We’ve all seen those lists about what to send to soldiers overseas – socks, foot powder, beef jerky, powdered drink mixes, etc. – well that’s all well and good and I’m sure they are grateful to receive it but, it is a little boring. Reminds me of my dad at Christmas when I was growing up saying “wow, socks…thanks” To this day, if we ask him what he wants for any special occasion his response is socks. It’s a running joke in our family. The moral of the story? Have fun putting together your soldier’s packages and be creative!
We’ll start out with holiday packages…
New Year’s Package: Party blowers, confetti, a plastic champagne glass with a promise to toast each other at midnight, any of those crazy year decorations you see people wearing in times square. If you think your soldier will be self conscious about partying it up alone, then send enough for the guys he’s with the most. You can also include your new year’s resolution list.
Valentine’s Day Package: This will be a package full of red! Candy hearts (even a handmade sign/card with the candy hearts spelling out a message), a book of photographs of you and the two of you together (include risqué photos at your own risk!), a sexy pair of panties, a CD of songs you picked out especially for him or a book of love coupons (you can find these in most stores or make your own). During one deployment, I made coupons for my husband and emailed one to him every few days. Not only was it fun but it ensured he would check his email! Be sure to spray something in the box with perfume – you may want to enclose it in a Ziploc bag so the scent remains during the trip. Another fun item is a pair of boxer shorts with your handprints strategically placed over the back.
St. Patrick’s Day: Good to be green! What better than to send your soldier lots of things for good luck! You can send paper shamrocks, a blarney stone, green beads (similar to Mardi Gras beads), green candy, green drink mix and a picture of you with the traditional “Kiss Me I’m Irish” saying on a shirt or button.
Easter: Go ahead and send that Easter basket! Fill it up with all sorts of candies – just be careful about sending chocolate. Even if it is cold where he is, you never know where your package will end up between your home and his. You can also send plastic eggs containing special messages from you or your family.
Halloween: Of course, send Halloween candy. Some may even want a costume depending on what their unit allows. You can also send scary movies if he has access to a TV and DVD player or VCR. Don’t forget the guys in his unit – this holiday is a great one to send treat bags for other soldiers too. Fake pumpkins that can be carved can also be a great surprise.
Thanksgiving: This is always the hardest holiday for me to send packages since it mainly revolves around food. One idea that I’ve heard of others doing that I love is celebrating Thanksgiving early and placing a video camera in the chair where he would sit if he was there. Record the dinner, send him the tape and he can play the tape while he eats his own Thanksgiving dinner. Last Thanksgiving, I sent my soldier substitutes for the traditional dinner. For turkey, he received jerky; for rice, rice cakes; for corn, candy corn; for potatoes, potato chips; the list goes on. It was definitely the most creative package I have put together.
Christmas: Send the tree and all the decorations. You can find miniature trees along with the decorations at the dollar store. This also ensures you won’t spend a lot of money in case he has to leave it behind. Be sure to send battery operated lights and don’t forget to include the batteries. Send a small stocking for him to have as well and of course include his gifts. You can also send Christmas CDs or your favorite Christmas movies. One family I know watches “A Christmas Story” during the 24 hour marathon on TBS each year so they sent the soldier the DVD so he could watch too. Another I know attends a church service each Christmas Eve, knowing he was deploying, they recorded the service last year and he’ll receive the recording in his package so he can at least be there in spirit.
Birthdays: Party in a box! Send cake in a jar (search the net for recipes!), candles, a recording of you singing happy birthday, party blowers, birthday hats and confetti. You can also send message balloons. To do this, blow up a balloon (don’t tie it closed) and write a message on it. Deflate the balloon and put it in his box with instructions to blow it up to get his message. You can also send a certain number of items based on his age. If he’s older and your checkbook would die of shock, you can always include a card/sign with that number of lipstick kisses. Leave it one short and tell him he’ll get that one in person.
Anniversaries: Celebrate another year by sending a CD of your favorite songs, a list of your favorite memories while you were dating or on your honeymoon or from your first years of marriage, a sappy and funny anniversary card, a detailed description of how you will celebrate your anniversary when he’s home – if you plan to give him a massage, include the oil or maybe it includes dinner at a favorite restaurant so you could include a menu.
Do you have other great ideas for care packages? Have you sent your military loved one an especially creative package? Be sure to share your ideas with me!
Stacey Abler is an Army Wife and owner of the website, http://www.marriedtothearmy.com.