The holidays are here! Deck the halls! Ho ho ho!
No, I'm not kidding. I know it's not even Thanksgiving yet. I know you're still worried about who's making the mashed potatoes and if there is even enough stuffing. I know you're also probably walking into every big box store convinced it's too early for the Christmas music to be blaring, and that may be true in the civilian world.
But for us, it's time to start making miracles in boxes: the time for holiday care packages is here. If you want anything in a flat rate or priority mail box to for sure get to the 'Stan by Christmas, they must be mailed by Dec. 3. So crank up the Bing and start singing along, because Christmas-in-a-box holiday care pacakage has never been easier. (Or more fun!)
And just like we do when we're decorating at home, we have to start with the tree.
I'm nearly Evangelical in my devotion to sending creatable trees, and if yarn doesn't do it for you, think about some pretty ribbon, tinsel, or a strand of twinkle lights. A few twists and turns, and ta-da! Your wall is a tree. Washi tape is great for a pretty, creative hanging, like the one above, or you can go the super practical route, like I do, and just send a handful of tacks wrapped in pretty tissue (and clearly labeled). I love how this little tree is a home for adorable ornaments and cards. Wouldn't it be nice to throw in some ornaments and pictures from home? I can't think of a better way to trim the tree than to surround yourself with the people you love.
But don't let the decor stop there! You can do a lot in a small space, so think small and bright.
I remember the first Christmas after I moved from Manhattan to Camp Lejeune: I was devastated by the absence of the over-the-top, obnoxious holiday decorations I'd become so accustomed to everywhere I went. New York doesn't just "do" the holidays. It swallows Santa whole for a month and a half and regurgitates him on every surface for a month and a half. A few lawn reindeer here and there just don't measure up to Macy's. I imagine when packing my boxes that for a holiday lover, being deployed this time of year must be similar (albeit on a far different, more sandy scale). But you get the point: they don't have the onslaught of happy merry, twinkle sparkle bombarding every bit of our senses right now. And that makes it our holiday-loving duty to import it as much as possible.
I'm sending a box with some little trees this year, and while I don't expect them to live for long in Afghanistan, I do expect them to bring a dose of much needed holiday cheer.
I realize these are silly. I also realize my husband is going to start rolling his eyes when he opens the box. But you know what I also realize? That he's totally going to start singing a Christmas carol at the same time.
I also love these yarn-wrapped foam cones. I made three - just enough to add some color and cheer to an otherwise drab rack - and they squeezed in easily to my decor box. (Plus, they're foam! How much damage can they possibly incur?)
But decor isn't everything. Presents go a long way, and in that vein, what Christmas-in-a-box would be complete without an advent calendar? Perk: if you fall behind on your boxes, an advent calendar could be easily modified into a twelve-days-of-Christmas calendar, and then you don't even have to have it ready until Christmas day! I love the idea of a pre-wrapped pressie a day for advent (although adding a traditional chocolate advent calendar to your box couldn't hurt!). I've included some sort of shippable foodstuffs for every day: hard salami, cheese straws, a jar of seasoned artichokes.
Everything is so colorful and ready to go! If you make one, and you have leftovers, make a second one for me. I promise I'll sing some carols in your honor.
Now, you may be thinking, could it ever be Christmas without stockings hung by the fire with care? I'm with you entirely on the idea there, but I am firmly in the camp of not sending anything your honey might be sad to let go, so if you send one, make sure it's little and cute - and cheap enough that it's worth ditching asap. Or: stuff a sock! It's like the opposite of the Grunt Roll: A Christmas Stocking Roll! Take a pair of Tactical Threads (or whatever your go-to brand is), and fill them with all the goodies - my favorite being these snowman pieces of gum or reindeer chocolate bars - then tie them with some pretty ric-rac or ribbon. Just as festive as a stocking, but also a present! Total win!
Aren't they cute?
And I know. Cutest. Chocolates. Ever.
But we can all admit: it's not the same as home. Adorable, but not the same. So send your box into the hall of fame and include all the trappings of the holidays at home: a recording of you reading The Night Before Christmas, a copy of his favorite holiday flick (Hope you find your dad, Buddy!), and an album of carols.
And maybe if he's been really good this year, some of these.
Remember: Make sure you get them in the mail by Dec. 3. We want these packages to get there in time and ring in the holidays with merriment in cheer, wherever they're headed.