The other day I was looking for care package ideas, as always, and I stumbled upon an interesting group on the photo sharing site Flickr, called “13 ounces or less”.
For those less familiar with mail services this is the rule direct from the United States Postal Services:
Things less than or equal to 13 ounces are the easiest to mail because they just require regular stamps or you can print the postage at your computer and they can be mailed from your mailbox or in any postal drop. The upsides are obvious: no standing in line at the post office, no worries about huge shipping costs, these are quick to make and handled more quickly by the mail services, and they take less time to get to your soldier.
I, for one, was amazed at the creativeness and the awesome items included in these small packages. It was a great reminder that, while I love to create big, awesome, packed-with-stuff packages, sometimes little surprises are wonderful too. Let’s face it; even the most dedicated military spouse and family is incapable of sending huge care packages all the time. These 13 ounce surprises are great for the in-between mailings. Check out our keys to making unforgettable packages that are under 13 ounces!
A little known secret of the United States Postal Service is they will mail pretty much anything with a label and postage. So skip the traditional packaging.
You can break up items you were collecting for a larger care package into several smaller packages or, if you are like me, you wind up with a few leftover items that didn’t fit in that last care package; these are great to send in a smaller package.
Dollar stores, sections for party favors, the checkout aisle area and even inside Happy Meals (the toys) are all handy places to find miniature items for these smaller packages. It’s ok to be goofy. I have sent many nonsense items. Sometimes just a laugh from getting these silly things is worth the $1-2 I spent on them!
It may not be that your soldier needs an particular item as much as it shows that you are thinking of your soldier and that you wanted to send something right this second.
Always include a note, even if you tape it to a Frisbee! Remember that the “I love you”, “I miss you”, and “Thinking of you” are more important than anything else you can send!
Send a token or reminder of something at home. Consider sending a small item your soldier can easily carry with him that will be a constant reminder of you. In our house we often exchange “totems.” I still remember when my soldier sent me a single Army man one time and I kept it in my pocket the entire time he was away.
Things to Remember
Follow the standard care package rules and don’t send anything that might melt or be affected by the heat or will be easily damaged
Don’t send items that your spouse is not allowed to have. Packages (even small ones) are inspected regularly
Invest in a food scale. They’re small and you can get inexpensive versions for $5-10. Weigh your packages so you don’t go over 13 ounces.
If your items are valuable you may want to wrap them in paper before sending to keep people from being tempted to tamper. Never mail phone cards or gift cards without outer packaging, the serial numbers can be taken by anyone and used before your soldier receives it
Photo thanks to M Carr via Flickr Creative Commons