Care Packages

Sending Care Packages to Deployed Military Service Members

General Guidelines

  • 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: 

Illegal Substances
Alcoholic Beverages
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  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).

Suggested Items

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:

Adhesive Bandages
Almond Butter
Antibacterial Ointment
Anti-Snore Strips
Baby Powder (unscented)
Baby Wipes
Batteries (all sizes especially AA)
BBQ Sauce
Beef Jerky
Blister Treatment/Moleskin
Body Spray
Body Wash
Breath Strips
Breath Mints
Calamine Lotion
Canned Fruit (pop tops)
Cereal Bars
Chewing Gum
Chicken in Foil Pouch (no need for can opener)
Cotton Swabs
Cold Capsules
Comic Books
Construction or Scrapbooking Paper
Contact Lens Solution
Cotton Balls
Cough Drops
Cup of Noodles
Dental Floss
Disposable Camera
DVDs & VHS Movies
Drawing Pad
Dried Fruit
Drink Mix Singles to add to water bottles
Disposable Razors
Electronic Hand Held Games
Eye drops (moisturizing)
Fans (Hand Held)
Fruit Snack Gummies
Granola Bars
Greeting Cards (blank)
Gummy Candy
Hair Bands/Clips
Hair gel
Hand Sanitizer
Hairspray (pump)
Hand Soap
Hard Candy
Handi-Snacks (pre-packaged crackers w/filling)
Hot Sauce
Hydrocortisone Cream
Instant Coffee
Instant Heat Pain Packs
Instant Oatmeal
Instant Soup
Jelly Beans
Joke Books
Jump Rope
Lens Cleaning Cloth
Lip Balm
Mad Libs
Mechanical Pencils
Mini Etch-A-Sketch
MP3 Music Gift Cards (i.e. iTunes)
Muscle Pain Liniment
Music CDs
Nail Clippers
Nail File/Nail Brush
Nail Polish
Online Marketplace Gift Cards (i.e.
OTC Pain Patches
Paperback Books
Peanut Butter
Pink Bismuth
Plastic Flip-Flops (for shower)
Playing Cards
Pop Tarts
Power Bars
Prepaid Global Calling Cards
Puzzle Books
Religious/Inspirational Literature (For personal use only. Do not send religious material in bulk.)
Rice Krispy Treats
Saline Nose Spray
Sewing Kit
Shaving Cream
Shower Gel
Single Sheet Sets
Snack Pies
Snack Size Chips
Snack Cakes
Snack Pudding
Soap (with case)
SOCKS (black, calf high thick boot socks)
Sports Gel
Sports Tape
Stamps/Self-Addressed Stamped Envelopes
Stress Ball
Sunflower Seeds
Surface Cleaning Wipes w/Bleach
Throat Lozenges
Toilet Paper
Travel Board Game
Towel/Wash Cloth (dark color)
Tootsie Rolls
Trail Mix
Travel Size Tissue
Tuna in Foil Pouch (no need for can opener)
Warming Packs for Hands/Feet
Ziploc Bags