If you have loved ones deployed during the upcoming holiday, you know time is short to get Christmas in the mail. This is a great time to pull together friends and family to help. Send out suggestions and invite everyone to participate. It’s especially nice if they include notes and photos. Serving oversees, soldiers can feel like they’ve been forgotten and these boxes help them know they’re not!
Also, be sure to pack any extra you can. There are plenty who won’t receive anything, and soldiers ALWAYS share!
For those who may be doing this for the first time, here are some hits and suggestions.
What to Pack
Christmas Candy—even chocolate, this time of year it should do fine.
Baked Goods—cookies and bars travel better.
Individual Drink Mix—this makes even lukewarm water palatable for our men and women far away from home. Also, the individual packets are much easier to carry when they’re away from base.
Beef Jerky—our soldiers need good quality snacks and this is a popular source of protein while out on patrol.
Nuts—another great snack, packed with protein.
Individual Snacks—you know the individual likes and dislikes of your soldier, but some good choices are protein bars, granola, small pop-top cans of fruit, etc.
Handwritten Cards & Letters—now is a great time ask friends and family to write short cards and letters to arrive inside the box.
iTunes Gift Cards—Most soldiers have iTunes accounts and can get much more than just music. There are audio books, TV shows, and movies available.
Pictures—yes, you can email them pictures, but something to have in hand often means the world to our loved ones away during the holidays.
Socks— for soldiers in combat uniforms, socks don’t last long, so it’s always a welcome gift.
Batteries—again, there’s always a need for these.
Toiletries—travel size soap, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. But, if you’re including these things in a shipment with food be sure to double bag these items. Nothing’s worse than getting a box from home where everything is covered in mouthwash or toothpaste.
Wet Wipes—great for so many things, also a need for those deployed.
Playing Cards & Frisbees—life on base is sometimes boring and these can help pass the time.
Books & Movies—again, both good ways to pass the off hours. Believe it or not, childhood Christmas classics, like A Charlie Brown Christmas, are favorites with our soldiers!
Tips on Packing
Be ready to ship three to four weeks ahead of when you want the package to arrive.
Use small quart size, zip-top plastic bags to double bag anything that’s a liquid or gel. It’s devastating to get a box full of unusable items because something burst in transit.
It’s also a good idea to double bag anything that’s powder. That way it will still be usable if it breaks open during shipping.
*Note from the editor: Our author, Edie Melson, has written a wonderful devotional for military families. It’s called Fighting Fear:Winning the War at Home. It would make a fantastic and thoughtful gift for those you may know who have loved ones serving overseas this Christmas season. You can pick up a copy here.
Now it’s your turn. Do you have any additional recommendations?
Photos Courtesy of Microsoft.com
Edie Melson is the bestselling author of Social Media Marketing for Writers and a devotional for military families, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. She is a prolific freelance writer, editor, and co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well a faculty member at numerous others. Visit her popular writing blog, The Write Conversation at www.thewriteconversation.blogspot.com.