products home with you to fill. You don’t need to check them out at the help desk and there are no federally imposed limits on what you can take (although your local post office may request you only take a few at a time as a courtesy to others).
If getting to the post office can be a pain for you, you want bulk supplies, or you want different supplies, let’s talk about the USPS’ website. Through their store, you can order all kinds of Priority Mail Flat Rate supplies for free– there’s no shipping fees or product fees. It’s literally 100% free. And they’ll deliver whatever you request straight to your door. (Unless you have a PO Box… then they’ll deliver to the post office.)
You can order boxes in quantities of ten or 25. This is perfect if you’re gathering supplies for an extended period of time, a care package party, or are distributing to other folks as well.
USPS’ website makes things like customs forms, adhesive customs form pockets, and labels available for Priority Flat Rate users. You can order these in bulk on the website as well. Be careful– not everything in the USPS shop is free, so you do want to make sure that your cost is $0.00 for any items that you request.
Military Care Kit
USPS provides a Military Care Kit by request at no charge. In the kit are multiple boxes, custom forms, labels, and Priority packing tape. You can order the kit by going here or by calling 1-800-610-8734 and requesting it by name.
Looking for more care package help (including ways to keep costs down)? Try these articles:
- 40 Ways to Save Money on Care Packages
- The Gigantic List of Free Care Packages for Deployed Service Members
- Here’s What Troops Really Want in a Care Package