We were a military family for four years. In fact, my husband was deployed to Afghanistan with my first pregnancy and to Iraq with my second. It got to be a joke among the 98 Charlies that “If Anne is pregnant, we’re going to be deployed soon.” Sending care packages to my husband brought both of us a great deal of joy, and I learned over the years what he (and the others in his unit) liked best.
So here are some tips for getting together your next care package, whether it’s for a relative, a friend or a stranger who serves. Before getting started, check out the free military care kits from the United States Postal Service.
What Soldiers Love To Get In Care Packages
Here are the items that were most popular and/or useful:
- Non-perishable food (snack mix, trail mix, dried fruit and nuts, jerky, chips, crackers, popcorn, protein and granola bars, etc.)
- Powdered drink mixes (tea, cappuccino, Kool-Aid, Crystal Lite, etc.)
- Candy, gum and breath mints
- Light reading material (magazines, hometown newspaper) and books
- Toiletries (if you can, check first and see if they are short on anything)
- Hand and foot warmers (depending on the climate)
- Shoe inserts/insoles
- Home baked goods (only what keeps well and can withstand temperature fluctuations – TIP: pack homemade cookies in empty Pringle cans)
- Seasonings (small bottles of hot sauce, BBQ sauce, Taco Bell packets, etc. – very securely wrapped)
- Photos and family artwork
- Home videos on a portable data storage device (like a jump drive)
- Humor (funny stories, comic books)
- Romantic tokens (a handwritten card with a dab of your perfume on it, a small framed picture of the two of you, an engraved gift, etc.)
- Visa and Mastercard gift cards that can be used internationally
- Phone cards
- Posters (to liven up the living quarters)
- Small games (travel size, packs of cards, puzzle books, etc.)
- AA and AAA batteries
- Basic healthcare items (lip balm, pain relief, antacid, etc.)
- Seasonal items (i.e. tied to a current holiday)
Things to keep in mind as you pack your box:
- It may be weeks in transit
- It may get squashed or thrown around
- It’s super nice to send extra items for soldiers that may not ever get care packages of their own
- Some things are contraband (prohibited) and can get a soldier in trouble including drugs (non-OTC), alcohol, weapons, and explicit/vulgar items. Check with the unit just in case there are items specifically prohibited where they are deployed.
Have you sent a military care package before? Which items were most popular?