Here are some great care package ideas from a fabulous reader, and Facebook fan, Heather E. Sosa:
Involve the Kids
If you have kids, you could have them trace each of their hands on the outside of each of the care package and write their names inside with the date so your soldier can watch them grow every time s/he gets a box. Or you could do the same on a piece of cardstock paper so s/he can collect them throughout the year. Let your kids color their hands with crayons or markers.
New Year’s Care Package Idea
Decorate a box with confetti inside, use glue on the inside of the box and sprinkle glitter, confetti, and ribbons.
Inside: Some party whistles, streamers, horns, Plastic champagne glasses, Sparkling cider (if you package it well, cover with bubble wrap and put inside a plastic bag in case it breaks during shipping), vacuum packaged cheese and crackers, or chips, a cigar, some glow sticks or LED light necklaces.
Valentine’s Day Care Package Idea
Decorate the inside of the box with red or pink paper, glitter, streamers. You could make lipstick kisses on the outside of the box, but just make sure not to use a glossy type of lip shine or lipstick, so it won’t get smeared through postage handling.
Inside: Write a personalized poem just for your soldier. Add an assortment of chocolates, candy hearts, and pictures of you and your kids. You can send a small stuffed animal (remember s/he has to travel home with things you send, so try to keep it to a minimum). A white pillow with a picture of you and/or the kids ironed on so he can sleep with you all every night. If you add perfume to anything, put it in a zip lock baggie to preserve the smell. Make a list of things you love about your soldier. I sent my husband a pair of black boxer shorts with red hearts all over them and I made him my own pairs of underwear. I bought a plain white undies and a pair of white boxer briefs and decorated them myself with glitter glue pens and sent those. I wrote “Property of Mrs. Sosa” on his undies, and “Property of Mr. Sosa” on my undies. I also drew a padlock with glitter. Sorry if that sounds corny. Haha.
Saint Patrick’s Day Care Package Idea:
Decorate the inside of the box with green paper, glitter, etc. Draw shamrocks on the outside of the box.
Inside: Fill with anything and everything green. Green beaded necklaces, (non alcoholic beer if you package well like the champagne bottle above). Confetti poppers, any green candy you can find, one of those plastic St. Patty’s day hats or those shamrock shaped sunglasses.
[I once included mini bars of "Irish Spring" --ed.]
Decorate the inside of the box with pastel colors and fill with Easter grass.
Inside: Send your soldier a box full of plastic eggs with candies or special gifts inside, including pictures, notes, and toys. A small stuffed bunny plush that sings a song. And any of their favorite Easter candies, like marshmallow peeps, or jelly beans.
Memorial Day and Mother’s Day:
Decorate the inside of the box with American flags and flowers (drawn on the inside to save money).
Inside: Fill with different pictures of you and/or your kids. Take pictures of your mommy/daddy duties and activities with the kids. Maybe send a list of all the things he gets to do FOR YOU when he gets back since he missed Mother’s Day. You could include Tea bags, and snacks.
Have a T-Shirt designed/made with a picture of the kids on the front and back and have it say “World’s Greatest Dad” or “#1 Dad” or whatever you’d like it to say. Include a list of the things you will do FOR HIM when he gets back. Send him his favorite snacks, more pictures, maybe something memorable like a gift with “1st Father’s Day” on it. I’m sure you can get something engraved for him.
Decorate the inside of the box red, white and blue, with confetti, streamers, etc. (I like those balloon weights with the shiny stuff sticking up…)
Inside: Send him red, white and blue candies, like AIR HEADS (if they still have those around) Red/white/blue beaded necklaces, Send some popcorn packets and cigar, and party poppers, glow sticks, LED lighted necklaces again. Include you and/or your kids dressed in red/white/blue clothes and edit on Photoshop with a Happy 4th of July border.
Decorate the inside of the box orange, black, and purple.
Inside: Fill with cotton spider webs, and plastic spiders, rats, and skeletons. Include candies, suckers, (I sent my husband a small pumpkin that I drew a face carving with permanent marker). Color scary ghosts, pumpkins, haunted house, etc on the outside of the box. Include pictures of you and/or your kids in their Halloween costumes (if they don’t have them yet, since you’ll be sending this box before Halloween to make sure it gets there on time, include pictures of them from last year’s costumes).
Have your kids trace their hand on brown construction paper and let them glue orange and yellow feathers on the fingers to make turkeys. Send him those prepackages summer sausages, cheese and crackers. Peanuts, cashews, popcorn, or peanut brittle. You could also send him some Turkey Vienna sausages in a can. More sparkling cider if it’s packaged well. A list of all the things you are thankful for. A Thanksgiving/Fall smelling candle for a scent of “home”. You could throw a few Fall leaves from where you live, in the box to give him a piece of home too.
Christmas (MY FAVORITE):
Send a small Christmas tree (you can find small decoration types at Walmart or a local Craft Store). Send mini shatter-proof ornaments and garland. Wrap small presents in small gift boxes to give him a miniature Christmas where he is. I got my a Christmas ornament that said “Our First Christmas 2008″, they have new ones every year. Send pictures of you and/or the kids. Pictures of his family maybe holding banners or posters saying Merry Christmas We Miss You on it. You could line the box with cotton to look like snow underneath everything. You could include Hot chocolate or hot apple cider packets in a small Christmas stocking.
If you have kids, you could have them trace each of their hands on the outside of each of the boxes and write their names inside and the date so he can watch them grow every time he gets a box. Or you could do the same on a piece of cardstock paper so he can collect them throughout the year. Let your kids color their hands with crayons or markers.
I also made Fortune Cookies at home and made my own fortunes inside. It was really somewhat tricky to make them because you have to mold them after cooking them, but when they are still soft you put the fortune inside and fold it before it hardens. Basically making one at a time.
Some of the things I sent to my husband on a regular basis, included:
- Bags of Chips
- Sour Patch Kids
- Vienna Sausages
- Non-Frozen Microwaveable Dinners
- Popcorn packets
- Top Ramen Noodles
- Yahoo! Chocolate Milk Boxes
- Sodas/Energy Drinks (Packaged well)
- Powdered Water Flavoring (like gatorade, crystal light, koolaids)
- Chocolate Puddings
- Candy Necklaces/Bracelets
- Easy Mac-n-Cheese packets
- Beef Jerkey
- Granola Bars
- Energy/Protein Bars
- Any kinds of candy that won’t melt
For my husband’s Birthday, I made him a picture of my body spelling out HAPPY BIRTHDAY.
In every box I would send a different colored balloon. Blow up a balloon and hold the air in with your fingers, then use a permanent marker and write him a letter on the balloon. Then deflate and put it in the box. Tell him he has to blow up the balloon to read the letter.
You can make him a care package for his birthday, including balloons and confetti, party hats for him and his friends, party poppers, and whichever gift you’d like to give him wrapped like a real present.
As for non food items, depending on what he has access to, you can send:
- Deck of cards
- small board games or hand held electronic games
- Word search of crossword puzzle books
- Anything related to his favorite sports teams (I sent my husband a small nerf basketball hoop for his wall in his choo)
- Air Fresheners
- Photo albums
- Disposable cameras for him to take pictures and send back for you to develop and be surprised
- Razor Heads
- His favorite soap
Heather E. Sosa has been an Army wife since May of 2008 and is now an Army veteran herself. With her husband Joel, she has a daughter named Emmalynn who will be 1, in July of 2011.
(Photo by Mark Abueg)