Whether for a deployed military member or college student, today we rounded up 50 things to pack in a care package!
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One of the best wins to do when a spouse or
50 Things to Pack in a Care Package
I chose to make this list have 50 things to pack in a care package to give some options! They’re probably deployed long enough that you’ll want to send more than one, and if other people ask you what your deployed spouse wants or needs, this is a way to make sure they don’t get 100 pens.
I initially made this list with deployed military members in mind, but it works for college students as well.
Food: it’s the obvious thing to include for a reason. Sending tastes of home is one of the best things to send. I know my husband never bothered with the DFAC for breakfast, so keeping him stocked with cereal bars and protein bars made sure he had something to grab on his way out the door.
There’s tons of debate over whether you should send homemade cookies. I know people who do, and others who would never consider it. The reality is that best case scenario, they’ll take at least a week to reach them. So if you ship homemade cookies, individually wrap them in saran wrap to keep them from getting too stale.
- candy – avoid chocolate
- clif bars
- oatmeal creme pies or other little debbies snacks
- frosting – if you can’t mail a birthday cake, this may be the next best thing!
- trail mix
- k-cups or instant coffee
- freeze dried fruit
- fruit leather
- mio or other water flavoring
- their favorite cereal – either individual sized or take off the cardboard box of the big size
- pop tarts or cereal bars
- sunflower seeds
- chex mix
- ramen noodles
There are tons of different deployment scenarios and it’s worth taking that into account. Are they unreachable most of the time, so this package may sit for a few weeks before they get it? Can they shop for necessities?
My husband has been at a big enough spot that there was a shop for basics. So I didn’t both with sending toothpaste, but I did send his preferred scent of deodorant because you can’t be picky when you’re deployed, right?
- deodorant or products they love
- hand sanitizer
Straightforward: books, movies, magazines. Things to pass the time. That you don’t care if they make it back stateside again.
- photo book
- post its
- bananagrams or other small games
- switch, gameboy or handheld game device
- Sudoku books
- deck of cards
Home Supplies & Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous stuff can be not too exciting, but it’s super helpful. You can never have enough pens, and having those hand wipe packs are always useful.
If they’re in any kind of “room,” something as simple as command strip hooks or tape and photos let them settle into what’s probably a pretty spartan living space.
Fun, Celebratory, & Silly
This is where you can really personalize it to you and your servicemember. From holiday decorations to gag gifts to letters, this might be the best part.
Logan’s favorite thing in his birthday box? A tiny book of photos of puppies tasting peanut butter for the first time. I found it in the clearance section and knew I had to get it for the next care package, and he loved it!
- gag gifts – no shame, I’ve sent this and this
- googly eyes
- “open when” letters
- art from your kids, friends’ kids, or nieces and nephews
- letters from friends
- cute holiday stuff (decorations, party hats, or other fun)
- souvenirs from any travels you take while they’re gone
If this list isn’t helpful enough, I’ve made a downloadable version to inspire you as you shop!
A final thought: shipping
Shipping can get expensive really fast. But USPS tries to help you out with its flat rate Priority boxes. You can have them ship you free boxes, then pay a flat rate (read: weight doesn’t matter!) to ship them Priority. You can even fill out the paperwork on their website and not have to wait in line at the post office. Best of all, Priority shipping treats APO address (many of the overseas military addresses are APO) as domestic so shipping is only $10-17 per box, depending on the size.
I know it’s sometimes hard to figure out what to pack in a care package, but hopefully this list will get you started.
I’d love to hear your ideas – what’s your favorite thing to include in a care package?
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