Care Package 1-“OH!”-1

What to send. How to send it.

Care-headYear-round, sending care packages to troops across the globe is handled with care. During the holidays, thinking outside of the box can result in some really big smiles over thousands of miles. Here are a handful of mindful ideas for assembling something that will mean everything to your service member during a time of year where they are missing family most—along with a few details on navigating shipping from home base:



  • Zombie—Decks of zombie-themed playing cards, plastic army guy-sized figurines, movies from the $5 and $10 bins at the discount store and gummi brains make for a good and ghouly, out-of-the-ordinary surprise.
  • Got Game?—UNO, hand-held games (with extra batteries), even marbles and jacks. Bop-it, SIMON, Trivia, checkers, Yahtzee, Bananagrams ,and the latest popular game, “We Didn’t Playtest This At All”—with the simple objective of, well, winning, would all be hits, so don't miss them.


  • Feed Them—Savory? Sweet? Anything on the edible spectrum from pre-packaged junk food to homemade favorites is smart to ship. Think whatever will feed their appetite for home and satisfy them in the short-term. Consider sending a gastro-gift from an online store—some tasty treats can be shipped FREE to members of the service, like Hickory Farms and Butter Maid Bakery —if it’s not said on site, it’s worth a customer service call to ask if one of your favorite vendors will waive their shipping rates, too.
  • Sports—Baseballs, tennis balls, footballs, Frisbees, an issue of Sports Illustrated or other favorite sports magazine, a copy of “Rudy” (it makes every man cry), some memorabilia from their favorite team—anything they are a fan of!


  • Kid Stuff—Have the kids get their hands on some things before you send them to your service member. Decorating silly socks, making magnets for display on metal lockers, filling a small container with dirt or sand from a favorite park or beach to serve as a little piece of home—literally—can mean so much. Keep your loved one in the loop on schoolwork, too: Include some graded homework sheets (especially the ones with the sparkling stars)!
  • With Love—Share something special—something secret—with your sweetheart every day of the week with Monday-Sunday mini-packages or give them even more to smile about by including any number of “open when” envelopes. (Ex: when you’re happy, lonely, you go to bed, you’ve had a long day, it’s your last night, etc…). Include special photographs, their favorite T-shirt, a book you want to share (add sweet nothings in the margins when the mood strikes), anything that reminds your other that there is no other like them.


  • Favorite Things—It’s not just an annual episode of Oprah. Gather up mini-versions of your favorite things from toothpaste to snacks, comic books to games—you know which goodies are good enough!
  • Share Package—Pack plenty of EVERYTHING so they can share with their friends! Food, party favors (think silly string), powdered drinks, paperback books, even a Hulu subscription (so they can gather around an ipad and watch their favorite shows).


Delegate Delivery—It’s okay if you don’t have time to assemble and ship, or if you think it’s a great idea to send one to an Armed Forces member at random who may not otherwise receive a care package. Operation Gratitude sends 100,000+ boxes filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation to individual US Service Members, children left behind and veterans, annually.

Sign, Seal & Deliver—Don’t forget to go over the details post-assembly and pre-shipping:

  • Check on size and weight restrictions for packages
  • Place anything that may spill or leak in heavy plastic zipper-lock bags
  • Use reusable packing material (cushion items with small packages of tissues, copies of the local paper, bags filled with popcorn or anything you can think of that your service member will be able to use.
  • Check shipping time, especially holiday “ship by” dates, to ensure your package is delivered when you want.

The USPS offers free mailing supplies to APO/FPO addresses. To order a Military Pak call 1-800-610-8374 or ask your local Post Office.


About the author: Heidi Alger

Heidi Alger is the mother of two low-maintenance, high-energy kids under the age of 10. She offers financial guidance, budget tips and lifestyle advice keeping the challenges of modern military families in line, writing alongside an award-winning team at Pioneer Services. Her grandfather, a CW04, served in the Army Security and National Security Agencies during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Follow Heidi on Google+.

Contact: Heidi Alger


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