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Everything You Need to Know About Sending Holiday Care Packages

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The tree’s up.

The carols are on.

The presents are (mostly) bought.

And there’s still a care package that needs to be sent. Maybe you’ve been avoiding it because it reminds you of the person who won’t be with you this holiday season. Maybe you just haven’t gotten to it on your list yet. Maybe there’s another reason. But no matter what, there’s a care package–at least one– that needs to be sent.

Super smart and helpful information about sending mail during the holidays. #xmas #christmas #thanksgiving #hanukkah #newyears#carepackages #care #mail #happymail #missionary #missionaries #college #collegestudents #deployment #military #navy #milspouse #milspouses #jomygosh #milso #milsos #milspo #milspos #army #arng #coastguard #ldr #deployment #airforce #marines #ldr #longdistance #longdistancerelationship #advice

Here’s exactly what you need to know to get that care package made and sent to your loved one on time.

Deadlines and timing

Unlike other times of the year, the Christmas and holiday season has higher mail volumes as well as deadlines. You’ll always want to check the USPS’ website for their holiday deadlines. (You can also see 2020’s mail deadlines on Jo, My Gosh!) Remember that the post office cannot guarantee that packages sent by the deadline will arrive on-time– especially if you’re sending APO/FPO/DPO.

If you’ve been sending care packages to the same address for some time, you probably have a good idea of how long it will take based on previous experiences. Even so, make sure you’re using the USPS holiday deadlines as a guide.

Care package inspiration

Use these ideas to create your own Christmas care package:

Christmas isn’t the only holiday that happens during the holiday season. There’s Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s, Winter Solstice, and Boxing Day, just to name a few. No matter what your family celebrates, there are certainly themes and ideas that can help you create a care package that’s meaningful and special. While I don’t have care package ideas (yet!) for every holiday, these can get you started:

A reminder about emotions

The holidays are an overwhelming and emotional time for many people. Adding the absence of a loved one, whether because of deployment, training, or another reason, can supercharge it and make you feel especially vulnerable. Don’t let that cloud your judgment, especially when it comes to sending care packages. Even though it’s the holidays, don’t send things– like alcohol–that are prohibited. Don’t spend a bazillion dollars overnighting a package on Christmas Eve.

Guard against a disaster

You’ve double-checked the address and used more packing tape than necessary to close the box, but are you sure that your care package will get there intact… and mess-free? Make sure that you’re taking extra precautions, especially since many holiday items that often end up in care packages might need an extra bit of love and care. Use these tips to make sure your care package gets to its destination disaster-free:

Think small

While we often want to go over the top for the holidays, think small for care packages. Often, your loved one won’t have space to safely store large, expensive gifts. And then when it’s time to come home for deployment, they might not be able to bring that gift home either. Instead, go the route of consumable, usable, and inexpensive gifts. Think stocking stuffers! Need some help getting started? These 102 stocking stuffer ideas are sure to inspire.

Nontraditional care package ideas

Not all military spouses love making care packages. And that’s okay! If you’re not in the care package-making spirit, there are other ways you can still send (really great!) happy mail for the holidays. There are many retailers who offer APO/FPO/DPO (that’s military) shipping, so you can order online, write a little note, and have it shipped as a gift, all without having to glue a single thingawhatzy to a box. If you want to send a more traditional care package this holiday season, check out Troopster, a nonprofit that not only sells and ships custom care packages but also donates them to troops around the world. (Oh, and did I mention its founder is an amazing military spouse and Navy veteran?) And yes, Troopster even has a holiday-themed care package.

It’ll be okay

No matter what happens with your care package this holiday season, it’ll be okay. I promise. If the box gets there on time, if it gets lost, if you never end up sending one, if it shows up drenched in cologne that broke… it’ll all be okay and it will be a story that you one day look back on, tell to a new military spouse, and laugh about.

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