No one said that long-distance love was easy. One way to make it easier on your servicemember? Show them some love by sending a care package.

Care packages are exactly what they sound like: little boxes of comfort that show your servicemember you care. Wondering what to include? We’ve compiled a list of creative, practical, and sentimental items.

Before we dive into this list, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make it personal: Think about what your servicemember specifically would like. Whether he or she is a huge movie buff, football fan, or crossword puzzle fiend, making your package as tailored as possible to their personality will make it feel extra special.
  • Make it useful: While it’s always fun to throw in some items “just because,” your servicemember will appreciate receiving items that actually serve a purpose — whether it’s for entertainment or self care.
  • Know the timeline: Packages can take a long time to ship, especially if your servicemember is overseas. If you’re trying to send a care package in time for a birthday, holiday, or anniversary, make sure you give yourself enough time.
  • Pick a theme: Even if there isn’t a relevant upcoming holiday or event, you can still give your care package a theme if you wish. From football-inspired goodie bags to boxes bearing all things cheese, check out The Military Wife and Mom’s list of 75 Military care packages for some ideas.

There’s one more thing you need to do before you choose the items you want to ship — you’ll need to get some supplies. Take advantage of USPS’s free Military Care Kits complete with six boxes, packing tape, labels, and forms. The size of the box you’re shipping will help you determine how much you can include.

The Best Things to Send in Military Care Packages

Regardless of which theme or holiday you choose (should you wish to choose one), there are a few staple categories that won’t let you down.

Snacks & Drinks

Non-perishable snacks like chips, pretzels, trail mix, energy bars, and jerky are perfect for Military care packages. You can also easily include any powdered form of drinks like coffee, tea, and lemonade.

Other food items that tend to be in high demand are condiments such as hot sauce, peanut butter, and honey.

Personal Items/Reminders of Home

Whether it’s a handwritten letter from you or a drawing from the kids, reminders of home can be a
bright light during deployment. Other personal items might include family pictures, postcards from trips taken, or even nostalgic clothing items like hats and t-shirts.

Here’s a tip: knock out items one and two and send homemade baked goods. There’s nothing like a chocolate chip cookie to give you all the homey feels. Just make sure you properly store your goodies in airtight containers and let them cool completely before shipping.


Sometimes, it’s the things we normally take for granted that can be the most useful. Items such as body wash, shampoo, hand sanitizer, razors, sunscreen, floss, and toothpaste make perfect and practical additions to Military care packages.


Depending on what your servicemember is interested in, the options in the entertainment category are endless.

Books, magazines, and crossword puzzles give Military members a relaxing respite from the duties of deployment.  Some MilSpouses also opt to include mini games or activities such as yo-yos, hacky sacks, and puzzles.

More technologically advanced forms of entertainment include handheld game systems, CD players, portable DVD players, and of course, any necessary batteries or charging chords.

Gift Cards

Gift cards make great additions to care packages because they let servicemembers spend them as they see fit and take up very little space.

You can choose a specific service such as iTunes or go more general and opt for a VISA or MasterCard gift card.

Now that you know some of the best things to send in Military care packages, there are a few “no-nos.” These include:

  • Alcohol or food containing alcohol
  • Racy content or photographs
  • Anything in an aerosol can, as it tends to explode (i.e., shaving cream)
  • Chocolate, if shipping to a hot destination

For more advice on what not to do, visit Jo, My Gosh! and avoid a care package disaster.

No matter what you decide to include in your Military care package, at the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts. Thank you to all of the Military Spouses and their families for supporting our troops day in and day out!

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