Filling care packages is serious business. Between rules on what you can and can’t send, things spoiling or melting during the shipping process and making sure your loved enjoys what you send, it’s not as easy as it looks! Most military spouses find what works, what their loved one likes and buy it bulk! Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I oftentimes find myself falling into a rut of just sending food. For my husband, that’s not his favorite kind of care package to receive so I try to remember that there are so many other care package contents that aren’t food.
Care Package Contents That Aren’t Food
Being deployed doesn’t mean free time disappears. In fact, sometimes it feels like my husband has more time to read while deployed than he does at home. He loves getting magazines and books in his care packages. Now, books can get expensive so consider purchasing them from a used bookstore to save a little extra money. Plus if they don’t come back from deployment, it’s not as big of a deal.
I also like the idea of sending local newspapers in care packages. Yes, they will be a bit out of date by the time they arrive, but there’s something about reading local news that makes home feel a bit closer. Our small town puts together a quarterly magazine so I always try and send that in a care package.
Photos are the perfect care package contents. They don’t take up a lot of space (in the box or at their final destination) and go a long way to brightening someone’s day. You could send a few in each care package or put together an album with lots of pictures.
Letters and cards fall in the same category as photos: lots of meaning in a small amount of space. You can gather them from friends and family and send them a little at a time. Don’t forget to include a few of your own and seal them with a kiss!
While deployed troops do have access to toiletries while overseas, there’s something about using your brand of shampoo that makes things a little easier. I like sending my husband his favorite brands, especially at the start of a deployment to make him feel a little more at home. P.S. there’s a toiletry care package available in my shop to help make your toiletry care package extra special!
Clothing can be a great thing to send because it’s useful and is a good space filler. I like to use any clothing my husband needs (or has forgotten to pack) to cushion any fragile items. Tuck a few dryer sheets into any clothing you send so things stay fresh.
I wouldn’t send a ton of these because they can get expensive and may not make it back, but CDs and movies are a nice change of pace from all food. Most stores have a $5 bin which is a good place to start; the selection may not be too big, but you will save some money. You may also be able to find used movies or CDs to help keep the cost down.
iTunes gift cards
While CDs and movies are fun, they do take up a lot of space so consider iTunes cards a good alternative. Your loved one can redeem them for music, movies or TV shows without adding a lot of stuff to their already cramped space. Just make sure they have a computer or iPad with them.
Artwork from little ones
This is a great way to get children involved in care packages which is something that deployed parents (or aunts and uncles) probably appreciate. You could make these art projects seasonal or just give little ones crayons and paper and let their imagination run wild. Pictures drawn by loved ones will brighten up even the dreariest of overseas rooms.
This item may not be for everyone, but a puzzle book (crossword, word search, sudoku, etc.) could be a great way for your loved one to pass their free time. You could also send play cards, small board games or actual puzzles depending on what kinds of things your loved enjoys.
Last, but certainly not least, are holiday decorations! With so many holidays right around the corner, stores are full of potential care package contents. I would make sure to only send cheap items that you’re ok with your loved one leaving overseas.
Care package contents don’t just have to be food! The only limit is your imagination and your loved one’s preferences. Next time you get ready to send a care package, see how creative you can get with its contents!