After 16 years, numerous deployments and two hardship tours, I have sent probably about 60 care packages and have two going out tomorrow. If the post office hasn’t closed down…
Some of these care packages where Pinterest made with the perfect bow on top while others were crammed full as I had one of my kids sit on it so I could tape it closed. These packages have included just about everything that is allowed from banana peppers to patches he needed for his uniform. The items my husband ask for sometimes will make you laugh. My favorite is doing holiday boxes! Those are the ones where I send special items for my soldier to celebrate no matter where he is and give him the chance to spread a little cheer to the other soldiers. Sending these care packages make me feel good and give me a sense of comfort. I love knowing that he’ll get to open each one and be showered with how much I miss him.
The problem is I stress about these boxes and sometimes spend way too much money. I stress because I want the packages to be perfect as if it is some kind of measurement of how much I love him. When in fact, my soldier doesn’t care. All he cares about is that he received a package from home! He doesn’t care if you’ve decorated the inside of the box or packaged it neatly. Your soldier cares that you thought about him and made the effort to send him love from home. He cares about having pictures to look at and drawings the kids have made for him. This also helps the kids feel connected. In the beginning, this was hard for me to understand. I wanted to compare what other spouses where doing and making sure I sent fresh baked cookies at Christmas like everyone else, when in fact, my soldier doesn’t even eat cookies. I have learned to ask what he wants. Instead of sending what I think he likes.
If not, it turns into a free for all community box which I take pride in sending extra items for this reason during the holidays. Every soldier should receive love from home and knowing that my soldier shares his with others that don’t get packages is a blessing.
Now that I have 4 kids, the perfect packages don’t happen very often and I am lucky to get them out every month but that is okay. I have learned over the years, that he is happy with anything I send him. He is also a penny pincer so he is happy I’m not spending a ton of money on stuff that he doesn’t necessarily need. Now he does know that anything he needs or wants; I will send it!
A few tips from my experience.
Send your package in advance of holidays. It takes the package a good 2 weeks to arrive. Around certain holidays, mail may run a little slower.
Homemade items and crafts are the best. One year I sent my husband a deck of cards with 52 reasons why I love him. This project took a good month to make. They turned out perfect and he still as them in his office.
Make sure to only send chocolate according to the winter. It will melt. Fruit cups will bust and become a leaking mess that still gets delivered and will attract bugs.
If sending baked goods, especially brownies, wait for them to cool before vacuum sealing them.
They might look like smashed poop if not.
Flat rate boxes are great if the items are heavy. Sometimes it is cheaper to send the package in a regular box priority mail. Like apple chips, they take up a lot of space in a box but are not heavy.
The USPS will send you a package kit but it never has enough tape. And make sure you fill out the labels at home and complete the forms completely. It saves time and frustration.
Pack the boxes tightly. You don’t want things to be moving around. If you are in doubt put the items in Ziploc bags. Extra socks and underwear never hurt and are great for stuffing.
Pinterest is full of great ideas! Have fun with it if you have the time and money. There is also a website called Spouse-ly that sells pre-made stickers and box kits to help make the perfect theme box without being crafty.
Written by Kim Clagg (Board President)