My soon-to-be husband deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Between planning our wedding and my career as a teacher, I became obsessed (and I mean obsessed) with care package ideas.
It was the first deployment for both of us. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect and I was rattled. Creating care package ideas gave me a mission -- designing them, shopping for them, thinking up themes for them, figuring out what John and his co-workers would enjoy.
Military care packages were something tangible for John -- they reminded him that someone loved him, missed him, and was waiting (pretty impatiently) at home for him.
In fact, I was so overzealous about the care packages that when John stepped off the plane in Afghanistan and his group was introduced, he was singled out. The commander shook his hand and said, “So we hear you’re getting married.”
They had been waiting to give him a very obnoxiously decorated care package ... that had arrived a week before he had. And, yes, over the entire box, I had doodled “We’re getting married.” (Here’s the photographic evidence!).
Over John’s deployment, I sent him almost 40 boxes. (I told you, I was obsessed. I wasn’t kidding.)
Somewhere during that time, I began my blog “Jo My Gosh” to chronicle the care packages for anyone who wanted to see them.
Almost immediately they began drawing an audience from military spouses and significant others. I received a ton of questions asking for advice and help with ideas for what to create, what to put in them, and how to ship certain items.
Almost two years later, I’m back at making care packages for my youngest sister who has just started a service year in Europe. And again, I’m scouring Pinterest for awesome ideas. This time, military spouses and significant others have begun sending me their ideas, and I’ve begun featuring them on my blog. It’s been amazing to see how creativity and love intersects through these works of art.
Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing
8 Military Care Package Ideas
1. I Love You a Latte : Send a little caffeinated boost with a care package devoted entirely to coffee. Throw in a travel mug, bags of coffee or instant coffee, sugar packets, powdered or non-dairy creamer, and whatever else you think your recipient needs for a coffee break (a hometown newspaper? magazine? devotional?).
2. The Bagel Box. And speaking of morning routines, with a vacuum sealer and a little luck (that your box doesn’t get rerouted all over the globe), you can actually send bagels. Really. I sent bagels from Panera to Afghanistan. And I love the story about my experience at Panera more than the actual care package idea --read the story and see more photos here.
3. I oFISHally Miss You: Puns are definitely a staple of care packages! (It seems that the dorkier it is, the better it is.) Fill this box with snacks—Goldfish, Swedish Fish, single-serving tuna packets.
4. The Best Date EVER : Recreate your favorite date with your significant other through the care package. Include photos, memories, and mementos.
5. Lego Care Package: This box is decorated so creatively, you don’t even need to see what went into the package to know that it delighted the recipient.
6. Vitamin Me : Need to send vitamins and health supplements to your loved one?
7. No Shave November: Possibly the best thing about deployment was that John was away for No Shave November. (That’s a joke. But seriously.) I still (possibly begrudgingly) sent him a box to celebrate the month since he really enjoys growing out his facial hair.
8. Tough Cookie : Since cookies travel pretty well, this is a great way to send your homemade or packaged ones. You can always write a note to encourage your loved one to share them with everyone else. I did that with John, but I think he conveniently didn’t read those directions sometimes.
Of course, there are tons of ideas all over the internet. You’re welcome to use any of the 800 plus care package ideas I’ve collected on Pinterest. And if you have a care package that you’d love to share, I want to see it, feature it, and celebrate it!
All photos courtesy of Jo, My Gosh!.
Jo is the author of Jo, My Gosh! a blog about her journey as a newlywed military wife. When she’s not working from home, she’s writing, reading, trying new recipes, watching sports or cross stitching. Catch her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and say hi!