A military care package can be just what a soldier needs to get over a hump in a long deployment, to celebrate a holiday or birthday, or to recover from a stay in the infirmary. When putting together your care packages, it’s essential to put some careful thought into what you choose to include.
Some things aren’t appropriate to send, while others may just add unnecessary clutter. Soldiers need to keep their belongings light and their housing tidy.
If you are wondering what troops really want in care packages, keep reading.
1. Letters and Personal Mail
When you are in the military, nothing beats receiving a personalized letter from a family member, friend, or significant other. Depending on their deployment or if they’re in boot camp, squadrons may have policies about phone and email use, which is why a letter sent through the mail can feel extra special.
If you purchase a pre-made care package or ship goods directly, you often have the option of including a letter. Stationery, pens, and other writing utensils can be rare commodities, so consider including them in your care package as well.
A couple of things to keep in mind when sending military packages:
One of the most important things to consider when sending letters, personal mail, or military care packages to troops is the location where they are stationed. Unlike shipping care packages domestically, shipping military packages internationally requires special designation.
It can get a bit complicated, but just know that you must mark the “cities” and “states” on your package.
The three military “cities” are:
- APO (Army Post Office)
- FPO (Fleet Post Office)
- DPO (Diplomatic Post Office)
The three military “states” are:
- AA (Armed Forces America)
- AE (Armed Forces Europe)
- AP (Armed Forces Pacific)
Many items on sale from online retailers are specifically designated to be sent to FPO and APO addresses, which then get shipped overseas. Military personnel especially like _,_,_,_, and _.
Many people assume shipping through the USPS is free when using a military mail kit, but only the packaging is free—you still must pay for postage to any non-combat zone military personnel.
Soldiers can spend months without seeing their family members, especially when deployed in an active zone or internationally.
Having a tangible photo to keep on their person, in their duffel, or by their bunk will keep their loved ones near for those days when the soldier can’t call or video chat.
A common image many people have about deployed service members consists of troops gathered around smoking cigars or cigarettes and playing cards. Playing cards remains a timeless pastime in and out of the military.
A deck of cards makes a great military care package item, as does a poker set or casino-themed item.
Other good game options are hacky sacks, dice, portable or strategy games, and word puzzles.
Avoid sending video games, DVDs, or other electronics because they may not be able to use them or in an environment where these items are easily damaged.
What troops really want in care packages is toiletries and clothing. Access to these things, especially from their favorite brand, is almost impossible if they are deployed overseas, but can even be difficult to get their hands on when they’re deployed in the U.S.
When putting together a military care package, include practical items like toothbrushes, compression socks, and heat packs.
Also, consider gifting:
- Disposable towels
- Disposable razors
- Tissue packs
- Baby wipes
- Feminine hygiene products
5. Everyone Loves Good Food
Everyone loves a home-cooked meal and fresh-baked food. Unfortunately, because of shipping and delivery times, it can be difficult to send homemade food without it spoiling. It can often take around two weeks for a service member to receive a package.
However, that doesn’t mean good food options don’t exist.
Send non-perishable items like:
- Drink Mixes
Cookies and “Cake-in-a-Jar” can also work well, depending on how long the gift will sit before it’s opened.
One of the most important factors to consider when sending food through the mail is how it’s packaged. Wrap things individually—even non-food items—and keep food items separated from non-food items.
Also, if you know the person you are sending the military care package to, check with them beforehand to see how they plan to cook or prepare the food you send.
Send Comfort to the Troops
Military care packages are a great way to show a soldier you care. They’re also a touching way to show a military family you care. Military families often get overlooked, but they, too, are under a lot of stress. A care package can help everyone relax and indulge in a special treat.
Consider sending a meal to a family while they have a service member deployed—or even as a celebration when he or she comes home. Our full soup meals are delicious and take hardly any preparation.
Spoonful of Comfort also offers packages with all non-perishable items. (Think comforting blankets, socks, toiletries, and more.) They’re perfect for sending to APO, FPO, and DPO boxes, or even to troops with an irregular schedule at their barracks or base.
If you need help putting together a military care package or would like to send out a gift package, consider one of the many options from Spoonful of Comfort.
Bring a bit of comfort to a serviceman or woman’s life today, and get in touch with questions about our collections or for help putting together something more personalized.