Sending Care Packages to Deployed Military Service Members
- Your package may take up to four (4) weeks to reach your service member, so pack things that will not spoil and allow more time for holidays.
- Your package may sit in extreme weather before your service member can collect it so do not pack things that will melt or could be damaged by exposure to moisture.
- Remember that it is likely that your service member will share his/her package with others in his unit, so be mindful to not send very personal things.
- Always include your return address so that the service member may write back if they do not have your address available to them otherwise.
- Do NOT send a package without a recipient name – it will generally not be accepted by the military for safety reasons.
Do not send:
Explosives, including Fireworks
Pork Products or By-Products
Fresh Fruit, Vegetables or Meat
Offensive/Obscene Materials (i.e., photos, drawings, DVD’s or magazines)
(These items are illegal for you to send, or can get your soldier reprimanded)
- The USPS provides Priority Mail boxes for no charge. These boxes are specifically designated for APO/FPO addresses and ship for a “flat rate” no matter the weight – “If it fits, it ships.” Don’t forget the CUSTOMS FORMS – your package cannot be delivered without the proper forms. The boxes and forms are available at your local post office or can be obtained online at www.usps.com. Postage is slightly cheaper if purchased online and you can print your own shipping label/customs form via the USPS website. (If self-printing a label, be sure not to cover any of the bar codes with packing tape or they will be unable to process your package).
- Insurance is usually not necessary for these packages, however, if you send something valuable it might be a good idea. If you send something of great value, you need to pack it for a very rough ride. In some instances it is preferable to order online and let the company ship it to your service member.
- Don’t skimp on packing tape! Seal the box completely.
- If you do not have an APO or FPO address for your service member, you can try contacting the Family Readiness Group (FRG) for the appropriate branch of service for help.
Tips for Packing
- Utilize resealable plastic bags to separate and protect certain items – this may help retain freshness, contain damage from melting or leaking, and also keep out sand or rain. Be sure to squeeze all of the air out!
- Tighten lids on anything that might leak, (i.e. shampoo, body wash, hot sauce, etc.).
- If you buy boxed items with smaller packaged items inside, such as fruit snacks, empty the box directly into package so that the individual packages can fill the nooks & crannies.
- Be mindful about putting scented soaps/lotions together with foodstuff. Food could end up tasting like lotion or soap by the time they arrive!
- When sending wipes, try to avoid alcohol based ones (baby wipes that are cucumber scented are excellent).
- When sending blankets or clothing, wash first so they smell like home and then put in a vacuum-sealed bag (to condense bulk).
This is not intended to be a complete list of allowable items to send in care packages to deployed service members. It is simply an alphabetical list of basic suggestions that we hope will be helpful:
Baby Powder (unscented)
Batteries (all sizes especially AA)
Canned Fruit (pop tops)
Chicken in Foil Pouch (no need for can opener)
Construction or Scrapbooking Paper
Contact Lens Solution
Cup of Noodles
DVDs & VHS Movies
Drink Mix Singles to add to water bottles
Electronic Hand Held Games
Eye drops (moisturizing)
Fans (Hand Held)
Fruit Snack Gummies
Greeting Cards (blank)
Handi-Snacks (pre-packaged crackers w/filling)
Instant Heat Pain Packs
Lens Cleaning Cloth
MP3 Music Gift Cards (i.e. iTunes)
Muscle Pain Liniment
Nail File/Nail Brush
Online Marketplace Gift Cards (i.e. Amazon.com)
OTC Pain Patches
Plastic Flip-Flops (for shower)
Prepaid Global Calling Cards
Religious/Inspirational Literature (For personal use only. Do not send religious material in bulk.)
Rice Krispy Treats
Saline Nose Spray
Single Sheet Sets
Snack Size Chips
Soap (with case)
SOCKS (black, calf high thick boot socks)
Stamps/Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes
Surface Cleaning Wipes w/Bleach
Travel Board Game
Towel/Wash Cloth (dark color)
Travel Size Tissue
Tuna in Foil Pouch (no need for can opener)
Warming Packs for Hands/Feet