The holidays are quickly approaching. For many families, it’s a time of celebration and cheers with their loved ones. However, many families must also celebrate the holidays while their loved ones are deployed. Regardless, any kind of separation from friends and family is tough and receiving some love from home by way of a care package is always appreciated! If you wish to send a care package or gift to soldiers overseas, there are many factors to consider:
-time of year (It’s not a good idea to send chocolate to the Middle East in the summer)
-location (Some of our military personnel serve in remote locations with minimal access to a store to purchase basic supplies, some are less remote and have access to more amenities, and some that are stationed in a location such as Qatar may have even fewer needs.)
-gender of the military personnel (There are organizations the reach out specifically to female military personnel.)
-personal preference (If you know the deployed Soldier, ASK them what they’d like
-store bought cookies are typically preferred as homemade cookies usually arrive stale and crushed.
What Not to Send
You may want to send items that you know your soldier absolutely loves, however, you must keep in mind that there are certain things that they cannot be sent. This is depending on where your service member is located. If your service member is in the Middle East or the Persian Gulf areas, you should not send anything that would offend people of the Islamic faith, including pork or pork by-products, obscene material, religious materials contrary to Islam, anything depicting nude or seminude persons, pornographic or sexual items, alcohol, or nonauthorized political materials. If you are unsure about what they can receive check with your Key Volunteer, Ombudsman, or family command support group for restrictions and details.
If your service member needs the essentials but you want to save your care packages for special items, you can purchase a gift certificate to the exchange. There are programs that allow you to buy your service member a gift certificate good at any military exchange in the world.
Do not send:
- pork and other culturally sensitive items
- items restricted by the postal service
- expired items
Tips for Sending items
- Check International and Country Specific Shipping Limitations
- Seal Everything
- Secure the Contents
- Don’t Over Stuff the Boxes
- Select Sturdy Packaging
- Secure The Package
- Provide Accurate Shipping Information
- Provide 2 Shipping Labels
- Complete the Customs Forms
- Missed the Shipping Deadline
If you want to send a gift, I recommend checking out some of the options from GiftBasketsOverseas.com. Whether you have a loved one who enjoys healthy snacks or candy, they have it all. They take care of delivery to APO’s and bases as needed. This is a great option for those who aren’t sure what to send their service member, or who want to send a variety of items without paying expensive shipping fees.
For instance, for a family member stationed in Afghanistan, you could send the Patriotic Care Package
If you have any tips on sending gifts to service members, let me know in the comments! Also, what types of gifts do you send to loved ones who are deployed?
Love of impromptu dance parties, 80’s cartoons, and horizontal life pauses (aka naps); Natasha Brown is a stay at home mom of 4 kids, and wife to one lucky guy! In her spare time, she is co-editor of Grits & Grace, as well as editor for The Mother Hustler Blog and Creative Director for the Mother Hustler podcast.