Tips for a Creative Care Package

During deployment service members will tell you there is nothing better than receiving stuff from home!

I tend to send tons of letters  and get the first few care packages off without a hitch… then I am at a loss of what else to send. While my spouse assured me repeated packages with the same favorite items are still loved and appreciated, I still wanted some new ideas.

We asked our community of military spouses and they came up with some tips and ideas for care packages that you can look forward to making, and your spouse can look forward to receiving.

Here are some fun ideas and tips:

Try Themes

You can get creative with your packages by having a central theme for each item. Here are some theme ideas to get you started:

A Day with You

For this package, you should make a camera your sidekick. Take pictures of you doing typical activities throughout the day, and then pair a gift with each. Snap a photo of you getting out of bed in the morning and send a new pillowcase with your scent.
Doing yard work? Some spouses will send a bag of lawn clippings for a simple reminder of home. Other ideas are watching a movie and sending the DVD; eating a meal and sending a vacuum-sealed version; and throwing a Frisbee around with the dog/kids/friends and sending a Frisbee. Get creative with your day and help your military member feel a bit at home.

Tips to creating a unique care package

Movies are one of the most requested items.

Send a Showtime

You can’t send a movie theatre, but you can send the goodies that go along with one. Send your spouse a favorite movie or a new-release DVD to enjoy with his buddies along with some snacks. You can pop popcorn and vacuum seal it for the shipping as well as send theater candies and nacho supplies. As a bonus, you can make a picture of you into a movie poster or create a ticket stub.

Fun in the Sun

With much of our military stationed in the Middle East, your spouse may have plenty of sun. Your job is to send the fun. You can send your spouse dollar-store squirt guns and beach balls to play with. Also when temperatures head towards triple digits, a Popsicle is always a treat. Send your spouse the flavor ice pops, and for fun, individualize each pop with a fun message.

Other Gestures:

Date Reservation

You can send your spouse a date card with a specific time for you two to be together in thought under the sky or wherever you decide. It’ll be a long distance connection and a reminder of your love for each other.

Personalized Items

Spouses have gotten creative with things to personalize. Some ideas include pillowcases, T-shirts, blankets, mugs, calendars and even soaps. See what you can come up with!

Newspapers, Magazines and Books

Depending on what your spouse likes, you can send a series of books or a favorite magazine subscription. Some wives like to pre-read newspapers and circle items that stand out. It’s almost as if they’re discussing the news together.

Practical Package Tips

Soldier carrying packages from home

Check items with FRG or your soldier before sending anything unusual, units often have individual rules on what can be sent in packages.

Do

  • Invest in a vacuum sealer. You can send baked treats like cookies or protect the glass in picture frames from breaking.
  • Take into account the resources your spouse has. If there isn’t time for your spouse to brew coffee, or they are without a microwave for tea or hot cocoa, consider sending alternate resources like an electric kettle.
  • Remember that all packages are inspected, don’t send anything dangerous, sharp, flammable OR anything your spouse wouldn’t be ok with his commander seeing (that means some soldiers would prefer it to stay PG, check with your spouse first before sending any items that may be too “personal”)
  • Send several smaller packages rather than one huge package. The smaller the package, the faster it arrives. USPS recommends under 6 pounds.
  • Send in advance. If you are trying to get it by a certain date, send it plenty of time in advance, seriously, up to 30 days in advance.

Don’t

  • Send glass jars without ample protection. Your packages made have a lot of love and care put into them, but it doesn’t mean the couriers will treat it with such.
  • Send too many well-supplied items. Service members often get a large supply of toothpaste and toothbrushes, but not enough socks. Talk to your spouse about specific needs of the group and try to stick to those. For the rest of the package, send some fun.
  • Send anything that melts. Many soldiers love chocolate and may even request it but after travelling through the 120 degree weather in Iraq or Afghanistan it will be gross, I promise! Think about each item and how heat and travel time will affect them.
  • Send hygiene products and food products next to each other. Use ziplock bags, in fact, double bag. You do not want your soldier’s favorite food to taste like Old Spice deodorant.

Photo thanks to The U.S. Army and Luodani via Flickr Creative Commons