You must know someone deployed, or leaving soon since you’re interested in care package contents!
I took my previous experience as a military spouse combined with input of some active duty military members to curate a list of the best items to include in a deployment box!
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Yes they get fed, but who doesn’t like a midnight snack?
- Condiments- My husband is a chic-fil-a nut. I sent him a couple individual sauce packets and he talked about them non-stop. Consider sending a few packets of hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, and some of their other favorite sauces.
- Individual food packs- Don’t plan on there being a fridge or freezer. Normally there is a microwave. Plus, do you really want to ship something that needs to stay cold? Consider food like trail mix packs, individual chips, nuts, their favorite candy.
- Silverware- Throw some plastic silverware in the box if you’re sending food!
- Hydration- There are a bunch of options on the market right now for individual pouches and small squirt bottles that turn water into anything you want! You can send over the individual coffee bags, gatorade pouches, or the normal water flavoring pouches!
Care packages are all about making deployed military members’ lives easier. They can usually pick up what they need, but it is generally more expensive. Help them save what little bit of extra money they’re making.
- Toiletries- All of the classic shower luxuries like razors, soap, shaving cream, etc.
- Baby wipes- For the days they don’t feel like suffering through a cold shower.
- Lysol- The customs form is going to tell you things like this aren’t allowed… Bend the rules and don’t write it on there. Buy mini cans and send those bad boys over! If you’re too scared to do that, then consider sending poo-pourri!
- Lotion- They’re doing a lot of hard work outside and their skin is taking a beating. The female service members find this especially important.
- Sanitation items- Using public restrooms never gets more comfortable.. especially for the ladies. Things like a fabric shower caddy and toilet seat covers make their experience a little more tolerable.
- Sunscreen- I wouldn’t recommend sending the aerosol bottles, but sunscreen is a huge necessity on deployment!
- Chapstick- Right next to sunscreen is chapstick. Figure out their favorite brand! If you want it to be a surprise, then consider sending vaseline. I’ve found that to be an excellent protectant for cracked lips.
They weren’t necessarily considering long-term comfort whenever they were packing their bags.. It was all about saving space.
- Socks- One of the biggest recommendations from female soldiers was the importance of sending socks. You know how easily those things get eaten by the dryer and go missing!
- Lounge clothes- Depending on the weather where they are, shorts or sweatpants are a great gift!
- Flip-flops- They’re wearing boots a whole lot of the time, so give them something to let their feet breathe! This also double as shower shoes. Buy cheap ones like this so they can toss them at the end of deployment without feeling guilty.
- Shoe insoles- They spend a ton of time on their feet. High quality shoe insoles are very important.
Most people think about sending toiletries and food, but the options are endless when it comes to care packages!
- Pictures- One of my husband’s favorite gifts was pictures of our little boy. I printed wallet photos and laminated them with these easy to use self-laminating pouches so they wouldn’t get messed up. They’re super affordable, so you can’t go wrong!
- Neck pillow- Flights to and from deployment are cramped and long. They’ll appreciate a good neck pillow, believe me.
- Cleaning products- Definitely don’t send jumbo sized cans of lysol foaming spray, but throwing in a few packs of the lysol wipes or wet ones wipes is acceptable.
- Air fresheners- One of the most creative suggestions that I received from some military members was that car trees and other deodorizers are a big hit when it comes to care package contents. Outlets are at a minimal, so the car trees are better than the wall plug-ins.
- Entertainment- Most bases have some playing cards readily accessible, but there isn’t much to do to pass the time! Puzzles like crosswords and sudoku are happily received. For those that don’t like to read, headphones are a big plus. I personally have a pair of these off-brand wireless headphones, and I think the sound quality is good for the affordable price point!
- Stationary- Nothing tops hand written letters and pictures drawn by little kids!
Care package options for busy people
If you’re too busy to drive around town picking up care package supplies, that is totally okay! Amazon has made things easy for you, and they have a wide selection of pre-made care packages that can be sent to deployed soldiers. One company on Amazon, Crave Box, has a care package that has 45 different food and snack items in it and it only costs $25!
Things to keep in mind
- Space is limited!!
- There are a lot of wonderful military non-profits that are sending them goodies like candy and coffee.
- Unfortunately, care packages can very inconveniently “go missing”. USPS isn’t very reliable and the tracking on your care package is pointless. I wrote a whole article on mailing care packages, so if you’re looking for tips and tricks you can check it out here!
- There aren’t a ton of outlets.
- Avoid chocolate or gummies during the summer months. They melt into a brick.
Please, send me pictures of your deployment care packages! I love to see them. Comment down below and tell me what are your favorite care package contents to send or receive.
Remember, keep deployment dates and locations private. Always follow OPSEC!